Skip to Main Content

News and Events

Upcoming improvements to accuracy of subscriber counts

By David Boyle

YouTube Staff

UPDATE (2/6/12):

We are ready to proceed with removing closed accounts from all user subscriber counts on Thursday, February 9th.  A mentioned previously, all users will see a one-time adjustment to their total subscriber counts.  For further details about how this affects your channel, you should view your YouTube Analytics "Subscribers" reports.


UPDATE (1/11/12):

We will be holding off on the single day adjustment (the January 12th date is being postponed) until we can address some discrepancies we found in synchronizing the public counts with YouTube Analytics. Everyone involved in this project is determined to ensure that this change is clearly understood by users, so we will postpone the single day adjustment until we can ensure that both the public count and YouTube Analytics data are consistent and unambiguous. We will let everyone know once we have a firm date in mind.
However, the enhanced techniques for despamming new subscriptions will be implemented as scheduled (tomorrow), as there are no such complications. We will continue to keep everyone up to date on how this develops.


At YouTube, we take the accuracy of subscriber counts seriously.  Subscriber counts are a reflection of a creator’s level of engagement with viewers, and a serious source of pride in the community.  Many creators also use subscriber counts to measure their expectations for how many views their new videos should receive, by comparing total subscriber counts to number of views received from subscription sources in YouTube Analytics.  

As a result, we are enhancing our efforts to ensure that all subscriber counts are as accurate as possible.  On January 12th, we will take the following steps to improve the quality and integrity of subscriber counts across the site:

  1. Remove inactive and closed accounts from total subscriber counts.  We will remove all such accounts from subscriber numbers on January 12th, and continually update subscriber counts as subscribers become inactive or close their accounts.
  2. Improve techniques for preventing artificial inflation of subscriber counts.  Recently, we’ve seen a rise in creative agencies and vendors that claim to increase subscribers while complying with the YouTube Terms of Service.  In most cases, those claims are false; the purchase or gaming of subscribers is a violation of our Terms of Service.  Accordingly, we are taking the following steps to prevent some users from artificially inflating their subscriber counts:
    • Effective January 12th, we will implement a more rigorous system that will prevent new subscriptions generated from these malicious sources from being added to subscriber counts.
    • Beginning January 12th, we will retroactively adjust subscriber counts to not include subscriptions generated by artificial sources on an ongoing basis.
    • Please note: While we are updating subscriber counts to remove such subscriptions from the totals, we will not stop delivering videos to these subscribers, even if they are artificially created accounts.  This means that even if we mistakenly remove a subscriber from a subscription account as invalid, this will in no way affect your views.  

By ensuring the quality of subscriber counts, we hope that this metric will be a more valuable data point for creators.  Creators who have not attempted to inflate their subscriber counts should only see a limited drop--resulting from the removal of inactive and closed accounts--while users who have benefitted from abuse will get a reality check.