×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

PewDiePie Hits 50 Million YouTube Subscribers, Says He’s Deleting His Channel

YouTube megastar PewDiePie, the most popular creator on the platform, has reached 50 million followers — and the gaming vlogger and comic says he will carry through on his threat to delete the channel on Friday over a dispute with the Google-owned platform about declining page views.

PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, tweeted Thursday that he will “delete tomorrow 5pm gmt,” which would be noon Eastern in the U.S.  The YouTuber notched his 50 millionth subscriber worldwide around 5 p.m. ET Thursday.

https://twitter.com/pewdiepie/status/806981139399405569

However, it’s still unclear how serious Kjellberg is about his vow to delete the channel.

[UPDATE, Dec. 9, 12:15 p.m. ET: PewDiePie admitted that his threats were all just an attention-seeking stunt. He didn’t delete his primary channel — but did disable a joke account he’d recently set up to tweak another YouTube gamer. Read the full story: YouTube’s PewDiePie Punks Fans, Admits Threat to Delete Channel Was a Joke]

The Swedish-born YouTuber, now based in the U.K., has a penchant for pranks and showmanship. PewDiePie (whose current profile pic on the site is of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg) has delighted in tweeting fake news about himself, and his Twitter account was briefly suspended in August after joking that he had joined the Islamic terrorist group ISIS.

PewDiePie’s declaration to reboot his YouTube channel at 50 million subs seems aimed at grabbing the attention of YouTube higher-ups, as well as goosing video views with his theatrics.

In a Dec. 2 video, PewDiePie declared that he would delete his channel once it hit 50 million subscribers, expressing frustration with changes YouTube apparently made to its recommended-videos section that he claimed resulted in a loss of views.

“It seems that YouTube wants to promote random-ass f—ing videos that you don’t give a s— about,” groused PewDiePie. “It feels like a kick in the face when they make changes and don’t tell anyone about it.” He also complained that subscribers were not being notified about new videos in their feeds, and that some were being unsubscribed from channels.

Last week he tweeted, “Some progress being made. Holding pitch forks and tourches (sic) off for now” but later posted on Twitter: “if im pulling 2mil views per video with 50mil subs id rather restart and get rid of inactive accounts and piss people off in the process thx.” Then on Dec. 5 he tweeted that “YouTube has responded and are digging into the issues.”

https://twitter.com/pewdiepie/status/804807437320654848

In a follow-up video, Kjellberg claimed that most YouTubers generate about half their views from recommended and suggested videos. According to Kjellberg, prior to November 2016 he had been getting about 30% of his views from YouTube’s suggested videos section — but that plunged to less than 1% for videos he uploaded last month. Kjellberg said YouTube recommendations now seem to be emphasizing viral videos and older content with high click-through rates, adding that porn has shown up in his suggested-videos feed.

Asked for comment, a YouTube rep said, “We are in touch with YouTube creators to address their concerns.”

Regarding claims of drops in subscriber numbers, YouTube said it has conducted “an extensive review and found there have been no decreases in creators subscriber numbers beyond what normally happens when viewers either unsubscribe from a creator’s channel or when YouTube removes spammed subscribers.”

But YouTube hasn’t provided any explanation about why viewership numbers are dropping for PewDiePie as well as other YouTubers. According to Kjellberg, YouTube told him that it had not made any changes to its content-recommendation algorithm.

Burnie Burns, co-founder and creative director of digital studio Rooster Teeth, said it does appear that YouTube has made some changes to make user engagement a priority. In his view, however, the internet-video giant is justified in its efforts to continuously improve the way the site functions as a whole.

“YouTube doesn’t owe us anything but a healthy platform,” Burns said. “If they decide changes are necessary for the good of all the creators, that’s what they should do.” Rooster Teeth offers original shows like “Red vs. Blue” and “RWBY” on its own subscription service before uploading them for free to YouTube. The company is a division of Fullscreen Media, which is owned by Otter Media (a joint venture of AT&T and Chernin Group).

Meanwhile, Kjellberg said his concern about the recent YouTube changes has to do with making it the best possible place for creators and their fans, and that he doesn’t care about racking up huge views. “Believe it or not, this is not about money for me,” he said in a Dec. 4 video. “I think if this continues it’s going to kill a lot of channels.”

The 27-year-old generated gross income of $15 million for the 12 months ended in June, according to Forbes. The mag attributed Kjellberg’s 20% year-over-year gain largely to his YouTube Red series, “Scare PewDiePie,” and sales of his first book, “This Book Loves You.”

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Gabrielle Carteris

    SAG-AFTRA Urges Gavin Newsom to Sign Law Punishing 'Deep Fake' Videos

    SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White is urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign legislation that institutes penalties for nonconsensual digital sexually explicit videos, also known as “deep fakes.” The legislation, Assembly Bill 602, targets companies and individuals who create and distribute the videos in California without the consent of the individual being depicted. “We urge Gov. [...]

  • Facebook Portal logo

    Facebook Is Launching a Portal TV Device: Here’s What We Know

    Facebook is getting ready to launch a TV streaming device in time for the holiday season, Variety has been able to confirm with multiple sources familiar with the company’s plans. The new streaming hardware will be part of the company’s Portal family of devices, featuring a camera, and combining video chatting with TV viewing and [...]

  • MoviePass card

    MoviePass Shuts Down, With Parent Company Citing Failure to Raise Funds

    MoviePass, the long-struggling theater subscription service, finally appears to be down for the count. On Friday, MoviePass notified remaining subscribers that it would be shutting down the service effective Sept. 14, 2019, because “its efforts to recapitalize MoviePass have not been successful to date,” parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics announced. “The company is continuing [...]

  • Disney Plus - Full Lineup

    How to Browse the Disney Plus Catalog the Company Is Testing in the Netherlands

    Disney began testing its Disney Plus streaming service in the Netherlands this week. Consumers in the U.S. will have to wait until November 12 to get access to the service, but European streaming aggregator JustWatch already makes it possible to browse the catalog available during this beta test. JustWatch is one of a number of [...]

  • JoJo Siwa'The Angry Birds Movie 2'

    Nickelodeon Star JoJo Siwa Gets Her Own Dance-Tour Mobile Game (EXCLUSIVE)

    Fans of JoJo Siwa will be able to join the teen influencer’s dance squad on stage — virtually — in a new mobile game. In “JoJo Siwa — Live to Dance,” players will become part of the Nickelodon and YouTube star’s worldwide tour on her professional dance team and experience what it’s like to be [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content