Watcher Responds to Fan Backlash Over Subscription Service by Saying New Content Will Be Free on YouTube After One Month: ‘We Messed Up’

The three founders of Watcher Entertainment apologized to fans for their announcement that they were exiting YouTube and would put their new shows exclusively on their own subscription-streaming service. In response to a torrent of negative comments, Watcher’s Steven Lim, Ryan Bergara and Shane Madej said they were revising the plan — and will now make their originals available for free on YouTube on month after subscribers get access to them.

“We messed up,” Watcher CEO Steven Lim said in a YouTube video posted Monday.

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Madej said in the video, “We’ve been reading the things you’ve been saying, and we’re sorry for the way we handled this, as well as the way we communicated it. We understand where you’re coming from — and we’re making immediate changes.”

On Friday, Watcher, formed in 2019 by the three former BuzzFeed hosts, said that going forward full seasons of new shows like “Ghost Files,” “Mystery Files,” “Road Files” and “Puppet History” would be available only on its new streaming service ( — for $5.99/month or $59.99/year. Fans reacted with a mix of dismay, anger and sarcasm to the announcement, prompting Watcher to change its plans. Previously, Watcher was intending to share only the first episode of new seasons on YouTube, with a paid subscription required to watch full seasons. All past videos of Watcher Entertainment’s show from the past four years are going to remain on YouTube.

In addition to make new episodes available one month for free on YouTube after their subscription-platform debut, Watcher fans who pay for a Patreon subscription will receive a free subscription code to the Watcher streaming platform, Lim said. Watcher also will refund anyone who signed up for the streaming platform if they decide they don’t want to pay for it, now that all content will be free on YouTube after the 30-day exclusive window.

In the video Monday, Bergara said that Watcher’s original goodbye message to YouTube “was insensitive. We didn’t properly express how much we appreciate all of you, and we did a really bad job of explaining the reasoning behind this transition.”

Lim added, “We also want to deeply apologize for our ignorance around the impact of the cost [of the Watcher subscription-streaming service]. We regret stating and implying that it’s a price that anybody can afford, and we fully acknowledge that it is not.”

Watcher would have been forced to shut down if it had continued to keep its content solely on YouTube, according to Bergara. He said Watcher didn’t want to “compromise” its content to make sure it met advertiser requirements and “we definitely did not want to lay people off that have brought Watcher to life behind the scenes.” However, Bergara said, in “figuring out the logistics of what this might take, we overlooked the way it would impact all of you. We hope you’ll be patient with us through these mistakes, and we remain incredibly sorry that they were made in the first place.”

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