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How To Tell If a YouTube Channel is Buying Views or Subscribers?

If you notice that a channel has suddenly increased their views or subscriber count, they could be buying engagement to boost their numbers. Learn more about that and other signs, and how to tell if a YouTube channel is buying views or subscribers.
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How to Tell If a YouTube Channel is Buying Views or Subscribers
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Buying YouTube views and subscribers is an effective and oft-used practice by creators and social media marketers. Despite that, however, channel owners typically want to make their own use of this growth strategy as invisible as possible to the public eye. 

Why Do YouTubers Hide It When They Buy Views and Subscribers?

There are good reasons for wanting to keep your purchase of YouTube engagement private. 

Namely, when people find out that you didn’t organically generate all your views and subscribers, they perceive you as being inauthentic and not trustworthy. This perception can damage your reputation as a creator and cause you to lose real followers. 

That doesn’t mean that you should buy views or subscribers at all! After all, it’s an industry standard strategy for growing your channel, and it’s also completely legal. It just means that you have to learn how to conceal it – and how to spot it on other channels, such as those belonging to your competitors. 

Not only can you learn if your competitors are as popular as they claim to be this way, but you can also learn from their mistakes in hiding their paid engagement. 

6 Signs That a YouTube Channel is Buying Views or Subscribers

To help you identify when a YouTube channel is buying views or subscribers, keep an eye out for these six signs.

1. A Sudden and Huge Jump in Views or Subscribers

The most obvious sign that a channel is buying views or subscribers is when you detect a sudden and huge jump in views or subscribers for that creator’s content. 

When we say, “sudden,” we mean with respect to the rapidity of the increase (within hours or overnight, typically), but also with respect to the history of the account. 

For example, if all of a creator’s videos in the past three months received no more than 1000 views each, it’s going to look strange if one of their videos gains 10,000 views in less than 24 hours.

The same can be said for the subscriber count, as well. Having only a few hundred subscribers (or less) one day, and then gaining a few thousand the next is quite a shocking turn of events. It’s also highly unlikely to be the result of organic engagement. 

The only time that it might be possible for such an abrupt increase is if one of the creator’s videos goes viral. During such a circumstance, channels often experience large and fast boosts in views and subscribers. 

But it’s also not so easy to manufacture a viral video and make it look natural. If you’re not seeing it anywhere else on the internet or trending on YouTube, it’s probably the result of paying for engagement.

2. A High View Count or Subscriber Count Vs Low Number of Comments

Another sign that a channel has bought and paid for subscribers or views is the lack of other types of engagement, like comments, on their content. 

Think about it: If a video or a channel is getting that much attention, shouldn’t there be a lot of people leaving comments, too? 

But if that’s not the case, then that could indicate that the view count or subscriber count is being inflated with paid accounts. Those accounts are only getting paid to perform a specific action – watching or subscribing – meaning they’re not obligated to interact with the content in any other way. Hence the low number of comments.

3. A Sudden and Significant Decrease in Views or Subscribers

A sudden and significant decrease in views or subscribers on a channel is another sign that there’s paid engagement afoot. 

This mainly happens when a creator (perhaps unknowingly) purchases engagement from fake accounts. Fake accounts, or bots, violate YouTube’s Terms of Service, so whenever the platform finds them, it removes them post haste. 

The result? A dramatic drop in the views or subscribers that the channel owner paid good money for. It may occur over the course of a few hours or even a few days, but it’s always noticeable.

4. A High View Count or Subscriber Count on a New Channel

Unless the YouTuber behind a new channel already has a significant following on a different channel or another social media platform, it’s unrealistic that they will gain a large number of views or subscribers in a short amount of time. 

So, if you see a new user that just joined the platform a few days or weeks ago, and they already have thousands of views or subscribers, there’s a high likelihood that they may have purchased them.

5. Subscribers with Generic or Blank Profiles

If you’re suspicious of a YouTuber’s subscriber count, you can always check the channels of each subscriber and see if you spot any generic or blank profiles. Profiles that are devoid of any type of activity, as well as missing a profile picture, a banner, a bio, and any other identifying information, are often bots.

6. Subscribers With Fake-Sounding Names

A secondary method of rooting out paid subscribers is by reading their names. Paid subscribers that are run by bots typically have fake-sounding names. They may be generic, as in John Smith or Jane Doe, or they may consist of a lot of random letters and numbers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Tell If a YouTube Channel is Buying Views or Subscribers?

Yes, there are at least six signs (see above) that tell you if a YouTube channel is buying views or subscribers.

Is It Illegal to Buy YouTube Views or Subscribers?

No, it’s not illegal to buy YouTube views or subscribers. Rather, it’s a common growth strategy that YouTube creators regularly use.

Why Is It Bad For People To Know That You Bought Views or Subscribers on YouTube?

While buying YouTube views or subscribers is neither bad nor illegal, it can damage your reputation with real users on the platform.


For your own protection and to keep up with your competitors, it’s important to know how to tell if a YouTube channel is buying views or subscribers. Use the six signs in this article to help you keep your own engagement purchases invisible, and to keep an eye on the channels that aren’t doing as great a job.

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