Furious Watcher fans are blasting it as ‘greedy’ over paid subscription service from Mashable

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On Friday, Watcher announced it will leave YouTube to launch its own paid subscription service. By Sunday, it had lost around three percent of its subscribers and had been inundated with a deluge of criticism. Fans are speculating this could be the beginning of the end for the popular digital production company.

In a 14-minute video uploaded to YouTube on April 19, Watcher founders Ryan Bergara, Shane Madej, and Steven Lim unveiled their new paid streaming service also called Watcher. Priced at $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year, the independent platform will be the new home for the company’s content going forward, hosting series such as Ghost Files, Puppet History, and Survival Mode. For comparison, a Standard Netflix subscription with ads costs $6.99 per month.

“We want to keep the price low enough where anybody and everybody is able to afford it, but it also has to support the things that we do here,” Lim said in the video announcement.

Watcher won’t pull content that has already been uploaded to YouTube, so you can still go back to watch old episodes of Dish Granted and Are You Scared? for free. Trailers and season premieres will continue to be uploaded to Watcher’s YouTube account as well. However, full upcoming seasons of Watcher’s shows will now require a paid subscription to access.

Explaining their decision to leave YouTube, Watcher’s founders stated that moving to a paid subscription model would allow them to increase the production quality of their shows. While initially reminiscing about their YouTube careers, the group also shared frustrations and limitations they faced creating content for the platform. Madej noted that Watcher’s subscription service would allow them to offer “high quality series in season form, beautifully organised, ad-free.”

“The more resources we have, the more time we could focus on making [Ghost Files] better,” said Bergara, noting that they will be travelling internationally some episodes.

Watcher’s beta period has already started, with the full streaming service scheduled to launch on May 31.

Mashable has reached out to Watcher for comment.

Worth it? Watcher fans are skeptical


Credit: Watcher

The news of Watcher’s paid subscription service has not gone over well, to put it mildly. Scathing criticism has flooded social media, with upset fans deriding the move as “greedy” and “out of touch.” Some fans have even responded by subscribing to Watcher then posting their login details on social media, taking Madej’s statement that users can share their accounts to heart.

“did i just….get laid off as a watcher fan???” gracehenning7389 commented on Watcher’s announcement video. The post has been liked over 45,000 times.

“I cant explain it but this video feels like when your rich corporate boss gives you a pizza party instead of a raise,” said nikkimurray9942.


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Many are unimpressed with Watcher’s goal to improve its production quality, saying that it was the shows’ humour that attracted them. In fact, some consider Watcher’s lower production value to be more desirable, having enjoyed the “rough around the edges chaos” it created.


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Others have noted that while Watcher may think $6 is a reasonable fee it’s still a significant amount of money to many, particularly international fans.

“How am i supposed to pay for 6 dollars for a service when after i adjust it to my currency it’s more than the cost of groceries?” zarishhassan5286 commented on YouTube. “Your American audience can barely afford it, how will your international audience afford it at all?”


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Watcher already has a Patreon which charges a minimum of $5 per month. This is being modified to only contain podcast content, prompting some subscribers to state they will be pulling their support. As of writing, said Patreon has less than 6,000 paid members.


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Unfavourable comparisons between Watcher and independent comedy platform Dropout have also run rampant. While both streaming services cost the same, the company behind Game Changer and Dimension 20 has a large cast, a varied selection of shows, and releases new content almost daily. Meanwhile, Watcher primarily relies on Bergara and Madej as hosts, and has released just 377 videos since its inception — approximately one every four days.

Though Watcher is no doubt hoping to replicate Dropout’s success, many fans have drawn parallels with Rooster Teeth instead. While the defunct digital production company didn’t completely leave YouTube, it did encourage fans to watch content on its website, as well as offer exclusive video content to paid subscribers. It also removed shows such as Red vs. Blue and Camp Camp from YouTube, aiming to drive fans to its website. Unfortunately this wasn’t enough to save it, with Rooster Teeth announcing it would shut down last month.


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Watcher lost 3% of its subscribers in three days


Credit: Mashable screenshot: Watcher

Watcher was launched by former BuzzFeed personalities Bergara, Madej, and Lim in Jan. 2020. The trio had already garnered fans through video series such as BuzzFeed Unsolved, a true crime and paranormal mystery show hosted by Bergara and Madej, and Worth It, a food review show hosted by Lim. As such, they aimed to make similar content under the Watcher banner, gaining over 200,000 subscribers within two weeks of launching their YouTube channel.

Said YouTube channel has now lost a significant number of subscribers, dropping from 2.93 million to 2.84 million in the mere three days since Watcher’s announcement. While the company is planning to leave YouTube anyway, this mass subscriber exodus is a clear message from Watcher’s fans.

Much of the criticism has been levelled specifically at Lim as the company’s CEO. Though the role was initially shared between the three founders, Bergara and Madej stepped down to focus on creating content in 2023. As such, many fans view Lim as the ultimate decision-maker and thus the villain in this piece.


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This perception wasn’t helped by Lim’s announcement of new series Travel Season, described as a “spiritual successor” to Worth It. Running for 12 seasons, Worth It featured Lim, co-host Andrew Ilnyckyj, and cameraman Adam Bianchi visiting multiple restaurants to try similar dishes at “drastically different price points.” 

Travel Season is starting off much smaller, with just six episodes shot at one destination — likely South Korea judging from the brief clips shown. However, the news coinciding with Watcher’s paid subscription reveal left a bad taste in viewers’ mouths, some recalling that Worth It‘s most expensive meals could sometimes cost thousands of dollars.

An occasional $2,000 pizza here and there might not significantly impact Watcher’s budget in the grand scheme of things. Still, it isn’t a great look when you’re asking fans to start paying up for previously free content.

“This is going to make Steven’s new show look so out of touch,” posted redditor u/1920sremastered. “Especially if it’s shot the same way as the WTV announcement video. Slow-mo shots of Steven eating wagyu, flying, driving a Tesla, drinking wine, flying, eating caviar, flying again……”

“It’s never good to say ‘we just can’t afford to make the content we want to make’ and then say they [sic] content you want to make is a successor to the show where you ate some of the most expensive food in the world,” agreed u/b_mcalpine.


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Watcher hasn’t yet made any public statement about the overwhelmingly negative response to its plans, and its official social media accounts have been relatively quiet in the days since. However, the next episodes of its two podcasts Pod Watcher and For Your Amusement have been pushed back a week.

Bergara, Madej, and Lim are no doubt taking their time to carefully formulate a response to the uproar, likely aware that their next move will have significant implications for the future of their company.

The post Furious Watcher fans are blasting it as ‘greedy’ over paid subscription service from Mashable appeared first on Tom Bettenhausen’s.

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