Other figures seem incorrect, but are more difficult to verify. Ozy told Axios in January that the company’s newsletters had “more than 20 million subscribers.” By comparison, Morning Brew, a successful newsletter-based business media company, says it has three million subscribers.
“I’ve never heard an explanation from Ozy that made sense to me,” said Brian Morrissey, the former editor-in-chief of Digiday, a digital media and tech industry publication. He said he was struck by the company’s claims, adding, “then you do the gut check, and never in my life has a piece of Ozy content entered my world organically.”
Mr Watson said in the email that he understood the skepticism but that Ozy’s growth was “completely real”.
“It’s the result of our team acting pretty fearlessly to launch and grow five newsletters, 12 TV shows, six podcasts, now four annual festivals starting next year and the Ozy Genius Awards,” he said. “Each of our verticals is thriving and we stand behind our numbers and performance.”
But the company has exaggerated its success on major platforms, as well as the strength of its relationship with them. For example, billboards in Los Angeles say “The Carlos Watson Show” is “Amazon Prime’s First Talk Show.” Ozy even uploaded the show to the platform through a service called “video direct,” which many YouTube channels use to pull in additional views on Amazon’s video platform, but which receive no promotion from Amazon Prime Video itself. Last week, Amazon complained that using Ozy’s brand name on its billboards violated its promotional guidelines; Ozy apologized and promised to remove the signs, an Amazon Prime Video spokesperson said.
Mr Watson said the billboards’ claim was “accurate” but confirmed the company would stop making that claim at Amazon’s request.
Ozy brings Mr. Watson also marketed it as “the fastest-growing talk show in YouTube history,” a quote that appears to have been taken from a question from numerous ABC’s “Good Morning America” during Mr. Watson last year. When asked about the claim, Mr. Watson said his show had more views than any other “premium daily talk show we’ve been able to identify that has launched on YouTube.”