PewDiePie just surpassed a new YouTube milestone, and he has T-Series to thank for it.
Felix Kjellberg aka PewDiePie just hit 80 million YouTube subscribers on Monday. The achievement marks the first time any YouTuber has reached this milestone. PewDiePie, the platform’s most well-known (and most controversial) video game vlogger, has been embroiled in a fierce rivalry in recent months with a music video channel from India, T-Series. Both want to be YouTube’s most subscribed channel. His fans have waged war against the Bollywood channel and have taken trying to help PewDiePie.
While the two channels are still battling it out for YouTube supremacy, PewDiePie and his supporters actually have T-Series to credit for breathing new life into his channel. Yes, PewDiePie has a large, hardcore fan base, but before T-Series’ ascendance, his growth was slowing as he faced scandal after scandal. Mainstream brands like Disney had deserted him. Even YouTube overlooked its most-subscribed creator in its YouTube Rewind video in 2018 and 2017, signaling the platform was intentionally overlooking him and favoring a new class of marketable creators.
And, yes, the war between PewDiePie and T-Series has certainly seen some gray-hat strategies embraced to pad subscriber counts. But this is still an important moment for PewDiePie, who wants nothing more than to stick it to his critics.
In December 2016, PewDiePie reached an impressive milestone. He became the first YouTuber to hit 50 million subscribers. At the same time, he said he was his channel, a vow that turned out to be a marketing ploy. The Swedish creator go through with it and kept on uploading videos.
Throughout 2017, PewDiePie hovered between 50 and 60 million subscribers. It took the creator the entire year to gain another 10 million subscribers. More than 12 months later, PewDiePie finally the 60 million milestone in mid-January 2018.
PewDiePie officially kicked off the battle with T-Series in September of last year. Kjellberg’s channel was hovering around 66 million subscribers when he uploaded a video of T-Series. He warned his subscribers that the Bollywood music video production company was hot on his trail and close to taking his crown.
Based on the two channels’ rate of growth at the time, it seemed like T-Series would emerge the victor before Halloween. However, PewDiePie beat T-Series to the subscriber mark in November. It took PewDiePie less than 11 months to gain 10 million subscribers for this milestone.
Months after T-Series was forecast to blow past PewDiePie, the creator still has the most subscribed channel on YouTube. On Monday, PewDiePie hit 80 million subscribers. This time around it took just under 2 months to grow another 10 million subscribers.
The sudden revival of interest in PewDiePie can be traced back to the video where he shined a light on the threat of T-Series’ growth. It rallied his troops. According to , a company that tracks social media analytics, PewDiePie’s subscriber gains exploded in the months following the T-Series video. PewDiePie went from gaining more than 855,000 subscribers in the month before the video to securing nearly 2.2 million new subscribers in the month after. Last month alone, PewDiePie’s channel grew by more than 6.2 million subscribers.
There’s no doubt that PewDiePie had a devoted fanbase even before T-Series posed a threat. But SocialBlade’s graph visualizing the last few years of analytics for PewDiePie’s monthly video views looks like a roller coaster ride. That is, up until the T-Series feud that brought PewDiePie a new high of more than 500 million views last month.
PewDiePie has certainly taken advantage of the moment. He’s upped the rivalry and wrote a rap song, “bitch lasagna,” calling out T-Series. In early October, he released a for the diss track. Just three months later, at nearly 94 million views, its PewDiePie’s most viewed video of all time. The music video has almost 10 million more views than PewDiePie’s second-most watched clip, a five-year-old video montage.
In light of his wrongdoings, PewDiePie has been able to use his race with T-Series to not only grow his channel, but to garner press. His rival is a legacy brand in India, a country with a population of 1.3 billion and growing. T-Series, an actual company with multiple employees, sometimes uploads up to a half-dozen highly produced Bollywood music videos a day to its channel. PewDiePie, the individual YouTube content creator, is the underdog in this fight.
How does the feud between PewDiePie and T-Series end? And how far do PewDiePie’s fans go to keep their favorite creator perched atop YouTube’s most subscribed list? At this point, it’s anyone’s guess. T-Series is currently just over 700,000 subscribers behind PewDiePie. His supporters have already and to promote his channel. As T-Series further encroaches on PewDiePie’s subscriber count, what comes next?
Looking at the current list of , a different question comes to mind: How important is subscriber count anyway? After PewDiePie’s 80 million and T-Series’ 79 million subscribers, no other creators come close. The channel “5 Minute Crafts” is a with 46 million subscribers.
How many of those people will actually watch either channel’s videos? How many of those accounts are actually real? Has the subscriber metric been diluted? These are legitimate questions to consider as we wait for a clear winner to emerge from this feud, if one ever does.
But, one thing is certain: T-Series is actually the best thing to happen to PewDiePie.