Eccentric Swedish gamer Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg (a.k.a. PewDiePie) has recently thwarted Smosh, Machinima, and a slew of celeb singers – in the YouTube subscriber stakes – after his videos attracted a total viewing audience of 192.6 million in October. PewDiePie is one of the most successful video game commentators on YouTube, specializing in “Let’s Play” videos.
As of writing, the 24-year-old gamer has gained over 18.1 million subscribers, a figure that crushes the competition from Smosh (14.6 million) and Machinima (10 million), whilst beating the subscriber counts of VEVO channels from Rihanna (11.6 million), Eminem (9.1 million) and Katy Perry (8.2 million).
According to Tubefilter, PewDiePie was knocked from the number one spot, in November, by MÜ-YAP – a nonprofit organization that represents the music industry of Turkey, and aims to combat online piracy. Nonetheless, seated at position two in the November charts, and grossing almost 215.3 million views, PewDiePie’s repository of gaming videos remained a force to be reckoned with.
As part of Tubefilter’s November top 100 chart, 59 of the top 100 channels were reported to have originated from the United States. During September, the site reports an aggregate total in excess of 6.7 billion views for this elite 100 channel rundown, with VEVO being crowned the most-represented multi-channel network.
Who is PewDiePie?
For those unaware of the internet sensation, Kjellberg originated from the second largest city in Sweden, Gothenburg. Originally studying Industrial Economics and Technology Management at Chalmers University of Technology, he left the institution to focus on his YouTube channel; with over three billion video views under his belt, the change in career path looks to have paid dividends.
PewDiePie created his YouTube channel in April 2009, reaching one million subscribers in July 2012. When PewDiePie became “King of the Web,” he elected to publicly donate the winnings to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). King of the Web is a site where YouTube channel creators can compete with one another for votes; those with the most votes claim the title, along with the prize money.
PewDiePie also managed to bag the award for Most Popular Social Show and the Swedish Social Star Award at the Starcount Social Stars Awards ceremony, hosted in Singapore in 2013. Since this time, PewDiePie’s YouTube channel has gone from strength to strength and has become one of the fastest growing channels of this year.
The Swede’s soaring success has even attracted attention from Hollywood, as he was invited to attend the premiere of Harrison Ford’s latest blockbuster film, Ender’s Game. On Nov. 1, PewDiePie graced the red carpet, alongside Italian girlfriend Marzia Bisognin. 20-year-old Bisognin (a.k.a. CutiePie) also owns a YouTube account, which primarily focuses on vlogging, fashion and makeup.
A Rising Platform of Internet Entertainment
Pewdie’s success is a reminder of the ever-rising popularity of video game commentary and streaming on the Internet. The PlayStation 4 currently offers dedicated support for Twitch streaming and, according to IGN, the newly unleashed console was responsible for an estimated 10 percent of all Twitch streaming performed, since its Nov. 15 launch date in North America. Ultimately, an incredible 20 million minutes of PS4 footage has been streamed following its initial launch. However, even before the PS4’s inception, live broadcasting through Twitch was commonplace amongst the PC gaming community.
This type of content, according to Google, appeals to a much younger demographic – a group the Internet giant refers to as “Gen C,” with “C” representing their inclination towards “creation, curation, connection and community.”
Speaking to the Independent, Swedish columnist Lars Lindstrom spoke of Kjellberg’s meteoric rise to Internet fame, describing his talent as “indisputable:”
“It is both amazingly awful and amazingly funny when a father bikes around with his son in the game Happy Wheels and both get crushed and bloody again and again and PewDiePie improvises absurd comments as the game continues. The secret is that he really loves to play these games and that he has fun doing it.”
Alongside PewDiePie’s Happy Wheels series, he is also notorious for his sensational reactions whilst playing a variety of horror games, ranging from Amnesia: The Dark Descent to Outlast.
Warning: the following video contains scenes of blood, gore and use of language that some viewers may find offensive. Viewer discretion is advised.
With PewDiePie starting to outcompete illustrious YouTube gaming channels, such as Smosh, Machinima and even celebrity singers – at least, in terms of subscriber stakes – it seems we could be heading towards a new age of Internet entertainment. Now, as he starts distributing his own range of merchandise around the globe and gains wider mainstream acceptance, one can only wonder where the unconventional Swede is heading next.
By James Fenner