Watcher Leaves YouTube for Its Own Paid Streaming Service Spurring Fan Backlash

Watcher, the YouTube channel behind popular series like Ghost Files, Too Many Spirits, and Puppet History, left fans feeling in the lurch with the unexpected announcement that they will be departing YouTube to pursue their own ad-free streaming service.

Recommended Videos

The history of YouTubers branching out into the realm of boutique streaming services and other subscription models is dubious at best, with Dropout finding tremendous success and something like Screen Junkies Plus struggling to gain traction. Though Watcher’s independent streaming service flaunts many surface-level similarities to Dropout – the 5.99$ a month price point, ad-free programming, and encouraged password/account sharing – the early reaction to this news foretells a vastly contrasting fate.

Watcher’s Friday announcement was met with a resounding 175K dislikes and a mass subscriber exodus from their YouTube channel. The video’s comment section and social media reaction ranged from disappointment to disbelief as fans reconciled that the shows they’d enjoyed for years would soon transition behind a paywall. The channel and its creators have not yet commented on the overwhelmingly negative outcry, though a portion of the audience holds out hope that this deluge of critical feedback will see them walk back or at least adjust their plans for Watcher TV.

According to Friday’s video, Watcher TV’s rollout will be relatively swift. The beta version of Watcher TV is already open to subscribers, with the official launch and paywall taking effect on May 31. In the announcement, Watcher attempted to incentivize subscribers with promised perks that included increased production quality, the new series Travel Season, and a member-exclusive ability to vote for the resurrection of one dead show from the Watcher archives. Unfortunately for Watcher, these offers have done very little to entice fans into following them in their jump from YouTube.

The point about production quality rang particularly false to the fans who first became enamored with Watcher founders Shane Madej and Ryan Bergara through Buzzfeed Unsolved. Before any major budgets were involved, Buzzfeed Unsolved‘s appeal derived simply from the millennial Mulder and Scully dynamic of the pair. In those Halcyon years, the believer and the skeptic would simply banter about the morbid worlds of true crime and the supernatural, supported by simple graphics.

In December 2019, Bergara, Madej, and fellow BuzzFeed alumn Steven Lim launched Watcher and tweaked the BuzzFeed Unsolved formula into Ghost Files. Watcher would begin to develop their own voice outside of Buzzfeed with original series like Puppet History, Top 5 Beatdown, and the gaming series Survival Mode. Access to these series will soon exist exclusively on Watcher TV, with the exception of season premieres and trailers which will still be posted to YouTube. Though, with the now dwindling subscriber count on Watcher’s original home, the fate of future programming may now hinge significantly on the channel’s streaming gamble.


The Escapist is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more
related content
Read Article Netflix Purportedly Developing a Sakamoto Days Anime & Fans Are Worried
Sakamoto Days Volume 1 cover
Read Article MultiVersus Trailer Reveals Ridiculous Banana Guards in Action
One of the Banana Guards in Multiversus
Read Article Fortnite Reveals a Fallout Collab Is on the Way
Related Content
Read Article Netflix Purportedly Developing a Sakamoto Days Anime & Fans Are Worried
Sakamoto Days Volume 1 cover
Read Article MultiVersus Trailer Reveals Ridiculous Banana Guards in Action
One of the Banana Guards in Multiversus
Read Article Fortnite Reveals a Fallout Collab Is on the Way
Author
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.