I can’t remember all the specific details, but I do believe that Matt Maran (better known as subuaruwrxfan) is the first automotive youtuber I subscribed to way back in 2015. I was completely new to the platform way back then, and it was incredibly exciting to discover that there were already people (like Matt) doing what I had been personally dreaming about doing myself for years: independent car reviews.
Matt’s enthusiasm for doing car reviews was evident in every video, and I was immediately hooked. As far as I was concerned, the subaruwrxfan YouTube channel was the best – and the one I compared all other car review channels to.
He had approximately 200,000 subscribers at that time, growing at a rate of 7,000 per month. As a matter of fact, the massive success he was having was what inspired me to start my own automotive channel shortly thereafter (using all of the tips for staring an automotive YouTube channel that I regularly give to others).
However, he hasn’t done well to keep up with the times as well as other big automotive YouTubers have. His channel performance has suffered, and he’s slowly losing his relevance as a big(ish) name in the automotive community.
Why is this happening? Let’s take a closer look at all the reasons why:
The subaruwrxfan channel is nearly the same as it was when Matt launched it on July 19, 2009
Back when I first discovered Matt in 2015, he had aleady established himself as one of the top independent car reviewers on YouTube. He had already built up an extensive collection of incredibly in-depth car reviews, and I specifically remember binge-watching his content for days. If there was a car that I was interested in, chances were pretty good that the subaruwrxfan youtube channel had an in-depth video of it.
Almost immediately, I was drawn to his very repetitive style of car reviews. Matt followed a very simple (but effective) format for each one:
- A 10-15 second intro showing video clips of the car to high-energy dance music
- Matt stood at the front divers side fender with the following intro: “Hey everyone, subaruwrxfan here back again with another car review. This is of course the…”
- The first 5 minutes were spent inside the car going over all the interior features from left to right (including making a comment about how squishy the center arm rest is in *every* car)
- He then set off for a leisurely low-speed drive to allow time to give a quick summary of his first impressions
- Next came the infamous “let’s turn onto this back road…” subaruwrxfan quote – which always came before the first big acceleration
- If the car is fast enough, you would then hear Matt laugh hysterically like an overexcited schoolgirl
- The rest of the review was spent giving engine specs and performance numbers in between hard accelerations, followed by overall driving impressions and the wrapup
This formula of doing car reviews worked (and continues to work) well. Unfortunately, now that I’ve been watching his channel for so long, it’s all become extremely repetitive and I don’t find myself clicking on his videos very often anymore. I know what to expect even before watching it, and I no longer find subaruwrxfan content as exciting as I once did.
I know. It’s the “Matt Maran Motoring” YT channel now, and he’s making a very big effort to separate himself from his old brand name. Unfortunately, his content hasn’t changed at all and it’s hard for me to let go of old habits.
Finally, before moving onto the next point, I think it‘s important to give an example of an automotive YouTuber who has successfully evolved with the times
That example is: TJ Hunt.
I actually started watching TJ Hunt right about the same time I started watching subaruwrxfan, and back then, TJ was doing a lot of car reviews as well. However, he quickly grew out of that once he realized his audience was a lot more interested in seeing him mod his BRZ and learning how to drift.
For the record, TJ has grown immensely by taking risks and doing new things, while Matt hasn’t grown at all. Which leads me to my next point:
Matt is extremely conservative and hesitant to take risks
The example I gave above is all that really needs to be said about how risk-adverse Matt has been all along – even since the subaruwrxfan days. While others continue to push the limits of what they are capable of (such as thestradman and his resulting net worth increase), Matt has remained steady and not very willing to do things which makes his audience say “wow!”
Matt seemed to be on the right track back when he had his Subaru BRZ (and even after that with his first Mustang). He realized that his audience wanted to see him mod those cars and have fun with them, and he happily obliged with things like aftermarket tunes, exhaust systems, and wheels (among other stuff).
However, he’s not very mechanically inclined, which meant big headaches for him when problems arose with required endless trips to the repair shop. This turned him off to modifying his cars, and there hasn’t been any of this kind of content on his channel since.
Now here we are 6 years later, and the content he is producing is exactly the same as the old subaruwrxfan content that we were watching back then. And I don’t know about you, l but…I’m getting bored with it.
He doesn’t collaborate (much) with other content creators
Ok. Yeah, there was that one time that he and streetspeed717 made a video together. And he did recently do a group review out in Portland with a handful of other semi-successful car vloggers, but those are rare cases. 99% of Matt’s content is solo – and I believe it to be one of the things which makes him less interesting to new viewers.
Guys like streetspeed717, TJ Hunt, thestradman, and Adam LZ are constantly filming with friends and other YouTubers. Their videos are much more entertaining because of if (my opinion at least) and I find Matt’s content to br comparatively stale. It’s not bad by any means. It’s just a bit dry.
Humans are social creatures, and we’re naturally drawn to companionship. I totally understand the feeling of being introverted (I’m a huge introvert myself), but I can’t help but to think that Matt’s content would be a lot more entertaining with some friendly banter with others.
Killing the subaruwrxfan brand name certainly didn’t help
As I write this article, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to say “Matt Maran” instead of “subaruwrxfan”. His decision to rebrand his channel in 2017 was shocking to me at first, but I quickly jumped onboard with with it knowing that it was probably the right thing to do for long term growth.
However, here we are two years later and I’ll still not comfortable with the change. Part of me feels like he blindly threw away and disregarded his past. I know that it wasn’t like that at all, as he struggled quite a bit with this change. But still. I can’t help but to wonder how many other of his long time fans feel overly nostalgic for the subaruwrxfan name and wish that it would have lived on.
I understand that Matt wants to establish himself as a big (and very legitimate) name in the world of car reviews, and having an amateur-sounding name like something a teen boy would come up with in 10 seconds or less might hold him back in the future.
But as a long time viewer, it’s still hard for me to wrap my head around the “Matt Maran” branding. Almost to the point of feeling like it’s just not quite the same channel anymore. Is it wrong of me to wonder if there are other long time fans of his that feel the same way?
Okay, this sounds really negative so far. Is there anything at all that Matt is doing right?
Despite all the doom and gloom I’ve spewed so far, there are a handful of things that are working very well in Matt’s favor. He’s not entirely off track, and with a little bit more focus I really believe he could turn things around and become one of the biggest automotive car review channels on YouTube. Again.
The first thing that Matt is already doing right (which stems back all the way to his subaruwrxfan days), is taking advantage of his unique personality. Long story short, he can be very enthusiastic when doing car reviews, causing him to say hilarious things every now and then. Thankfully, he’s very aware of this.
For example, Matt is best known for his “let’s turn on to this back road and see what see how it does…” quote. This quote consistently occurs at the most exciting moment in his reviews (the moment in which he accelerates hard for the first time, which is always hilariously good fun in fast cars).
Thankfully, he is aware of how much his audience loves this line, and he was smart enough to monetize with t-shirts. Unfortunately, he botched it with a very ugly design IMHO. But his intentions were good and he’s definitely on the right track by doing this sort of thing.
The other thing Matt is doing right is creating searchable / evergreen content. Instead of other vloggers who create “empty” videos on a daily basis (with vague titles which nobody would ever search for), Matt is creating useful car reviews that will continue to provide value for years to come. People are always searching for car reviews on YouTube, and thanks to his early subaruwrxfan days, he has an extensive catalog of excellent car reviews with high search value.
Another way of saying this is that unlike other car vloggers such as TJ Hunt, thestradman, Adam LZ, and superspeedersrob, Matt doesn’t get many views on each new upload. However, his views continue to trickle in consistently over time as people search for car reviews. In comparison, the videos that other automotive vloggers upload will usually die after the first week or so and not get much more views after that (because it isn’t searchable / evergreen content).
What are some other things that Matt can do to save his dying YouTube channel?
Thankfully for Matt, he has a very large (and established) audience to use as a springboard for new revenue streams (in addition to some of the things I already discussed so far). If I were Matt, there are two things that need to be heavily promoted in a commercial way, which will in turn ignite more excitement for his brand and increase the subscriber count:
- The speed in which he always said “subaruwrxfan” became funny to many of his long time viewers. Almost to the point of it becoming a joke, with many leaving comments such as “heyeveryoneit’ssubaruwrexsssfakssnfsnnm” (or the equivalent) as a way of jokingly mocking him for his enthusiasm. Of course this was all in good fun, and it became a funny and consistent meme after a while. If I were Matt, I’d go all in on this with this quote on t-shirts and hats because he’s already got an audience willing to purchase such things.
- The “subaruwrxfan giggle” is another thing that is unique to Matt Maran. First time viewers of his channel probably cringe when seeing him (a fully grown man) giggle like a schoolgirl when driving an insanely fast car. However, his long time viewers are very familiar with that by now, to the point of it being something that most everyone looks forward to in a new video. For those of you out there who have no idea what I’m talking about, you can witness the giggle at the 7:50 minute in the following video:
So yeah – the subaruwrxfan giggle. Matt needs to go all in on the fact that his audience loves it, with some sort of a product that allows his fans to show their appreciation for it. I will admit that a silly laugh is a hard thing to monetize, but…how about a ringtone pack or something?
Anyway, taking full advantage of all the things his audience loves and adores about him will help him break out of the stagnation that he’s been stuck in for so dang long.
That’s just my opinion anyway. What are your thoughts? Do you believe as I do that Matt’s channel is in a continuous state of decline and that he needs to change things up to remain relevant in the long term? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!