YouTube Needs to Fix the Subscriptions Tab!

I’ve been a part of the YouTube community for about 18 years, starting as an avid viewer and transitioning into a content creator over the last decade. Over the years, I’ve observed the platform’s evolution, especially the algorithmic recommendations on the homepage. While these recommendations often present me with content I’m genuinely interested in, there are times when I miss out on channels I want to catch up with.

I think YouTube can fix this problem by updating their “Subscriptions Tab” to make it easier to organize and navigate subscribed channels. This is the subject of my latest video.

Last year I delved deeper into RSS feeds, a standard for content distribution that can be used with an RSS feed reader to aggregate content from various sources into one organized space. This exploration was an eye-opener as I discovered I was missing content from many of my favorite creators including some larger ones.

Apparently if you don’t religiously watch a creator you’re effectively “shadow unsubscribed” and rarely see their uploads on the recommended home page.

This discrepancy led me to revisit YouTube’s subscriptions tab which gives users the “fire hose” of everything uploaded from subscribed channels in the order in which those videos were posted.

The experience varies across devices. On desktop, it’s a mix of live channels and a chronological list of videos from subscribed channels. On a TV, there’s a semblance of organization with frequently watched channels appearing at the top but no way to control what channels get pinned to the top of that list. The mobile version offers filters like ‘Live’ and ‘Continue Watching’, but the overall experience remains cluttered – especially if you’re subscribed to channels that dump a whole bunch of content at once.

The subscription tab on TV pins frequently watched channels to the top.

One feature I appreciate on YouTube’s algorithmically generated homepage is the topic-based organization of its recommendations. It would be beneficial if such a system were integrated into the subscriptions tab, allowing users to view content from their subscribed channels based on specific topics.

To experiment with this idea, I set up my own RSS reader dedicated to YouTube. Using FreshRSS, I organized channels into topics, creating a streamlined content consumption experience. This approach allowed me to view content from local news stations, hyper-local channels, and other niche interests, all in one place.

In addition to subscribing to channels YouTube also allows the generation of feeds for playlists too. For example I added the playlist for Wil Wheaton’s “Ready Room” Star Trek interview show on the Paramount+ as that’s about the only thing I watch from their channel.

The best part about the RSS approach is that it’s more efficient from a viewing perspective and lets ME choose what not to watch vs. having an algorithm do it for me. Being able to see what I’m passing over is preferable to not seeing it at all IMHO.

While I appreciate YouTube’s efforts in content recommendation, there’s room for improvement in the subscriptions tab. As both a viewer and a creator, I believe that refining this feature will enhance the user experience, ensuring that we never miss out on content from our favorite creators.