This is critical for a culture that depends on the number of active users to prove its YouTube creators. In a blog post, YouTube's product team acknowledged that "the number of subscribers is very important for creators" and called the change set to "create more consistency everywhere." Some channels already have such display capabilities, but YouTube's product team wants to make it more consistent.
A YouTube spokesman confirmed to The Verge that sites that depend on YouTube API services "will be updated in the same incremental way as other surfaces." These include sites like Social Blade, which announces YouTube changes on Twitter that "may affect our data display." Jason Urgo, chief executive of Social Blade, told The Verge by e-mail that he had "contacted YouTube and was waiting for a response," adding, "This seems to hit any third party, including us."
A screenshot of the number of real-time subscribers from Social Blade can help track the performance of some of YouTube's most famous creators, including Felix "Pew DiePie" Kjellberg, James Charles, Tati Westbrook, Jeffree Star. The entire channel is dedicated to real-time streaming statistics from Social Blade, often using differences between creators and trends as a way of attracting audiences. Soon, these channels will effectively stop working as expected.
It is not clear how the cultural use of subscribers by the creator community affects YouTube's decision to hide exact numbers and effectively prohibit third-party websites from using the platform's API to run real-time counters. A YouTube spokesman declined to comment.
Other platforms are considering testing similar product changes. According to reports, Instagram is considering a feature that will prohibit the display of specific points of approval received by users after publishing photos, in order to "reduce the pressure on Instagram." On Reddit, moderators can choose to hide comments scores and votes to "try to reduce the initial snowball vote, which tends to continue to turn negative if comments get some initial votes, and vice versa."
YouTube's new subscriber count display will be officially launched in August.