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Since October 2018, YouTube drama and news has been dominated by the online competition between YouTubers PewDiePie and T-Series to see which channel would become the most subscribed to channel on the platform. Today, T-Series reigns supreme. But, how did the channel do it? This is PewDiePie vs. T-Series.
Felix Kjellberg, otherwise known as PewDiePie online, is a Swedish YouTuber who specializes in comedy and video commentary. He originally registered his YouTube account under “Pewdie” in 2006 but registered “PewDiePie” on April 29, 2010, after he forgot the password to his first account. Previously, he was known for his Let’s Play videos, in which he would document his playthrough of various video games while including funny commentary. Most notably, he was popular for his commentary while playing horror and action video games. Starting in September 2011, Kjellberg began posting weekly vlogs called Fridays with PewDiePie.
Between December 2011 and May 2012, PewDiePie’s channel skyrocketed from 60,000 to 500,000 subscribers as he grew in popularity. In July 2012, his channel reached 1 million subscribers. By August 2013, PewDiePie’s subscriber count surpassed the leading channel, Smosh, and he was awarded the Guinness World Record for becoming the most subscribed YouTuber.
Throughout 2012 and 2013, PewDiePie’s channel was one of the fastest-growing channels on YouTube in terms of his subscriber count. In 2013, PewDiePie’s channel started out with 3.5 million subscribers and then jumped to 19 million by the end of the year. By the end of 2013, PewDiePie’s channel was gaining a new subscriber every second. His channel gained more subscribers than any other channel in 2013 at a faster rate than any channel on YouTube. In the latter half of 2013, his channel received 1.3 billion views.
T-Series is an Indian music record label and film production company run by Bhushan Kumar. T-Series joined YouTube on March 13, 2006, but only started to upload video content in late 2010. By July 2013, the channel had surpassed 1 billion views. On the platform, T-Series has a multi-channel network consisting of 29 channels run by a team of 13 people. In terms of video content, the channel focuses on Indian music videos and Bollywood film trailers. T-Series uploads several videos every day and has uploaded 13,995 videos as of November 2019. The channel’s content is primarily in Hindi and various Indian languages/dialects, but occasionally features several other languages including:
The growth of T-Series’ account has been attributed to the booming online population in India. Currently, India has over 500 million Internet users, and the number is projected to continue to grow rapidly. YouTube alone has over 225 million monthly users logging in from India. Over the years, India has emerged as the world’s second-largest online population, right after China, where YouTube is blocked. India’s high demand for YouTube content, especially coming from local, Indian content creators has contributed a large amount to T-Series’ success. Outside of India, T-Series also has a growing audience from overseas in the United States and other South Asian countries.
Date Subscriber Count
November 2017 28.7M
February 2018 36.8M
August 2018 58.6M
December 2018 78M
March 2019 92.1M
October 2019 113M
November 2019 117M
Competition Between the Channels: PewDiePie vs. T-Series
PewDiePie’s channel had the most subscribers in 2013, and he was on track to become the first YouTuber with 100 million subscribers. T-Series became the most-viewed channel on YouTube in February 2017 with over 85 billion views. With a projection to overtake PewDiePie’s subscriber count in October 2018, T-Series was hit with a diss track from Kjellberg. The track, entitled “B**** Lasagna,” includes culturally insensitive remarks from Kjellberg against the Indian population. Kjellberg also made allegations against T-Series, claiming the channel used subscriber bots. The perceived anti-Indian remarks caused several prominent Indian YouTubers to speak up publicly against PewDiePie. While PewDiePie claimed he was not concerned about the channel, he spoke up against their corporate channel, claiming that it would have negative effects on YouTube as a video-sharing platform for individual creators.
In the midst of the competition, T-Series made it clear that becoming the first YouTube channel to hit 100 subscribers and maintaining the highest subscriber count would be a historic moment for India. This caused PewDiePie’s fans to claim T-Series’ creator Kumar was using nationalist rhetoric to boost his subscribers when the race shouldn’t be between an independent creator and a corporation. Thus, the battle became more about creators versus corporations.
PewDiePie’s problematic and controversial presence on the platform did not do him any favors in the race either. He has been accused of:
- making anti-Semitic jokes since 2017
- associating with white supremacist rhetoric
- making racist remarks during a livestream
- being sexist towards female streamers on Twitch and to fellow YouTuber Lilly Singh
Since apologizing for all of these scandals, Kjellberg used his platform and money from YouTube for philanthropic efforts. In response to being anti-India, Kjellberg initiated a fundraiser for CRY India.
Many of PewDiePie’s fans made efforts to gain subscribers for his channel through organized marches and creating their own YouTube videos in support of Kjellberg. His supporters often used the slogan “Subscribe to PewDiePie” to back their efforts. However, some of his supporters’ efforts went beyond these methods, as some supporters hacked websites and social media accounts, engaged in vandalism and created malware in order to get people to subscribe.
T-Series overtook PewDiePie in subscriber count on numerous occasions in 2019, and in March 2019, it became the most subscribed channel for five days until PewDiePie retook the lead. After two weeks, in April 2019, PewDiePie uploaded a video to ask his supporters to end their efforts in keeping him in the lead, as T-Series was quickly gaining traction. On May 29, 2019, T-Series permanently passed PewDiePie by reaching 100 million subscribers first.
Going forward, T-Series is expected to maintain its lead over PewDiePie, as the channel has 15 million more subscribers as of November 2019. The average subscriber growth rate of T-Series per day is around 130,000 whereas PewDiePie only gains around 25,000 per day, according to Subrat Kar, the CEO of video analytics from Vidooly.
From T-Series’ success, all YouTube users should keep an eye on Indian YouTube channels and the content creators from South Asia. The current success and growth of Indian channels reflect the growing online population that will soon takeover online entertainment.