The idea of the YouTube streams was always to encourage people to subscribe on the Railcam.uk website. Covid-19 and the various restrictions and lockdowns, meant that we have left the streams live on YouTube for longer than we ever intended, but they were never intended to be a permanent fixture.
It’s important to understand that it costs money to install and run a camera, even on YouTube There are server costs, hardware costs, travel to install and maintain the cameras. There is often a commercial broadband service to fund in order to stream the cameras at all. All of this has to be funded and there has to be a benefit to Railcam and our paying subscribers in providing a free service on YouTube.
It’s also important to note the time and effort that people put into the streams; the people that keep the streams running and fix problems when they arise, fix them when they fail – not to mention our volunteer chat moderators who have the unenviable task of keeping order in the chat.
Sadly, it has become clear that instead of being an advertisement for the Railcam website as intended, it has become an alternative to it. The overwhelming majority of YouTube viewers have no intention of contributing towards the substantial costs of operating the service. It’s not fair on our subscribers to expect them to subsidise a free service which doesn’t benefit the main site. It’s clear that we should spend valuable subscription money on improving the service (better servers, more cameras, new features etc) instead of funding a way to avoid contributing.
We won’t be withdrawing from YouTube entirely, but the nature and number of streams will change. Some cameras which have been a permanent fixture on YouTube will only be available on the Railcam website, except for occasional spells as the “Camera-of-the-Week” on one of our Railcam Sampler streams.