A war on the web is brewing for YouTube supremacy, as PewDiePie battles to keep his place as the most subscribed channel against Indian music and movie label T-Series.
The popular YouTuber has more than 79.6 million subscribers, but T-Series is gradually moving in with 78.7 million subscribers, leading fans of PewDiePie to take some drastic steps to help the 29-year-old Swede maintain his place at the top.
What has happened so far?
In August, PewDiePie released a video titled, “This channel will overtake PewDiePie!”.
“Another YouTube channel is taking over,” he said. “We must fight back.”
PewDiePie also released a mock rap video, hitting out at T-Series and laughing at their videos for not reaching a million hits.
A number of other prominent YouTubers and fans have rallied behind PewDiePie, with some hacking printers urging people to subscribe to his channel and others taking control of Google Chromecast smart TV devices around the world.
Hackers known as HackerGiraffe and j3ws3r claimed to have gained access to more than 70,000 Google Chromecast devices, by exploiting an internet router setting that makes connected devices such as Chromecasts publicly viewable on the internet. They say the main aim of the stunt was to raise awareness of cyber security but it also promoted PewDiePie.
Others have launched a petition for T-Series’s removal from YouTube, likening the situation to David and Goliath.
What is T-Series?
T-Series is one of India’s largest music record labels, founded in July 1983. It is widely known for making Bollywood music soundtracks.
The company’s YouTube channel is run by a team of 13, featuring music videos and some trailers. With such a large team, it uploads several videos a day, compared to PewDiePie who posts one a day.
What does T-Series make of it all?
T-Series has largely dismissed the apparent competition, with the company’s managing director revealing to the BBC that he had not even heard of PewDiePie until a couple of months ago.
“I am really not bothered about this race. I don’t even know why PewDiePie is taking this so seriously,” Bhushan Kumar said.
“He’s getting his people to push him, promote him. We are not competing with him.
“I have not told my artists to put up supportive messages to boost our followers on our channel. We are not in that game.”
However, in September 2018, T-Series president Neeraj Kalyan had stronger words against the YouTuber’s fans, according to newspaper DNA India.
“It’s a matter of pride for all Indians that an Indian YouTube Channel will soon be world’s biggest channel on YouTube,” she said.
“But it seems a set of overzealous PewDiePie fans are negatively spamming T-Series channel on YouTube. I would like to inform them that we are not perturbed by this kind of behaviour.”