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PHOTO: A 3D-printed YouTube icon is seen in front of a displayed
YouTube logo in this illustration

Thomson Reuters

By Paresh Dave

ANAHEIM, Calif. (Reuters) – Video makers with millions of
subscribers on YouTube expressed frustration at a trade show last
week that the service notifies only a portion of their followers
about new posts, causing declines in viewership and their
revenue.

The gap between viewership and subscribers, which is akin to
followers on Twitter or page likes on Facebook, emerged as the
latest rallying point for YouTube creators gathered at Viacom
Inc’s VidCon, an annual online video industry annual gathering.

YouTube, which is part of Alphabet Inc’s Google, last year faced
backlash from creators whose ad revenue on the service declined
because of shifting policies. But the lack of subscriber alerts
affects many more creators.

“It’s unacceptable,” King Russell, who goes by Kingsley and has
nearly 3 million YouTube subscribers, said of the issue during an
on-stage discussion at VidCon. “It’s tacky, rude and needs to
change.”

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His views per video have declined to about 100,000 from over a
million in the last few years.

Such drop-offs have created an opening for Facebook Inc, Snap Inc
and Amazon.com Inc to attract video makers as the companies begin
to share revenue with them, as YouTube long has.

YouTube executives addressed top criticisms during a session they
hosted at VidCon. They said viewers are overwhelmed by too many
alerts, and that users who subscribe to channels do so to dozens
while rarely unsubscribing.

Software decides based on viewing patterns which users should get
messages pointing out new content.

“But we can do better,” YouTube group product manager Todd
Beaupre told the audience.

Viewers can click a bell icon on creators’ profiles to get more
alerts, but YouTube has not said what percentage of subscribers
on average take this additional step.

YouTube stars acknowledged early subscribers may have lost
interest, but they find the company’s approach odd.

“It’s like you subscribe to a magazine and the mail carrier hides
the magazine under the deck: Good luck finding it,” said YouTube
comedian Mike Falzone.

YouTube encouraged subscribing about six years ago when it
noticed that viewership far outstripped subscribers, said Aditi
Rajvanshi, who worked for the company at the time and now runs a
consulting firm.

“I see the challenge, and I hear the frustration,” she told
Reuters. “YouTube hasn’t told users what subscribers mean today.”

(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Lisa
Shumaker)

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