Watcher Addresses Streaming Service Controversy

The Watcher YouTube channel amended the launch of its independent streaming platform, which caused controversy last week. The BuzzFeed defectors and creators of series like Ghost Files and Too Many Spirits apologized for the handling of their original announcement and drastically modified the rollout of Watcher TV.

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Monday’s video “An Update” saw Watcher hosts and co-founders Ryan Bergara, Steven Lim, and Shane Madej address their planned departure from YouTube. The most crucial disclosure in this announcement was that the team had walked back its plans to move Watcher’s existing back catalog behind a paywall. Though audiences took umbrage with the entirety of Friday’s original announcement, the threat that past seasons of series like Puppet History and Are You Scared? would suddenly become inaccessible was particularly ill-received.   

Watcher intends to continue with the rollout of its independent streaming service, though now it will operate more similarly to its Patreon. Moving forward, Watcher TV members will receive access to new episodes of each show a month before they arrive on YouTube. Existing Patreon supporters will automatically be enrolled onto the platform, and those who subscribed before Monday’s update will be eligible for a refund if this modification does not suit their circumstances.

Perks to Watcher TV, such as the ad-free platform and the ability for fans to vote to revive an ended series from the channel’s archives, will presumably still serve as added incentives for those interested in signing up. These benefits were among the elements from Friday’s video that did not receive too much of an overhaul over the weekend.

Though the original announcement regarding Watcher TV has likely done some lasting damage to the audience’s trust in the channel, Monday’s follow-up proved a largely favorable compromise. Fans expressed a mix of relief that they’d still be able to access Watcher content on YouTube and gratitude that the channel sought to adequately adjust their implementation of Watcher TV to better align with the financial concerns of the audience.

Many on social media have compared the Watcher controversy to the Try Guys’ infidelity scandal of 2022, due to their shared BuzzFeed origins. However, Watcher’s Monday video did more than just address a scandal; it rolled out an adjusted business model as a result of the audience’s financial needs. In this case, the situation bears more similarities to situations like the Dungeons & Dragons Open Game License debacle of 2023, where mass accusations of greed and transparent capitalism led to a direct policy change.   


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Tara McCauley
Nerd at large, Tara McCauley's happiest playing or writing about tabletop role playing games. Tara joined The Escapist in October 2023 as a freelance contributor. She covers such TV shows as Fargo and games/fandoms like Dungeons & Dragons. In addition to The Escapist, Tara has gushed about her favorite pop culture topics at CBR, MXDWN, and Monstrous Femme. When she's not writing or rolling dice, Tara can be found catching up on her favorite sitcoms, curled up with a horror comic, or waxing poetic about the WNBA.