YouTube's biggest channel is about to get overtaken by a fast-growing Bollywood music label

Key Points
  • T-Series, a popular Indian music record label, is currently within inches of overtaking PewDiePie's dominance on YouTube.
  • PewDiePie's channel has seen its number of followers grow by 15 percent since the start of the year, while T-Series’ subscriber count more than doubled.
  • Felix Kjellberg — PewDiePie’s real name — ran into controversy last year when he was accused of making anti-Semitic jokes.
Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, better known by his online alias PewDiePie, attends the Social Star Awards 2013 in Singapore.
Getty Images

For years, Swedish video creator PewDiePie has dominated YouTube, raking in the most subscribers of any channel on the platform.

Felix Kjellberg — PewDiePie's real name — has been the most popular YouTube channel for five years. He currently has more than 67 million subscribers.

Now, the growth of one particular channel on Google's video sharing service threatens to usurp him.

T-Series, a popular Indian music record label, is currently within inches of overtaking Kjellberg's dominance. It has 67.23 million subscribers, just 140,000 short of the latter's 67.37 million.

And it has been growing at a much faster rate than Kjellberg's. While the PewDiePie YouTube channel has seen its number of followers steadily grow by around 15 percent since the start of the year, T-Series' subscriber count has more than doubled, according to comparison data from social media statistics website Social Blade.

The Bollywood label is already the most-viewed YouTube channel, with more than 51.5 billion video views, according to Social Blade data.

T-Series is a firm that has existed since 1983. It has increasingly capitalized on India's growing number of internet users, with its channel uploading several music videos a day and using the platform to upload trailers for movies.

Kjellberg has shrugged off concerns of being replaced as the most popular, jokingly remarking in one clip that he would challenge T-Series to a fight "IRL," meaning "in real life."

The Swede started out his channel in 2010, with a focus on playing horror video games and providing commentary in his early years on the platform. He has increasingly moved away from that original area of content, uploading more clips of pure commentary and comedy.

But the video maker ran into controversy last year when he was accused of anti-Semitism for posting a video in which he was seen paying two Indian men via the freelance service marketplace Fiverr to carry a sign reading the phrase "DEATH TO ALL JEWS."

The incident resulted in Disney's Maker Studios — which has now been rebranded to Disney Digital Network — cutting ties with Kjellberg. It also led Google to take punitive action, dropping him from the Google Preferred platform — which lets advertisers pay to place ads on high-performing videos — as well as pulling the plug on his YouTube Red series "Scare PewDiePie."

He has also been criticized over his use of the N-word during a live stream. In both instances, the YouTuber has apologized for his actions.

Controversy hasn't been limited to PewDiePie. YouTube has been faced with a broad advertiser backlash over allowing controversial content — including users promoting extremist viewpoints and hate speech — to be uploaded to its platform. It also recently punished vlogger Logan Paul after he posted a video which showed a man who appeared to have taken his own life in Japan's Aokigahara forest, a suicide hotspot. But the firm stopped short of saying his channel deserved to be taken down.

YouTube has since cracked down on creators who violate its community guidelines or advertiser-friendly content rules. In February, the company updated those rules, saying it reserves the right to pull creators from Google Preferred or strip channels of ads if they post egregious content.