Pewdiepie is not someone who produces content that I enjoy – in fact I can’t stand his strangely humourless attempts at comedy – and I also have my doubts about him as a person, but I’ll keep that to myself for now. Recently his spot at the very top of Youtube’s most subscribed list has come under threat by an Indian upstart: T-Series. As of this writing, they have nearly 69 million subs, and Pewdiepie has slightly over 69 million.
Pewdiepie has a lot of money these days, so he’s been able to carry out a big stunt where he advertised on billboards / on TV / in public bathrooms for more subscriptions to fend off T-Series for as long as possible. While he no doubt has some big management behind him and people presumably working for him in some regard, his channel is still based around him, a single person. And of course, he began completely on his own, screaming incoherently over recordings of video games. Despite his immense success he is still, more or less, an independent Youtuber.
T-Series was formed as a company in 1983, selling pirated Bollywood music on cassette. The following year they went legit with the OST for a movie called Lallu Ram. Over the rest of the decade they slowly grew until 1990, when they released what was their commercial breakthrough, the OST to a film called Aashiqui. Not only have they since become one of India’s biggest music labels, their ties to Bollywood also led them to move into film production, and as a side effect of that, the production of music videos.
T-Series are a slick, professional, corporate entity. They have countless talented people dedicated to pumping out films and music, with lots and lots of money behind them and access to all kinds of film making resources. They are not a sole person who are inevitably going to suffer burnout and depression, they are a huge company worth a lot of money. And this is why T-Series’s success is not really as special as anyone else’s on the biggest video platform on the web, and also why Pewdiepie is just embarrassing himself (again).
This whole affair is being framed as “India Vs The World”, because it wouldn’t be 2018 without people bringing unnecessary weird racial stuff into whatever they feel like arguing over. It’s not that at all. This is actually Huge Boring Media Organisation Vs Popular Twat. If this were a case of a single teenager in Delhi being about to reach 69 million subs, then that would be interesting. But at the end of the day, T-Series are basically Indian Vevo. It’s not really the same.