UPDATE 05/03/19: A lot has gone on in the battle between PewDiePie and T-Series since this was originally published. PewDiePie has collaborated with Elon Musk, raised money for a children’s charity, and even been featured at the Super Bowl. But, at this time of writing, T-Series is gaining on PewDiePie dramatically and even temporarily overtook him; they may do so for good before either reaches 90 million subs. The end is nigh, but what a war it has been.
There’s a war going on, one with far more soldiers under the age of ten than any conflict in history. The march of one side is endless, their ranks bolstered constantly and almost robotically like the Skynet production line. The other side is just doing all it can to stay ahead in what feels like a futile but dedicated mission: every time the enemy looks like getting close, reinforcements arrive at the last second.
I am, of course, talking about PewDiePie vs. T-Series for the number one spot on YouTube. Having held the distinction for many years, PewDiePie’s (real name Felix Kjellberg) grip on the throne is under threat from T-Series: a channel catering to the Indian market that’s seen an almighty surge in popularity over the last year. On Sunday, November 12th alone, the channel earned a 326,149 net gain in subscribers.
T-Series may seem as if they’ve come out of nowhere, but they’ve actually been a part of the platform since 2006. In that time, they’ve amassed the most amount of videos for any channel (54,663,050,951 views at this time of writing) and average about 54 million views per day.
For comparison, PewDiePie has earned 19,363,223,751 views since his channel began and 11 million or so daily views. Whichever way you slice it, that gap is going to close for good some day soon.
Realistically, it should have already happened.
There has been a staggering 13000 videos uploaded to T-Series’ YouTube channel in the twelve years since it began with many videos often being uploaded on the same day. PewDiePie –as much as a workaholic as he admits to being– simply cannot compete with the output, as well as the production quality.
The demographic for T-Series’ content is also not insignificant: the content is suitable for all ages and reaches an audience on YouTube that may not be able to find the latest music videos elsewhere. While their content can’t please every single one of their 73 million subscribers, the overwhelming variety means that at least some of it will connect. Their views for videos from the last seven days range from 285K views to an almighty 31M views.
So, then, it feels like a matter of not if, but when for T-Series taking the top spot from PewDiePie. They’ve come close plenty of times already only for saviours to swoop in and use their clout to save PewDiePie’s spot for the foreseeable future.
Serial donator Mr. Beast rented out billboards asking people to subscribe to PewDiePie before later saying his name 100,000 times for reasons that were probably obvious to him at the time. Markiplier, affectionately known as Red PewDiePie, joined the “fight” on Sunday, November 12th by asking his viewers on stream to subscribe after nearly an hour of rambling — it worked.
Why are so many people rallying behind PewDiePie, a polarising character with some controversies under his belt (that may be balanced by the good he’s done)? His audience “biting back” is the obvious answer, but there’s something deeper to the story that speaks for the state of YouTube itself.
YouTube hasn’t really been YouTube for a long time, at least not the same YouTube that many adopted the platform for. It’s been a stifling time for content creators in the last couple of years with smaller channels getting demonetised (including ours) and stricter rules placed on the type of content that can be monetised.
It’s not really “you” any more in the truly expressive sense, rather a version of you that has to be stifled to still make a living — and even then that’s not always enough. There’s an image of the platform that those behind the scenes want to project with their annual narcissism festival, and then there’s the real YouTube. It’s complicated and often ugly, but at least it’s the reality.
PewDiePie vs. T-Series is a fight that many can get behind (ironically or not) as it could be viewed as the last stand for indie creators versus the corporations that have been creeping onto the platform and making it feel like an endless variety hour on a low-budget TV channel. Many flocked to YouTube as an escape from normal television, but now with the amount of networks and companies adopting the platform as a marketing arm, it’s hard to see much of a distinction these days.
PewDiePie’s status as the biggest YouTuber for this long should be recognised as an incredible achievement, there’s no doubt about that. To the best of my knowledge, he only leans on two editors for help with his channel, which makes his feat as an independent creator even more impressive. His eventual usurping at the hands of a corporation could be a sign of the future face of the platform, and it’s not one that many can gel with, myself included.
While the battle may soon be over for good, it’s been a good fight for the good of YouTube.
PewDiePie vs. T-Series: Live Subscriber Count
The video above shows the battle between PewDiePie and T-Series going on live with a live chat also available, but you should probably just ignore that.