YouTube's on-again off-again relationship with its biggest individual creator, PewDiePie, is back on. PewDiePie -- whose real name is Felix Kjellberg -- agreed to live stream exclusively on YouTube, the company said Monday. Kjellberg's YouTube channel has 104 million susbcribers, making it the biggest individually operated channel on Google's massive video service.
Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
"YouTube has been my home for over a decade now and live streaming on the platform feels like a natural fit as I continue to look for new ways to create content and interact with fans worldwide," Kjellberg said in a statement. "Live streaming is something I'm focusing a lot on in 2020 and beyond, so to be able to partner with YouTube and be at the forefront of new product features is special and exciting for the future."
It comes three years after YouTube's most significant rift with PewDiePie. In 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported PewDiePie videos containing jokes with racist or anti-Semitic overtones, which also ran against advertising for major companies. The story triggered an advertiser backlash. Not only did marketers withdraw from PewDiePie's channel, but they also pulled giant ad budgets off YouTube overall until the service cleaned up its advertising system to keep brands more "safe."
YouTube cut off PewDiePie's ability to run ads on his channel, a crucial way to make money, and other companies like Disney cut ties with him. (YouTube has since restored his channel's status to run ads.) But, more broadly for YouTube creators, it was the spark of the so-called "," when tighter advertising standards led to complaints from creators that their channels were being unfairly demonetized.
"I couldn't be more thrilled to continue to grow our roster of creators who are making our platform their exclusive live streaming home to bring fans around the world even more of what they love," said Ryan Wyatt, YouTube's head of gaming, said in a statement.
Some of the biggest gaming stars have built their followings at least partly by popular live streams of their gameplay on sites like YouTube, Amazon's Twitch or others. But live streaming has been a relatively small factor in PewDiePie's popularity. PewDiePie first rose to prominence with so-called "let's play" gaming videos you watch on demand, and he's expanded to other kinds of content like meme reviews and satirical music videos. But live streams have never been a cornerstone to PewDiePie's popularity like it has been for other gaming stars like Tyler "Ninja" Blevins.
Last year, PewDiePie's YouTube channel became the first belonging to an individual creator to surpass 100 million subscribers. It was a milestone crossed during a months-long horse race against Indian music-video and trailer channel T-Series, which overtook PewDiePie as YouTube's biggest channel.