The most popular man on YouTube is parting ways with his production company.
Ray William Johnson, the YouTuber whose 5 million-strong subscriber base is the largest on the massive video-sharing site, announced Tuesday that Los Angeles' Maker Studios will no longer produce his supremely popular =3 (“Equals Three”) program. The announcement came during the most recent episode of his show, one that centered around a video of someone Johnson considers to be the "World's Greatest Ninja."
"You're going to notice a few things are different," Johnson says to his audience at the beginning of the clip. "One, I haven't shaved in a while. Two, I'm filming this episode from my apartment.
"In the near future, =3 will no longer be a part of Maker Studios’ network, so I'm going to film here for a while. Even if I don't have the proper equipment at home. Even if I have to film butt-ass naked in an alley, you guys are getting an episode, god dammit."
Johnson is apparently still under contract with Maker Studios, though it's likely that won't be the case for long. On Wednesday, a Maker spokeswoman told The Wrap that a trend of waning view counts—Johnson's channel received more than 100 million fewer views over the last six months than it did in the previous half-year span, according to information compiled by ChannelMeter—contributed to the company and Johnson's decision to begin the splitting process.
"Ray is still a part of the Maker Network, however with the recent decline in viewership on =3, it made sense for him to go back to producing the show himself.
"Maker providing a full production staff of 12 people including a team of writers no longer was a viable option for =3. Maker fully supports Ray's decision to go back to producing the show on his own for the time being, and we wish him continued success. We will continue to support Ray through this transition.
But Johnson's reporting a different story. On Wednesday, he told New Media Rockstars' Benny Luo that "Maker suddenly insisted on owning part of =3 [intellectual property].
"When I told them no, they stopped production on the YFM album, so I left. it had nothing to do with =3 viewership, and I'm not sure why their PR person is telling you that.
"the transfer process for the =3 channel to leave the Maker network is beginning soon, but this process can take a while."
Maker Studios has not yet responded to a Daily Dot request for comment.
Johnson did not provide a timetable for his complete split from Maker, but one thing's for certain: he's going to continue making his show, even if he has to stand butt-ass naked in an alley somewhere.
Photo via Ray William Johnson/YouTube