Pewdiepie’s reign as the biggest YouTube channel may soon be over

Pewdiepie’s reign as the biggest YouTube channel may soon be over

August 30, 2018 0 By Nazmul Khan

Felix “Pewdiepie” Kjellberg has held the YouTube crown for so long that it’s almost unthinkable to imagine another channel surpassing his enormous 65 million subscriber count. But the infamous Swedish comedian is currently gearing up for what he sees as the inevitable moment that he will no longer be the biggest channel on YouTube.

Yesterday, Kjellberg uploaded a (partially ironic) video where he addresses the YouTube gossip that another channel will soon surpass his subscriber count. According to his estimate, this event will happen sometime around November — so he playfully challenges the contender to a “saber fight.”

The channel is none other than T-Series, an Indian music production company that has been trailing Kjellberg for some time now. Best known as a source for Bollywood music videos, T-Series currently has 59 million subscribers, about 6 million behind Kjellberg. According to YouTube tracker Social Blade, T-Series has recently been growing at a rate of about 141,000 subscribers per day. Kjellberg, whose recent videos largely revolve around satirical YouTube commentary or ongoing reviews of memes submitted by his fan base, tends to average around 29,000 daily subscribers. It’s enough to maintain the enormous gap between him and most other channels on YouTube, but not enough to match the incredible rate of T-Series’ growth. India, after all, has a population of over a billion people, and T-Series is one of the country’s leading sources for music on YouTube. YouTube’s search and recommendation algorithm benefits musical artists more than Kjellberg in general, never mind when a single channel is the go-to source for a huge country.

Image: Social Blade

“The time has come for us to fight back,” Kjellberg says in the video where he jokingly rallies his fan base against T-Series. This antagonism is all for show, of course; it’s not like T-Series is a specific person who can actually duke it out with Kjellberg in the way that he suggests. But as the recent Logan Paul vs. KSI event shows, rivalries play a huge role on YouTube because they give viewers narratives where pseudo-heroes and villains exist with low (if any) stakes. T-Series gives Kjellberg a safe place to play out a beef without risking much. A company isn’t likely to make a response video or a diss track, and they aren’t likely to launch campaigns to try to beat Kjellberg either. It’s internet kayfabe of the highest order.

Kjellberg may not be serious, but some of his fans are mobilizing against T-Series’ YouTube channel all the same. If you click on any of T-Series’ recent uploads, the comments are filled with fans joking about the “feud” between the two channels or slamming T-Series.

A selection of the Pewdiepie fan comments:

“Bro fist army where are you?! ”
“You dare challenge the king?”
“A L E X A D E L E T E T H I S C H A N N E L”
“War is coming… prepare yourself T-series and your terrible content“
“Everyone needs to downvote this video”

T-Series’ recent videos have been mostly overrun by swarms of Pewdiepie-related comments, some of which encourage people to down-vote or report the channel’s uploads. The votes on one recent video I clicked on last night, which no longer seems to be available on the channel, appeared to be half dislikes, a rare occurrence on the platform usually reserved for creators who have made a misstep or otherwise displeased the community. As T-Series grows larger, it seems likely that the chaos below its videos will only increase.

While the Kjellberg’s dethroning will undoubtedly be a significant YouTube event, the Pewdiepie channel will still maintain plenty of influence on the cultural landscape of YouTube and other creator platforms. T-Series, after all, is not a personality — meaning that in a way, Kjellberg can continue to be the “face” of YouTube, if only literally. Regardless, it’ll still be some pressure off Kjellberg’s back. If T-Series prevails, nobody can append “biggest channel on YouTube” to Kjellbergs’ name anymore. In the meantime, Kjellberg does as any YouTuber would: urge his viewers to smash that subscribe button.

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