YouTube to hide exact channel subscriber numbers in September

Subscriber counts on YouTube channels are an important part of the way creators present and promote their content - and an important way users interact with them.


Many creators on Google's YouTube have been feeling a lot of stress lately – what with demonetized and/or deleted videos, derankings and other obstacles thrown in their path by the video platform.

But in an announcement made on Friday, YouTube identified creators' ability to see the exact the number of subscribers to their channel as the source of their angst – and promised to now “fix” that.

In May, YouTube said it was looking to display number counts in a uniform way on mobile and the desktop. The company said that this meant the number was shown abbreviated on one platform – for example, as 133k subscribers – while on others, it was displayed as 133,017.

And YouTube decided to err on the side of the fuzzy figure. Not only that, but the latest announcement mixes in the company's care for users and creators, seeking apparently to protect them from “stress and advance their well-being” – “specifically around tracking public subscriber counts in real time.”

The decision also applies to the giant's data API, Google said. One company whose business is based on providing real-time user count service, Social Blade, has been left decidedly stressed out by YouTube's move. “Not happy” are the words they used in a tweet – although promising to soldier on.

But YouTube's user count decision might, in the long run, put Social Blade out of business, we reported earlier in the year.

Subscriber counts on YouTube channels are an important part of the way creators present and promote their content – and an important way users interact with them. Becoming a fan may feel less personal because your individual subscription won't visibly raise the publicly available number anymore.

Meanwhile, creators will still have access to subscriber numbers in real time – but instead of on their public channel pages, this will now be visible only in YouTube Studio and Analytics.

The idea that a corporation like Google might be making such a change out of altruistic concern isn't ringing true with many users and creators. So what's in it for Google? Apparently, a simple a desire to introduce cosmetic changes to the user interface – regardless of who might be harmed or annoyed in the process.

So that's YouTube's “concern about well-being” argument right out the window.


Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovic is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovic is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]