[Guide] How to Add Youtube Channels via RSS Subscriptions (V3 API)

In April this year, Youtube deprecated their V2 API, in favor of their V3 API, which you can read about here. There’s more information on app deprecation here. There was much gnashing of teeth as this broke a lot of feed readers (which third-party platforms like Feedly / Flipboard rely on), but thankfully for most people who just browse the site, this makes little difference. This constant march by Google towards herding everybody towards using the Youtube website can be annoying at times, but like always, there is a technical solution.


Why not just rely on the Youtube website / app?

  • The ‘My Subscriptions’ page will eventually max out and you will miss videos. Depending on the number of subscriptions you have, this could be as soon as within a few days, or around the 200 video mark. Devious by design, to keep you coming back regularly and logging in, a bad habit. The email notification system is often incomplete. With RSS feeds, you can come back in months or years and you will miss no videos.
  • On the mobile Youtube apps, the ‘My Subscriptions’ page has a habit of returning to the top randomly, requiring alot of re-scrolling.
  • I also found some videos didn’t show up on the upload list, especially videos from niche channels.
  • There is a hard limit of the number of channels you can subscribe to.
  • With RSS feeds, you can apply your own filters, on topics of interest or other criteria, saving valuable time, or highlighting videos.
  • With RSS feeds, you can also send the feed directly to automatically download to a file, or send to email / Plex / MP3 / etc. Very flexible.
  • Instead of all the videos just mashed together, you can sort by uploader / title / reverse date, and so on.
  • Google knows your subscriptions and your viewing patterns, even across embedded videos on other sites. If there’s a way to subscribe anonymously to the exact same channels, choose that and stay logged out where possible.

OK, how do I subscribe to the new feeds?

Now onto the nitty gritty, if you have any feeds that begin with “https://gdata.youtube.com/feeds/“, then they have been deprecated and you’ll receive a 4xx error or some other redirection. If you previously used “http://gdata.youtube.com/feeds/base/users/(username)/newsubscriptionvideos“, it’s completely gone now, you will instead get a ‘Device Support’ error page. To my knowledge, there is no way to retrieve an updated list of all your subscriptions in one feed. You can only subscribe to videos directly to EACH individual channel. If you have hundreds of subscriptions, this could get messy. Here’s how to mass import/export them:

1) Login to Youtube, hit ‘My Subscriptions‘ on the left, and then ‘Manage XX Subscriptions‘ on the right after that.
2) Scroll to the bottom, to where it shows ‘Export to RSS readers‘, and his ‘Export Subscriptions
3) Save the resulting .OPML file somewhere. You can import this into your feed reader. If it works, you’re done. Skip to end.
4) If it doesn’t work, then the OPML format is not recognized, you will have to extract the URLs directly.
5) Open the OPML file and judiciously use ‘find and replace’ (or if you’re handy with regex, even better) till you have a list of URLs ready to open in your browser.
6) The URLs should look like this: “https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UCpT9kL2EFa91BB9CK6wK4Pg” or similar. This channel_id format replaces the old gdata format.
7) Once that’s done, open the file in your browser, and use the ‘Open All Links in Tabs’ (Firefox built-in) or Open Selected Links (Chromium) to open each link in it’s own tab.
8) The browser should detect the resulting page as an RSS feed, from there, you can forward that to the appropriate feed reader. I use Tiny Tiny RSS, which has it’s own automatic browser integration.
9) Feed items will now appear in your feed reader, with the correct name, date and time.
10) Logout from Youtube, set cookies to auto-wipe and rejoice at never having to login again.

Other notes

  • I’d also recommend installing the RSS Feed icon extensions for Chromium and Firefox, as this allows you to easily subscribe to new channels in the future. Each Youtube channel you visit, will have an RSS icon in the address bar, which you can then use to add to your preferred feed reader.
  • Channels which have been suspended or closed, will yield a 4xx error when attempting to fetch their RSS feed.
  • If you want to download videos, I’d highly recommend using youtube-dl, which I’ve been using happily for years. It can download a multitude of formats, subtitles, with an incredible number of output and conversion options, also supporting hundreds of other sites (Vimeo / Liveleak / DailyMotion / etc). If you’re on Ubuntu, don’t use the default repo version, it’s quite outdated. Clone from git instead or use the pip version.
  • If you want to manually extract a channel’s ID, go to their Youtube page, hit View Source (or Ctrl+U), and look for the line “yt.setConfig(‘CHANNEL_ID’, “UClqhvHGHcvWL9w4R48t9QXQ”);”. That’s the channel ID.






One thought on “[Guide] How to Add Youtube Channels via RSS Subscriptions (V3 API)

  1. I use Allavsoft to download YouTube subscriptions, shows, history, playlist etc

    I like its batch downloading funtion and directly download video from YouTube to MP4, MP3, AVI, MOV, WMV, FLV, TS, MPEG, etc.

    It has both Mac and Windows version.

    Hope it also helps for you.

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