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PewDiePie vs T-Series is an online competition between the two YouTube channels, PewDiePie (run by Felix Kjellberg) and T-Series (run by the company of the same name) for the title of the most-subscribed channel on the video-sharing website. PewDiePie has been the most-subscribed user since December 2013, while T-Series has been the most-viewed and second most-subscribed channel since early 2018. Prominent YouTubers such as MrBeast, Markiplier, Jacksepticeye and Logan Paul have voiced their support for PewDiePie, and many of PewDiePie's fans have made efforts to gain subscribers for his channel. Thousands of vulnerable printers, cameras, streaming dongles and smart TVs were hacked to promote PewDiePie and point to security vulnerabilities. On the other hand, several prominent YouTubers such as CarryMinati and Jus Reign have voiced their support for T-Series.
PewDiePie vs T-Series is an online competition between the two YouTube channels, PewDiePie (run by Felix Kjellberg) and T-Series (run by the company of the same name) for the title of the most-subscribed channel on the video-sharing website. PewDiePie has been the most-subscribed user since December 2013, while T-Series has been the most-viewed and second most-subscribed channel since early 2018.
Prominent YouTubers such as MrBeast, Markiplier, Jacksepticeye and Logan Paul have voiced their support for PewDiePie, and many of PewDiePie's fans have made efforts to gain subscribers for his channel. Thousands of vulnerable printers, cameras, streaming dongles and smart TVs were hacked to promote PewDiePie and point to security vulnerabilities. On the other hand, several prominent YouTubers such as CarryMinati and Jus Reign have voiced their support for T-Series.
Felix Kjellberg, known online as PewDiePie, is a Swedish YouTuber who makes comedy videos and has previously made Let's Play videos. His YouTube channel has had more subscribers than any other YouTube channel since August 2013. While he initially ran the channel himself, he currently has a small team of editors working on his videos.[relevant? – discuss] He has over 87 million subscribers and 20.5 billion views as of 24 February 2019[update]. He refers to his fanbase as the "9-year-old army".
T-Series is an Indian music record label and film production company. On YouTube, it has a multi-channel network consisting of 29 channels, run by a team of 13 people, with over 100 million combined subscribers in total as of November 2018. The main T-Series channel primarily contains Indian music videos (Bollywood music and Indi-pop) as well as Bollywood film trailers, and uploads several videos every day. T-Series became the most-viewed channel on YouTube in February 2017. The channel has over 86 million subscribers and over 62.8 billion views as of 25 February 2019[update], currently making it the most-viewed channel on YouTube.
Prominent YouTubers have publicly campaigned for subscribing to PewDiePie, while others such as Markiplier, Jacksepticeye and Logan Paul have made videos or tweets announcing their support for PewDiePie in the competition, often under the slogan "Subscribe to PewDiePie".
One of the first prominent YouTubers to support PewDiePie was MrBeast who bought billboards and radio advertisements in North Carolina telling viewers to subscribe to PewDiePie's channel. YouTuber Justin Roberts, a member of the YouTuber group Team 10, bought a billboard in New York's Times Square saying the same. Markiplier made a tongue-in-cheek live stream titled "I literally won't shut up until you subscribe to PewDiePie" telling his viewers to subscribe to PewDiePie's channel. Jacksepticeye did a live stream telling his viewers to subscribe to PewDiePie's channel and jokingly threatened to delete his channel if T-Series surpasses PewDiePie. MrBeast and his friends attended Super Bowl LIII, wearing t-shirts reading "Sub 2 Pew Die Pie". The group was prominently displayed in an ESPN tweet after Stephen Gostkowski had missed a field goal during the 1st quarter. In February 2019, YouTuber and author Alfie Deyes announced his support for PewDiePie in a tweet.
Smaller Youtubers have also promoted PewDiePie. In reaction to MrBeast's advertising campaign, Saimandar Waghdhare, an independent Indian YouTuber with the channel "Saiman Says", responded to MrBeast's advertising campaign by posting a sarcastic video in which he pretends to support T-Series. However, he later released a video in which he declares his support to PewDiePie. Patrick Adair Designs made a ring that is programmed to use NFC so a nearby person's phone subscribes to PewDiePie and unsubscribes from T-Series. Davie504 flew from Hong Kong to Noida and played "Bitch Lasagna", PewDiePie's diss track against T-Series, outside their headquarters on a bass guitar. Goose Wayne "Batman" said in a YouTube video that he would "fight T-Series to the death" for PewDiePie after appearing on the Dr. Phil talk show.
YouTube Rewind 2018: Everyone Controls Rewind, the 2018 video edition of the annual YouTube recap, became the most-disliked video on the platform after a heavy backlash. One of the cited reasons for the criticism was the lack of coverage of the competition between PewDiePie and T-Series. YouTuber Jaiden Animations, however, had contributed to the video, and her animation includes several hidden icons and objects related to PewDiePie.
A hacker under the pseudonym "HackerGiraffe" sent print jobs to a total of around 50,000 vulnerable printers in November, and another hacker under the pseudonym "j3ws3r" did the same to around 80,000 printers in December. Messages were printed out saying "PewDiePie is in trouble and he needs your help to defeat T-Series!" and urging printer users to subscribe to PewDiePie, unsubscribe from T-Series, and fix their printer. HackerGiraffe claimed that he had discovered more than 800,000 vulnerable printers using the search engine Shodan used for finding vulnerable devices. The latter hacker also took down T-Series' website with a denial-of-service attack.
In December 2018, one of the Wall Street Journal's websites was hacked and displayed a message apologising for articles accusing PewDiePie of anti-Semitism and told readers to subscribe to his channel.
In January 2019, more than 65,000 of Google’s Chromecast streaming dongles were hacked by HackerGiraffe and j3ws3r, displaying a message on smart TVs urging people to subscribe to PewDiePie and adjust their security settings. However, despite much positive feedback from the public, one of the hackers anonymously revealed to the BBC that he suffered a breakdown due to the prospect of facing jail time and angry messages urging him to commit suicide. Both hackers are in hiding, but do not regret their decisions due to a lower number of vulnerable printers which they believe is due to their hack. Also in January, dozens of Nest Cameras were compromised by a hacker under the pseudonym "SydeFX" using credential stuffing, who spoke to victims through the cameras, demanding they subscribe to PewDiePie.
The UK Independence Party announced their support for PewDiePie in a tweet.
The rivalry between PewDiePie and T-Series got more attention in India after controversial actions by PewDiePie and his fans. PewDiePie's "Bitch Lasagna" diss track contained lyrics about Indian people that some Indians found offensive, including references to practices of open defecation and poor conduct of English language common in India. Many of PewDiePie's fans have engaged in negatively spamming and trolling the T-Series channel, which included swarming T-Series' videos with PewDiePie-related comments, leaving dislikes on their videos, and flagging their videos with false reports. A number of PewDiePie's fans and supporters have also been making anti-Indian remarks and using racial slurs. This has led to several independent Indian YouTubers announcing their opposition to PewDiePie and support for T-Series.
In November 2018, Indian-Canadian comedian and YouTuber Jus Reign uploaded a video called "In Defense of T-Series", where he talks about T-Series, mentions his childhood listening to their music, and shows a short music video at the end celebrating T-Series.
In response to PewDiePie's "Bitch Lasagna" diss track, several Indian YouTubers responded with their own Hindi-language diss tracks against PewDiePie. Tatva K released his diss track "Pew Ki Pie" in November 2018, followed by Asif Bantaye releasing his diss track "PENDUBHAI" in December 2018. On 1 January 2019, CarryMinati, a PUBG player and one of India's top ten YouTubers, released a diss track called "Bye PewDiePie", which garnered nearly 5 million views within 24 hours.
In August 2018, PewDiePie posted a video titled "this channel will over take PewDiePie" in which he jokingly rallied his fans against T-Series. The video also referenced the KSI vs. Logan Paul YouTube boxing match, which similarly involved a rivalry between two major YouTubers.
On 5 October 2018, PewDiePie—in collaboration with Party In Backyard—posted a diss track against T-Series, titled "Bitch Lasagna". In the song, he throws insults towards T-Series and their video content, makes references to contemporary Indian stereotypes and questioned the legitimacy of T-Series' subscriber count by accusing the company of using "sub bots" to gain false subscriptions.
After he was asked about his "serious opinions" about the situation, PewDiePie said: "I don't really care about T-Series, I genuinely don't, but I think if YouTube does shift in a way where it does feel more corporate, [then] something else will take its place. I think people enjoy this connection so much, I think something else will just show up, if it feels too corporate." He also blamed YouTube for a lack of support toward individual YouTubers. Speaking to Metro in November 2018, PewDiePie said that he was, "surprised no one has stepped up sooner", referring to T-Series competing for the most-subscribed spot.
On 2 December, as the gap between the numbers of subscribers rapidly shrank, PewDiePie tweeted "It looks like this is it bois." After multiple high-profile YouTubers posted videos supporting him, PewDiePie made a video the next day calling for his viewers to support the Indian non-governmental organisation Child Rights and You, in response to some of his fans' anti-Indian sentiment. He raised £173,682, including a donation by Minecraft creator Markus Persson, and also ran a charity live stream the next day.
On 3 February 2019, PewDiePie live streamed himself playing Fortnite on YouTube to stop T-Series from surpassing him. A week later, PewDiePie did another live-stream in an attempt to stay ahead of T-Series, this time playing Roblox. His account was then deleted by Roblox, reportedly because of his past behaviour. PewDiePie's account was restored the next day and Roblox have said that he was "incorrectly banned". On 17 February 2019, PewDiePie did a third live stream of himself playing minigames in Minecraft in another attempt to stay ahead of T-Series.
In September 2018, T-Series president and head of its digital division Neeraj Kalyan said "[i]t's a matter of pride for all Indians that an Indian YouTube Channel will soon be world's biggest channel on YouTube". He also responded to PewDiePie fans by stating that "[n]o amount of spamming will be able to hold back the power of good music." Kalyan further added that the channel's overseas viewership has increased as a result of the subscriber race, stating that "people in the West, or in the East as far as Japan were not even aware of us. They now know about us because of all that controversy."
T-Series chairman and managing director Bhushan Kumar, son of late founder Gulshan Kumar, told the BBC in December 2018 that he had previously never heard of PewDiePie until "a few months ago". Bhushan Kumar said he's "really not bothered about this race" and followed up with "I don't even know why PewDiePie is taking this so seriously." He added that they "are not competing with him." In February 2019, Kumar was reported by The Washington Post to have said that "[e]verybody knows T-Series across the world now. If we had become number one on our own, nobody would have known about us."
The media quickly picked up on the competition for the "vaunted honour" of being the most-subscribed channel on YouTube. The Evening Standard, The Independent and Quillette described the rivalry as "David vs Goliath" because T-Series is a large corporation and brand with many employees, while PewDiePie is a YouTuber behind a standalone channel. The Guardian, on the other hand, described T-Series as "a challenger from the streets of Delhi", in reference to the humble origins of its late founder Gulshan Kumar, who was a fruit juice seller when he founded the company.
Vox says that this competition represents the growing divide of subcultures on YouTube—on one side are the creators who have developed their own channels over the course of YouTube's history, and on the other side sit corporations who use YouTube as a platform to advertise their shows from external platforms.
The Verge compared the rivalry to the KSI vs Logan Paul YouTube boxing match. The Verge writer Patricia Hernandez described PewDiePie's antagonism as "all for show" and stated that "rivalries play a huge role on YouTube because they give viewers narratives where pseudo-heroes and villains exist with low (if any) stakes."
The Washington Post has reported that the success of T-Series represents the fast growth of Internet in India with an increase from 20 million Indians with Internet access in 2000 to 560 million in 2018. The Post noted that India became the second-largest mobile phone market in 2018. It also highlighted mobile data plans in India and noted the importance of voice technology because of the low rate of literacy in India. Journalist Ravi Agrawal said that India quickly progressed to cheap mobile phones by skipping slower initial technological advances in the west. Vice reported that T-Series' success lies in focusing on regional audiences and that T-Series does not have competitors in online music in India.
The Daily Collegian described the rivalry as the "ultimate fight of individuals and corporations", stating that "Pewds has shown the internet the power individuals have when they set their minds to something."
In September 2018, the YouTube channel FlareTV started a livestream showing the live subscriber counts of both channels. In October 2018, social media statistics and analytics website Social Blade started a similar livestream showing the live subscriber counts of both channels.
On 13 December 2018, YouTube removed a large number of spamming subscribers from the platform. As a result, PewDiePie lost over 40,000 subscribers and T-Series lost more than 200,000 subscribers from its main channel.
For approximately 8 minutes on 22 February 2019, T-Series briefly passed PewDiePie due to a routine audit that makes sure a channel's video views and subscribers reflect real users' actions. PewDiePie quickly regained the lead.