PewDiePie vs. T-Series shows trend in Youtube community


Photo Courtesy camknows/ Wikimedia Commons

Felix Kjellberg founded the Youtube gaming channel PewDiePie in 2010. He held the title as most subscribed Youtuber from 2013 to March of 2019, though the title was retaken a week a later and is still held by Kjellberg as of April 18.

At the beginning of 2013, the most subscribed channel on YouTube was the comedic group Smosh. Composed mainly of the duo Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox, the channel held the title of number one until December of that year, when a gaming channel, composed of Felix Kjellberg, took the position. This channel, named PewDiePie, would hold the place for five years, remaining unchallenged since then.

Then, in the summer of 2018, T-Series, an Indian music and movie company, started to threaten PewDiePie’s standing. Having gained an average of 4 million subscribers each month since October, T-Series has come close to beating PewDiePIe several times, but has only been successful one time, and that was only for roughly a week. This is due to the large support that the YouTube community has given to PewDiePie, that has been able to withstand the power of even YouTube itself.

Kjellberg’s channel has been under heavy criticism for almost as long as he’s been the most subscribed channel, being constantly surveyed by mainstream media for almost any joke that he makes. While some of his jokes have gone too far or didn’t play out the way he wanted them to, as is the case with many other comedians, he has apologized and spoken about how those jokes don’t reflect him as a person. He also has the added challenge of his actions being labeled as the collective actions of the YouTube community, which simply isn’t true, as YouTube is a very diverse place where anyone anywhere can speak their mind.

These challenges have only made the fight that Kjellberg and his fans have put up against T-Series all the more astonishing. Since July 2018, he has gained a total of 25 million subscribers, a new record for the platform.

A large amount of YouTubers have come together to support Kjellberg as well. People like Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson, Mark “Markiplier” Fischbach, Sean “Jacksepticeye” McLoughlin and even tech billionaire Elon Musk have stepped up and supported Kjellberg, helping him gain hundreds of thousands of subscribers over the past few months.

The reasons for the community rallying around PewDiePie can be traced back to the early days of his channel. Kjellberg has never been a big budget YouTuber, and the environment he has created in which he is aware that he is just a normal guy at his core has built up a level of intimacy with his viewers that, in the early 2010s, wasn’t really present in the short sketch and movie review heavy halls of YouTube.

PewDiePie has also been a great way for independent game creators and small channels to be showcased to a big audience. Hit horror series Five Nights at Freddy’s was in part popularized by Kjellberg, and channels that are big now but were practically unknown a few years ago, like Jacksepticeye, were given shoutouts by Kjellberg, allowing other great channels to get the recognition they deserve.

Along with putting other creators in the spotlight, Kjellberg has consistently raised thousands of dollars each year for charity over the course of his channel. In 2016, his holiday campaign “Cringemas” to raise money for RED, a charity devoted to fighting against AIDS, raised $1.3 million. Recently, Kjellberg raised £150,000 British pounds on a livestream for Indian charity ‘Child Rights and You’.

Photo Courtesy T-Series/ Wikimedia Commons
Indian Youtube channel T-Series sits as the second most subscribed channel on Youtube with 94 million subscribers as of April 18. The platform posts popular Bollywood music and movie clips.

During the stream, racist comments about the Indian population popped up on Kjellberg’s feed, which he promptly shut down and talked about how these things shouldn’t happen. “Sometimes in these comments, you see… just really distasteful, unnecessary comments,” Kjellberg says. “And I obviously make Indian jokes and stuff like that, but I do that of all countries, and this is not what I’m about.”

Kjellberg has also spoken out about what happened during the shooting at a mosque in New Zealand on March 15, 2019, in which the attacker yelled, “Subscribe to PewDiePie” during the event. Kjellberg in no way condones anything that this person did or said, saying that he said he felt “absolutely sickened having my name uttered by this person” and he expressed condolences for everyone affected, showing respect by not posting a video the day of the attack.

PewDiePie has made it clear that, even if he is locked in an internet war with an Indian company, he has nothing against the country and people shouldn’t take it too seriously.

There will be repercussions, however, if T-Series does permanently pass PewDiePie in number of subscribers. The feel of independence and the idea that anyone can make good content on YouTube could disappear, replaced with the notion that only big corporations can be the way to get recognized on the platform.

This idea of being anybody on YouTube has been waning for a while. Celebrities like Will Smith and Jack Black have gained millions of subscribers due to their status, with Black’s channel “Jablinski Games” setting a new record in fastest growth, gaining 3 million subscribers in one week. While the celebrities aren’t truly corporately owned, there is an element of using their channels to promote their new movies like Aladdin and Jumanji 2.

The passing of PewDiePie might not be as bad if the ways that T-Series uses to grow weren’t so sketchy. Proof has surfaced that T-Series has used bots to increase their subscriber count, with the channel at one point gaining 9,000 subscribers in the span of one second. There have also been accusations that Google will automatically subscribe an Indian YouTube account to T-Series once created. While these are just assumptions, YouTube does vastly more promotion for T-Series’s content than Kjellberg’s, with his video “YouTube Rewind but it’s actually good” recently becoming the most liked non-music video on the platform, but never making it on the trending page, despite it’s 55 million views and 7.5 million likes.

The internet battle between the two channels is ignored by many people, which is understandable, as it doesn’t directly affect most people, but it should be noticed, as YouTube is a large part of modern culture.

As for whose side people should be on, it’s really up to the individual. Reasons to subscribe to PewDiePie have been given, but if a person really does feel that T-Series deserves a subscriber, they are free to do so. But in terms of the average viewer, PewDiePie is much easier to identify with and is a great representation of the content that a small team can create without a corporate figurehead looming over them.