PewDiePie dethroned by T-Series as YouTube's most subscribed channel

The Indian music label assumed the video streaming throne for a third time, before dropping back to second place.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Jackson Ryan Former Science Editor
Jackson Ryan was CNET's science editor, and a multiple award-winning one at that. Earlier, he'd been a scientist, but he realized he wasn't very happy sitting at a lab bench all day. Science writing, he realized, was the best job in the world -- it let him tell stories about space, the planet, climate change and the people working at the frontiers of human knowledge. He also owns a lot of ugly Christmas sweaters.
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3 min read

For a brief few moments,  YouTube had a new top dog. PewDiePie was replaced as the YouTube channel with the most subscribers by Indian music channel T-Series on Monday.

YouTuber PewDiePie, also known as Felix Kjellberg, has held YouTube's record for most subscribers since December 2013 when his subscriber numbers sat at around 18 million. That number has skyrocketed to almost 89 million fans, despite numerous controversies over the past two years. In recent years T-Series, a channel created by the Indian music label of the same name, began to threaten that lead

In 2017, though PewDiePie remained the most subscribed channel, T-Series nabbed the title of most-viewed channel, with over 63 billion views across more than 100,000 videos. PewDiePie's video views are much lower, sitting at around 20 billion.

T-Series is an Indian record label and film production company posting Bollywood music videos and film trailers. The company's main channel took the No. 1 spot early Monday, before PewDiePie's subscriber numbers rocketed the content creator back to top spot.

Watch this: PewDiePie's battle for YouTube supremacy continues

PewDiePie has been in this hole before -- albeit for mere minutes. T-Series first overtook PewDiePie on Feb. 22, after YouTube purged thousands of accounts. At the time PewDiePie's numbers plummeted, allowing T-Series to sneak in and claim the record for around eight minutes. The record was also snatched on March 9, before being overrun by PewDiePie minutes later.

It's likely that we will see the record flip-flop in a never-ending back-and-forth until the heat death of the universe but in recent months, the battle has become less about the record itself and more about the real-world hacks and various big names that have joined the so-called battle.

PewDiePie and other YouTubers attempted to attract new subscribers and stoke the online beef with diss tracks, stunts and even hacking printers and smart cameras. Over and over again, PewDiePie has managed to hold on with last-second efforts. In February, PewDiePie even had Elon Musk and Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland lend a helping hand by hosting one of his recurring video segments "Meme Review".

Those efforts have helped PewDiePie stave off challenge after challenge but it seems nothing will stop the T-Series juggernaut from overtaking the prolific creator, for good, in the future.

Some, including Kjellberg himself, see this as a battle for the soul of YouTube, and, perhaps, the online space: PewDiePie is now a multimillion-dollar business but is still essentially a gamer goofing around, while T-Series is a corporation promoting its content.

Though PewDiePie has reclaimed his record and currently sits on top once again, recent actions -- like the call to arms from T-Series director Bhushan Kumar or even the pro-Brexit British party, UKIP, calling for "patriots" to subscribe to PewDiePie -- demonstrate that the battle has outgrown its online beginnings and begun to segue into more nationalistic territory. Couple that with PewDiePie fans defacing of a World War II memorial in New York in early March and the overwhelming feeling is that, while the battle rages on, it may be time for the rest of us to log off.

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