What do Cardi B, Tesla, former Trump White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, and MSNBC host Ali Velshi all have in common?
They’re all former subscribers to Twitter Blue, Twitter’s paid subscription plan, recently revamped by owner and CEO Elon Musk, which offers blue checkmarks to anyone who pays $8 per month (or $11 per month if subscribing through an iOS device). Yes, even Tesla, a company where Musk is also CEO, appears to have unsubscribed.
Elon Musk wanted more Elon Musk on Twitter so Twitter is now all Elon Musk
New Twitter Blue subscriber data released(Opens in a new tab) by online researcher Travis Brown highlights that just two months after Twitter relaunched the paid Twitter Blue tier on its platform, it appears subscription numbers may already be starting to stagnate.
Furthermore, a new report(Opens in a new tab) from journalist Steven Monacelli in Gizmodo highlights that a number of Twitter Blue verified users who have stopped subscribing to the platform yet their blue checkmark still remains active on their account. Some of these users who spoke to Monacelli canceled their subscriptions months ago, yet their account is still marked as subscribing to Twitter Blue even though they have not paid.
As Brown confirmed to me, those non-paying Twitter Blue users would be tracked as subscribers via the Twitter API, which is what the researcher uses to monitor subscription data. Brown noticed that some of the users reported on in the Gizmodo piece were among those who were finally unsubscribed in the latest data. Monacelli has also confirmed that there are users he spoke to that still have the Twitter Blue badge even after his report and Brown’s latest data release.
Over the past week, 26,319 Twitter users either unsubscribed or were removed from paid Twitter Blue plans according to Brown’s Feb. 12 data release. Some of these unsubscribed users include notable Twitter users, like rapper Cardi B, mentioned above. This would also mark the first time Twitter Blue experienced a decrease in subscribers as far as public tracking of this data goes.
There are some caveats to this tracked data, Brown tells me. Twitter sometimes removes active Twitter Blue users in order to verify them if they change their display name. Those users would usually appear as Twitter Blue subscribers once again. In addition, the only way for third-parties to track Twitter Blue subscriptions is through Twitter’s public API, and there’s a possibility that it sometimes misses new subscribers.
In addition, we now know via the Gizmodo report that some Twitter Blue users actually unsubscribe anywhere from weeks to months before actually being removed, so their cancellations may not be counted until some time later. With that being said, the most recent internal Twitter Blue subscriber data published in a report(Opens in a new tab) in The Information, found that Brown’s estimates were extremely close(Opens in a new tab).
So, how many paying Twitter Blue subscribers does Twitter actually have? That previously mentioned report(Opens in a new tab) from The Information discovered that Twitter had 180,000 Twitter Blue subscribers in the U.S. as of mid-January, with an estimated total of 290,000 subscribers worldwide.
In 2021, the year before Musk acquired the company, Twitter generated over $5 billion in revenue. Ad revenue made up(Opens in a new tab) more than 90% of that amount. Since Musk’s takeover, half of Twitter’s top advertisers stopped running ads on the platform. Musk launched his version of Twitter Blue envisioning a subscription-based model that could help make up for those losses.
Based on the latest internal data, Twitter is pulling in just less than $28 million a year…if all of those 290,000 Twitter Blue subscribers were actually paying, which we now know they are not.