This is why T-Series is losing out to PewDiePie

The gap between the two channels is now at 1.3mn subscribers & PewDiePie is expected to hold the title of the most-subscribed channel until 2023

e4m by Venkata Susmita Biswas
Updated: Dec 17, 2018 8:44 AM

On November 30 a person going by the alias TheHackerGiraffe hacked around 50,000 interconnected printers to spew printouts seeking help for YouTuber PewDiePie. The printouts told people to subscribe to PewDiePie’s YouTube channel and unsubscribe to the Indian music label company T-Series.

In October, Jimmy ‘Mr Beast’ Donaldson bought space on every billboard in his town to promote the Youtube star. Donaldson also made appearances in the local media, distributed flyers and ran ads on the internet, radio and TV rallying for PewDiePie. This was all meant to boost the subscriber count of the Swedish YouTuber Felix Kjellberg who was very close to losing his title to T-Series as the most subscribed YouTube channel. 

Kjellberg’s call to action to all his fans has now tipped the balance in his favour and T-Series may never again come this close to becoming the most subscribed channel on YouTube. 

PewDiePie, a gaming commentary channel, became the most subscribed YouTube channel in 2013 and has held on to that title for the last five years. T-Series with a subscriber base of 75.7 million emerged as a serious threat to PewDiePie (77 million subscribers) in late August. 

PewDiePie addressed this threat in a video titled “THIS CHANNEL WILL OVERTAKE PEWDIEPIE!” on August 29 and called upon his community to “smash subscribe” and preserve his channel’s number one spot. He regularly created videos about the race, at one point even suggesting that T-Series was boosting its subscriber base by automatically getting users registered in India to subscribe to its own channel. The fan campaign was healthy and in the right spirit for the most part till the battle cry turned racist and hateful towards India and Indians. PewDiePie then addressed the issue through a video on his channel, saying he would prefer to use his platform to fight back hateful commenters. He also launched a crowd-funding campaign for Indian NGO—Child Rights and You—and raised £179,207 in 10 days, exceeding his goal of £150,000.    

Back then the gap between the two channels was around 3 million subscribers and projections showed that by late October T-Series would have dethroned PewDiePie. Around October 26 the gap between the two had narrowed to a few lakh subscribers. 

The fierce campaigning by fans and PewDiePie’s videos that kept the topic alive all these months has staved off the dethroning. The gap between the two channels is now at 1.3 million subscribers and as projected by social media analytics website Social Blade is expected to grow wider in 2019, allowing PewDiePie to undoubtedly hold the title of the most-subscribed channel until 2023. 

Even though the gap is widening, experts believe T-Series will continue to have a healthy organic growth. The music label has been adding an average of 1,73,979 subscribers daily whereas PewDiePie gets 2,09,143 subscribers in its kitty on an average daily. 

The lack of a loyal fan base has hurt T-Series’ chances of becoming the most-subscribed YouTube channel. “Had T-Series promoted and marketed itself better among Indian users it could have become No.1,” said Subrat Kar, CEO and co-founder of Vidooly, a video intelligence platform for content creators. 

By 2020, the total number of users consuming online video in India is expected to reach 500 million. Video is already the most consumed media online with the average smartphone user consuming around 11GB of data every day as per the Nokia MbIT 2018 report. 

Currently, YouTube has reached as much as 80% of India’s internet population.  As per Google India’s estimates, YouTube has 245 million MAUs (monthly active users) in India. “Having an Indian content channel become the top subscribed channel would have validated India’s position in the online video market,” Kar added. 

PewDiePie had wondered how an Indian music label channel could possibly give him competition. “It’s an Indian channel with 46 million views. How many people live in India? How is this possible,” a shocked Kjellberg had said on August 29 in the video where he declared war on T-Series. He then in a moment of realisation said, “The only way I can stay relevant is to get the Indians subscribing to me.” 

T-Series has been surprisingly silent about this race while its competitor has been contemplating tapping the Indian video consumer base to build his subscriber count. “T-Series can still call upon its Indian fans to grow its subscriber base,” Kar said. 

T-Series gets 8.34 crore daily views on an average compared to PewDiePie’s daily average of 1.3 crore. According to Social Blade, T-Series’ YouTube earnings could be in the range of Rs 14.4 lakh to Rs 2.4 crore per day (the upper limit being Rs 72 crore per month), while PewDiePie’s earnings range between Rs 2.4 lakh and Rs 37.5 lakh (a maximum of Rs 11.2 crore per month). "One reason why T-Series is not flustered by PewDiePie is because irrespective of the number of subscribers, it earns a very healthy sum of money from advertising on YouTube," said a digital media buyer who did not wish to be named. 

The race between T-Series and PewDiePie has once again demonstrated that in addition to good content engaging with the subscribers and fans with a human touch is crucial to building an online presence. “People on YouTube prefer subscribing to individuals rather than companies. This is because a personality has an interesting dynamic. If a company like T-Series can lend a personality to the channel, it may see more success,” said Pranay Swarup, CEO ChtrBox, an influencer marketing company that works with YouTubers and content creators. 

T-Series may have lost this battle but given the rate at which Indians are coming online to consume video content T-Series or some other Indian YouTube channel will soon give stiff competition and may even overthrow PewDiePie. 

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