To those outside of YouTube, Social Blade is just another analytics site that tracks subscriber growth or loss. But it’s not. Social Blade has become a crucial component to being a YouTube creator, providing creators with numbers to prove why they matter as a community.
Now, Social Blade’s time might be up. YouTube’s product team is introducing a change to the platform in August that will hide live subscriber counts. The change will affect third-party sites that use YouTube’s API to render their data, including Social Blade. Dozens of YouTube channels dedicated to live-streaming subscriber battles (like T-Series versus PewDiePie) will no longer work because they won’t have access to Social Blade’s data counter. Social Blade was the first site to quantify YouTube culture’s popularity with easy-to-understand data.
That’s why Social Blade’s existence means everything to the community. Its real-time subscriber counter has become the face of success, and sometimes failure. Social Blade’s counter is just as recognizable as some top creators, and quite frankly, its counter is the most aesthetically pleasing. That’s why many people tweeted in support of the site on Thursday night, managing to get “#SaveSocialBlade” trending across the United States.
“If this had come into effect a few months sooner, the whole PewDiePie vs T-Series meme wouldn’t have even been a thing,” popular YouTube meme creator Grandayy tweeted. “#SaveSocialBlade.”
Some of YouTube’s biggest cultural moments have relied on or incorporated Social Blade. T-Series’ meteoric rise was first noticed by Social Blade; beauty guru Tati Westbrook’s fight with makeup superstar James Charles was fought with Social Blade statistics. It’s not just drama, though. Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon used a live Social Blade counter to celebrate passing 20 million subscribers with his audience. Watching that counter move and cross over into a million, 5 million, or 10 million subscribers is a cultural staple on YouTube — that’s because of Social Blade.
To say the response from the community to Social Blade’s predicament overwhelmed the team would be an understatement.
“Since we provide most of our services to the community for free as a community service without requiring even a log in most of the time we don’t really even know who is using it,” Social Blade CEO Jason Urgo told The Verge via email. “The amount of people, big and small that have been showing their support and even got us to become a trending topic in a couple of countries last night is just so humbling.”
Many creators used the #SaveSocialBlade hashtag as a way to point out how necessary Social Blade has always been. YouTube has slowly added to its internal studio tool for YouTubers, and is trying to get more people to rely on some of the platform’s internal metric tools that are just being introduced. Killing off a Social Blade’s abilities, however, is the wrong way to go about it.
“To see YouTube effectively killing off Social Blade is painful to watch,” comedian and popular YouTuber Jesse Ridgway tweeted. “We’ve turned to SB for years for live subscriber counts and simplified statistics.”
Urgo told The Verge that a YouTube representative did reach out to the Social Blade team after the hashtag began trending to discuss upcoming API changes. He doesn’t know if that’s going to change anything for his website, but he’s hopeful. YouTubers are mad, and when creators get angry, YouTube tends to listen.