Watcher Revises Subscription Model Following Fan Backlash


Watcher hosts Ryan Bergara, and Shane Madej issues apology and updates fans on future plans after ‘Goodbye YouTube’ video backlash.

The YouTube channel Watcher, launched by former BuzzFeed personalities Steven Lim, Ryan Bergara, and Shane Madej, recently faced significant community backlash following their announcement of a new subscription model. The change, introduced in a video titled “Goodbye YouTube,” initially set out to make premieres of new shows the only content available for free on YouTube, with subsequent episodes being locked behind a paywall on their website.

RELATED: Twitch Streamers' Lives Ruined Over Strange Allegations

This strategy also included fully monetized YouTube videos, a Patreon account with tiers up to $20, and sponsored content segments in each video. However, the announcement was poorly received by the audience, as reflected in the 280,000 dislikes the video received compared to just 35,000 likes.

The reaction to Watcher’s “Goodbye YouTube” video was overwhelmingly negative, as evidenced by a stark disparity in the like-to-dislike ratio and a flood of critical comments. Fans expressed a mix of disappointment and sarcasm. One viewer remarked, “Might as well change your name to Watched,” highlighting a sense of finality to their engagement. Another commented nostalgically, “Well boys, looks like it’s back to BuzzFeed unsolved marathon,” indicating a preference for the hosts’ previous content. More pointed criticism came from a user who felt deceived: “I feel gaslit. You’re doing this for ME? You’re doing something I didn’t ask you to do and you’re making me pay for the privilege? Wait… What??” Finally, humor tinged with disbelief was evident in another comment: “did i just….get laid off as a watcher fan???” Collectively, these reactions showcased a fanbase feeling alienated by a perceived shift away from the channel’s originally accessible content approach.

Ryan Bergara and Shane Madej
Watcher hosts Ryan Bergara, and Shane Madej release apology video.

In response to the intense criticism, Watcher issued an apology and completely revised their initial plan. In their follow-up video, titled “An Update,” the founders acknowledged their missteps: “We messed up… we’re sorry for the way we handled this as well as the way we communicated it,” they said. The video highlighted their realization of the impact of their decision, especially regarding the cost implications: “We also want to deeply apologize for our ignorance around the impact of the cost.”

The trio also expressed their gratitude toward their community, whose support has been crucial since they left BuzzFeed to start Watcher at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020: “You are the reason why we’ve been able to do anything at this company,” they shared.

Watcher‘s revised policy will now allow subscribers early access to content on their platform, with the shows becoming available on YouTube for free after a month. They also addressed the feedback regarding subscription costs: “We regret stating and implying that it’s a price that anybody can afford and we fully acknowledge that it is not.”

Watcher Patreon tiers
Watcher Revises Subscription Model Following Fan Backlash

Explaining the reasons behind launching their platform, they mentioned the challenges of staying relevant to advertisers and adapting to the evolving YouTube landscape: “That’s why we decided to launch the platform so that we as a company could continue, we could pay our staff fairly and not only continue to make great content for you but expand with new shows, new voices, all ad-free.”

For current Patreon members, Watcher is offering a free subscription code to the platform, ensuring those who had already purchased a subscription could receive a refund if requested.

This swift response and policy revision appear to have mended fences with much of their fanbase, as many viewers have expressed their satisfaction with the new approach and appreciation for the quick turnaround. The incident underscores the complexities of content monetization in a digital environment where audience loyalty and engagement are paramount.

- Advertisement -