×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

PewDiePie: No. 1 in #Famechangers Digital Star Ranking

Variety ranked the top 12 stars in the digital world as part of its #Famechangers issue. For more of the rankings, click here.

Every time Felix Kjellberg sinks into his leather swivel chair and puts on headphones to play videogames, he’s joined by friends. Tens of millions of them.

The 25-year-old Swede is known to the YouTube world as PewDiePie, a handsome, high-energy gamer who uploads Let’s Play videos that show him playing as he offers raucous, expletive-filled commentary. The genre has nearly 500 million viewers worldwide, according to research firm SuperData.

Jeff Minton for Variety

 
“YouTube breaks the barrier between the audience and the creator,” Kjellberg explains, in assessing the reason why he’s so popular. “They feel a connection to the one they’re watching. It’s almost like you’re hanging out.”

Indeed, on-camera, PewDiePie acts like he’s spending time with a friend. He begins each video introducing himself in a high-pitched, goofy voice, drawing out the vowels of his YouTube moniker, then delves into the videos, everything from reviewing the popular smartphone game “Flappy Bird” to testing out “Minecraft” to playing “Cards Against Humanity” with his dogs.

Kjellberg may act like the silly friend next door, but his reach is global; he gets recognized halfway around the world. “I remember the first time it really shocked me was in Singapore, where there were hundreds of people waiting in the lobby because I had tweeted a picture of me being at the hotel,” Kjellberg says. “It really caught me off guard.”

He still knows how to cause a stir. In December, he had a voice cameo as himself in an episode of “South Park” (“#Rehash”) that satirized the popularity of Let’s Play videos. And when it was revealed earlier this month that he made $7.4 million in 2014, the ensuing uproar prompted him to upload a video defending himself.

Jeff Minton for Variety

 
Any way you look at it, that’s not a bad payday for someone who dropped out of college five years ago, and sold hot dogs to try to earn enough money to buy a computer. Not losing sight of where he began, he tries to help aspiring YouTubers, giving shout-outs in his videos to bump their traffic.

And PewDiePie’s influence is expanding beyond YouTube. His volume “This Book Loves You,” will be released Oct. 20. The work features comical advice, such as, “Don’t be yourself. Be a pizza. Everyone loves pizza.”

For PewDiePie, it’s all about creating amusing content. “My purpose is to entertain,” Kjellberg says. “I go all out in the time that I have.”

PewDiePie by the numbers

(Click here for large preview.)


*Data provided by Tubular Labs

Top videos:

Most watched:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRyPjRrjS34

Total views: 67.4 million

Most commented:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXzpw0J5ZgI

Total comments: 327k

Most recent:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejTbigS7C2U

Total views: 1.9 million

More Digital

  • Lauren Dolgen Is Out BuzzFeed Studios

    Lauren Dolgen Is Out as BuzzFeed Studios Boss After a Year

    Veteran TV producer Lauren Dolgen has exited as head of BuzzFeed Studios after one year in the job. BuzzFeed had hired Dolgen, a longtime MTV producer who worked on shows including “Teen Mom” and “16 and Pregnant,” as head of BuzzFeed Studios to oversee the company’s slate of original content. Based in L.A., she had [...]

  • Snap-Derek-Andersen-Lara-Sweet

    Snap Fills Out Senior Ranks With CFO, HR Chief Appointments

    Snap CEO and co-founder Evan Spiegel has turned in house to fill the company’s CFO and head of human resources positions, completing an overhaul of the Snapchat parent’s executive ranks after a series of high-level departures. The company announced the appointment of Derek Andersen, currently Snap’s VP of finance, as chief financial officer. Andersen will [...]

  • Oculus Quest Gets Netflix App, But

    Oculus Quest Will Have Netflix, but Not Plex or HBO

    Facebook’s new Oculus Quest headset is launching with a number of high-profile gaming titles this Tuesday. Media apps on the other hand will take a bit of backseat, with some key players sitting this latest headset out for the time being. First, the good news for anyone who has pre-ordered the headset: One of the [...]

  • Lester Holt

    Chris Berend Tapped to Oversee NBC News' Digital Efforts

    Chris Berend, an executive who has been overseeing digital video for CNN and helped launch Great Big Story, a streaming-video site aimed at younger audiences, will jump to NBC News to lead its digital efforts. Berend will replace Nick Ascheim, who will move into a new role that is described as “improving digital and product [...]

  • Vogue, Conde Nast Entertainment Make Robert

    Robert Semmer Joins Condé Nast Entertainment & Vogue as Vice President of Video

    Condé Nast Entertainment and Vogue have named former Vice and Fader video executive Robert Semmer as their new vice president of video. Semmer will be based in New York and report to Croi McNamara, senior vice president of programming for Condé Nast Entertainment. “Anna and I are thrilled to welcome Robert to our award-winning video [...]

  • CEO of T-Mobile John Legere (L)

    FCC Chairman Backs T-Mobile, Sprint Merger With New Conditions

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai gave a thumbs-up to T-Mobile and Sprint’s proposed $26 billion merger, after the companies committed to enhanced 5G buildout commitments and agreed to spin off Sprint’s Boost Mobile. T-Mobile and Sprint first announced their plans to merge in April 2018, looking to combine forces to take on industry leaders AT&T and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content