Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg half-heartedly wants his “army of 9-year-olds” to stop a group called T-Series from becoming the biggest channel on YouTube.
T-Series is the second most popular channel on YouTube. It boasts just under 60 million subscribers, and is gaining approximately 150,000 subscribers per day on average. T-Series isn’t an individual creator; it’s a Bollywood production company based in India. The company launched in the 1980s, and struggled for a bit before becoming one of the biggest Bollywood production companies in the world — and now the most popular brand on YouTube. It’s YouTube videos are high-quality, impressive Bollywood music videos, from some of the country’s biggest musicians, artists and directors.
Now, according to Social Blade analysts, T-Series will overtake PewDiePie as the most subscribed to channel (not counting YouTube Music, YouTube Sports, YouTube Gaming and YouTube Movies) in less than six months. Social Blade’s formula estimates that PewDiePie will hit 70.9 million subscribers in six months; T-Series will boast 85.4 million.
There are a number of reasons for T-Series’ remarkable growth, but location is key. India is home to more than 1.3 billion people. That’s more than the entire North American continental population, which currently sits at approximately 580 million people. There are also very few channels in the West creating high-quality Bollywood content. Type “Bollywood” into YouTube’s search bar, and T-Series dominates the list of recommended videos suggested.
YouTube has 225 million monthly users in India, with 80 percent of the country’s internet population logging on to YouTube each month. People looking for Bollywood videos, or music videos from their favorite Indian artists, can find everything they’re looking for on T-Series’ channel. It’s not just Indian YouTube users that T-Series serves, but it gives the channel a huge advantage as they serve Bollywood content to audiences around the globe.
This is, ironically, what helped Kjellberg become the “King of YouTube” in July 2013, as Game Theorist Matt Patrick explained in a video. Kjellberg managed to reach audiences in countries like Sweden, Italy, France and the U.K., for example, while also building up a fan base in the United States. This gave him an advantage over creators in the United States or Canada, who primarily served audiences in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Kjellberg’s audience isn’t growing as quickly as it once did. Kjellberg gains approximately 30,000 subscribers a day. While impressive, it’s nothing compared to T-Series, which is growing at approximately 150,000 subscribers a day. T-Series already holds the record for most views on a channel — boasting more than 46 billion total views — making its subscriber growth understandable.
It’s not an entirely fair comparison, of course. Kjellberg is one person. He can’t upload six or seven videos a day, as T-Series did just yesterday. It’s like comparing Drake to all of Spotify, or Michael Jackson to all of MTV back in the day. T-Series is practically a digital network; Kjellberg is a controversial creator who captures his audience’s bydiscussing current events (as a character named Poppy Harlow), reviewing memes and reacting to things on Reddit. T-Series posts elaborate, beautiful music videos and interviews with popular artists.
T-Series joined YouTube in March 2006. Kjellberg joined in April 2010. T-Series has published 12,600 videos; Kjellberg has posted 3,600.
He’s still the biggest independent, sole creator.
Kjellberg is looking to fight back ... kind of. In a new video posted on Wednesday, the YouTuber beckons his army of 9-year-olds — a term often used to describe Kjellberg’s immature fans, which he has since used in a more admiring tone — to help keep him on top. He also, seemingly sarcastically, said the only thing left to do was build up his audience base in India. It’s important to note that Kjellberg has said in the past that he’s learned not to care about subscriber or view counts as much, as that anxiety and pressure worsens mental health issues and burnout.
Kjellberg won’t ignore the momentous change. He recently celebrated five years of being the most subscribed channel on YouTube, having first achieved the milestone in August 2013.
“The only way I can stay relevant is to get the Indians subscribing to me,” Kjellberg said in the video. “If they won’t accept my sword challenge, then the only thing we can do is fight fire with fire. Smash subscribe.”
Later in the video, he jokes about the number if 9-year-olds who haven’t subscribed yet, adding that they all need to subscribe so he can beat T-Series.
“I’m an Indian, and this is on trending here, don’t worry Pewds we got you,” the top comment on his video reads.
There’s no question that T-Series, after more than a decade on YouTube, is about to become the most subscribed channel. It’s just a matter of whether that happens in the next few months, or the beginning of 2019.
If you’re looking for a more in-depth look at T-Series’ growth, check out Coffee Break’s fantastic video on the subject.