The world's most popular YouTube channel has changed hands for the first time in more than five years, after PewDiePie was dethroned by the Indian channel T-Series. But the long-anticipated takeover only lasted a few minutes.
T-Series' YouTube subscriber count briefly passed that of PewDiePie over the weekend, but help from billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk caused a return to the status quo.
Fans of PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, made attempts in recent weeks to keep the YouTuber as the most-subscribed-to channel, calling on Musk to host a popular segment on his channel called Meme Review.
"Elon Musk came down from the sky and hosted Meme Review," Kjellberg said in a video on Sunday. "PewDiePie is rightfully at number one again."
The campaign by PewDiePie supporters has provided a significant boost to Kjellberg's channel, with web analysts originally predicting that the takeover would take place as long ago as October.Statistics from social media analytics firm SocialBlade revealed that the recent T-Series takeover lasted just eight minutes.
The Bollywood record label has experienced massive growth in 2018 and early 2019, adding roughly a million new subscribers per week, prompting PewDiePie fans to pull stunts like hacking websites and taking part in guerilla advertising campaigns to promote his channel.
The sub-count rivalry between the two channels has proved controversial among some YouTube users, who see it as an indication of the video-sharing platform's increasing commercialisation in recent years.
"The more I thought about it, I began to realise that PewDiePie getting surpassed by T-Series is a really fitting situation for the current state of YouTube," said popular YouTuber EmpLemon, in a video explaining the end of PewDiePie's reign.
"Because the era of YouTube that PewDiePie represents simply does not exist anymore. The fact he has even managed to stay on top for as long as he has is somewhat of a miracle."
T-Series describes itself on its YouTube channel as India's largest music label and movie studio, which "believes in bringing world close together through its music [sic]".
"It’s incredible to see how media companies like T-Series are flourishing in this space. Whilst YouTube continues to be a pivotal platform for influencers like PewDiePie, media companies have really doubled down on the platform this year," Denis Crushell from social video analytics firm Tubular Labs recently told The Independent.
"T-Series and its sister channels now see well over 4 billion views per month, making it YouTube’s most viewed media company globally."
T-Series' remarkable growth can also be attributed to India's own digital growth, which now counts around 460 million internet users in the country, according to Statista.
In the run up to the takeover, PewDiePie made joke diss tracks against T-Series and called upon his subscribers to help him retain the top spot, however he also said he did not care about no longer being the most prominent YouTuber.
"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'," he said in a video posted to his channel in October.
"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."
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