The title for the world's most popular YouTube channel is about to change hands, with T-Series ready to claim the top spot that has been held by PewDiePie since 2013.
On Wednesday, 24 October, T-Series passed 67 million subscribers on YouTube – roughly the size of the UK population. PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, hit that milestone earlier this month but is only a few hundred thousand subscribers ahead of his rival.
The T-Series takeover has proved controversial among some YouTubers, given that it is a major corporate brand that will hold the vaunted honour of being the platform's most popular channel.
PewDiePie built his online following through video game commentary videos and comedic vlogs, which saw him become the most-subscribed user on YouTube in 2013.
T-Series, in contrast, is a major Indian record label and film production company that amassed its millions of followers by posting music videos and film trailers.
T-Series actually first began a YouTube channel in 2006, four years before PewDiePie, but its initial growth was stifled by India's relatively small online population.
"It’s incredible to see how media companies like T-Series are flourishing in this space," said a spokesperson for Tubular Labs, a video analytics platform that has been measuring the rise of T-Series' channel over the last couple of months.
"Whilst YouTube continues to be a pivotal platform for influencers like PewDiePie, media companies have really doubled down on the platform this year. T-Series and its sister channels now see well over 4 billion views per month, making it YouTube’s most viewed media company globally."
Data from Tubular Labs shows T-Series growth to be rapidly outpacing that of PewDiePie, with the Indian channel averaging 120,000 new followers in October compared to PewDiePie's 27,000. The firm estimates that T-Series will officially overtake PewDiePie on Monday, 29 Octobe.
In a recent Q&A session on his YouTube channel, PewDiePie answered questions from his fans about his time as a YouTube star, as well as his plans for the future.
When asked where he saw himself in 10 years, he replied: "Hopefully I'm in Japan. Other than that, I don't know."
Another question asked: "Do you think you'll be doing youtube your whole life?"
PewDiePie responded: "How would I know, do you think you will do anything your whole life? Stop asking me this deep question."
He continued: "I remember six years ago, I thought 'OK, maybe if I'm lucky I can do another year, or maybe two years of YouTube. The lifespan of a YouTuber a few years ago was so quick. Most other YouTubers, they're not making videos anymore, that's just the case.
"I was constantly following the path of other YouTubers before I was where I am today. But now I've kind of had to set my own path and it's being going well so far, I'm happy that I'm still able to make videos."
Later on in the video, PewDiePie was asked a question relating to T-Series and the perceived shift neglect on YouTube's part of so-called indie YouTubers, in favour of supporting corporate channels.
"What are your serious opinions on T Series?" One person asked on Twitter. "Do you think it's unfair that a corporation like T Series is surpassing you, as an indie YouTuber? Does it make you feel bad?"
PewDiePie replied: "It's already a heated subject now that a company is taking over. Everyone is going on the rant, 'YouTube is not really becoming YouTube' and, 'it's never going to be the same now'.
"I don't really care about T-Series, I genuinely don't, but I think if YouTube does shift in a way where it does feel more corporate, [then] something else will take its place. I think people enjoy this connection so much, I think something else will just show up, if it feels too corporate.
"I think what bother me more than things becoming too corporate is YouTubers shilling corporates, if that makes sense. YouTubers just buying into this image that companies want them to be for the sake of being lifted up by them. I mean it's a great business move, and I totally understand why anyone would do it, but to me it's inauthentic."
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