The battle to be the “most-followed” channel on YouTube is getting serious.
PewDiePie, currently with the most number of subscribers, is fighting to stave off competition from its nearest rival, an Indian music-recording and movie-production company, T-Series.
Such is the excitement around the two going head-to-head that now there’s even a live countdown of the race started by Vidooly, a Noida-based video analytics firm.
“It will take some time. Every day when T-Series catches up to PewDiePie, PewDiePie makes up for the difference by the next morning,” said Subrat Kar, CEO of Vidooly. “But definitely T-Series will topple him. Music as a category is growing very aggressively in India.”
For five years, the Swedish video-game commentator Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg has wooed YouTube fans, first with his “Let’s Play” commentaries and now with his comedy and vlogs, taking his channel’s user base to over 72.25 million as of today (Nov. 28).
However, the massive popularity of Bollywood movies and songs has enabled T-Series, which mostly posts trailers and music videos, to narrow its gap with PewDiePie to less than 275,000 subscribers since its channel was launched in 2006.
Overall, the top YouTube channels are categories but PewDiePie is the most popular among individuals or companies, according to Vidooly.
T-Series has benefited in a big way from India’s internet boom, fuelled by two factors—the influx of affordable Chinese smartphones and dirt-cheap data rates, driven by the launch of Mukesh Ambani-led telecom firm, Reliance Jio.
However, Kjellberg is in no mood to give up easily. In August, he produced a video to exhort his supporters to fight back—and they did.
Kjellberg’s fans left negative comments and down-voted videos on T-Series’s channel. In another video from Oct. 21, Kjellberg said he “genuinely” doesn’t really care about his rival’s gains but worries that YouTubers will be influenced by businesses and creators will compromise on authenticity if large corporations start winning.
In a last ditch-effort, American vlogger Jamie Donaldson, aka “Mr. Beast,” said “PewDiePie” 100,000 times on a 12-hour livestream. The superfan, who has 10 million followers of his own, has also bought billboards in his hometown, done local radio shows, put up flyers, bought banners ads and TV ads, and more, to campaign for PewDiePie to maintain his lead.
Looking for more in-depth coverage from Quartz? Become a member to read our premium content and master your understanding of the global economy.