After much anticipation and support from his avid fans, fellow creators, and the YouTube community as a whole, PewDiePie’s sub count has hit the 100 million mark—the first individual YouTuber to reach the milestone. Only one other YouTube channel—a music record label called T-Series in India—has surpassed the 100 million mark, currently sitting at 109 million subscribers. As the most followed YouTuber, PewDiePie earns a reported $12 million each year.
So, how did PewDiePie get here, and how are brands capitalizing on his his ascent into the YouTube Spotlight?
Having officially earned the label as the YouTuber with the most subscribers, PewDiePie’s reputation as the most popular YouTube creator (not to mention, the richest YouTuber) has been in effect for quite some time. YouTube recently paid tribute to his success on the platform over the years, dating back to 2011 when PewDiePie’s sub count hit 10,000.
Through the ups and downs, PewDiePie has remained a top YouTuber for three reasons:
In 2019, PewDiePie has been on the fast-track to recovery from past slip-ups, and the monumental achievement of amassing 100 million subscribers as an individual creator cannot go understated. To learn how exactly he achieved such a feat, we can look to his origins as a YouTuber, the fandom he acquired, and the multiple brand sponsorships he nabbed.
Felix Kjellberg, the man otherwise known as PewDiePie, is the most followed influencer on YouTube. He originally started a YouTube account in 2006, but the official PewDiePie channel came about in 2010. PewDiePie’s appeal as a sensational online personality caught on quickly, leading to his burgeoning sub count.
As a comedian, gamer, and commentator, PewDiePie began racking up hundreds of subscribers early in his career at a time when being a “professional” YouTube creator was not widely recognized. The content format of his videos proved wildly successful, with unique energy, entertainment, and authenticity that directly fed into his ever-climbing sub count.
By 2012, he amassed 1 million subscribers. By late 2013, he reached nearly 19 million subscribers and emerged as the most-subscribed YouTuber twice during that year.
In the few years after this astronomical growth, PewDiePie’s sub count continued to swell and he accrued well into the billions of video views. In 2016, he hit 50 million subscribers while also partnering up with other popular YouTubers in an original series. The rapid acceleration would soon be met with controversies over racial slurs, anti-semitic commentary, and other loose language. Nonetheless, PewDiePie’s sub count kept climbing, gaining 7 million in all of 2017 and another 6 million in December 2018 alone.
To PewDiePie’s credit, his knack for rallying millions of fans to support him through thick and thin has enabled him to catch the attention of many brand sponsors interested in leveraging the benefits of influencer marketing. Anyone familiar with the influencer marketing industry understands that an impactful influencer campaign hinges on the authenticity of the influencer-brand partnership.
As with any influencer marketing campaign, meaningful engagement with fans and followers usually determines whether the partnership is a natural fit. Influencer audiences are notoriously skilled at detecting inauthentic partnerships and consequently, respond negatively to sponsored content that doesn’t align with the influencer’s non-sponsored content.
While PewDiePie’s reputation has been tainted by controversial behavior, his overall conduct and heartfelt apologies have cushioned his falls from grace. Some brand sponsors dropped him in the aftermath of his offensive language, and the PewDiePie sub count may have suffered temporary lulls, but he remains one of the most influential YouTube creators and online personalities to date.
This is due in large part to his ability to draw in viewers from all corners of the globe, generate consistent and genuine engagement, and rebound from blips with minor reputational damage. All this leads to more YouTube users hitting the red subscribe button, more engagement, and scalable growth.
This is what brands yearn for—raw, unadulterated, and authentic engagement that translates into positive impressions and potential customers for brand sponsors.
PewDiePie has been involved in notable influencer marketing campaigns over the years, especially within the gaming category. Due to his status as a mega-influencer, working with PewDiePie is not easily attainable and comes with a big price tag.
Crucial to executing an influencer marketing campaign, brand sponsors must follow some basic steps in order to partner with PewDiePie, or any influencer for that matter:
Closely following these guidelines can enable brands to collaborate with the likes of PewDiePie and ultimately elevate their brand. While the PewDiePie sub count continues to accumulate more faithful followers, many brands will clamor at the opportunity to work with PewDiePie on creative, high-ROI influencer campaigns. Just keep in mind that brands whose mission aligns with that of an influencer’s and whose brand/product influencers actually believe in will have a better shot of developing a healthy influencer relationship.
With the trajectory of PewDiePie’s sub count on a steady incline for the last several years, we have little reason to think it won’t continue to grow. If PewDiePie maintains his influence through engaging entertainment, authentic sponsorships, and constantly-evolving material, more YouTube users will subscribe to his channel. In turn, this will fuel his content’s success, even on a platform that continually undergoes algorithm changes and updates.
Furthermore, as the epic battle between PewDiePie and T-Series carries out, buzz about PewDiePie’s sub count will likely reinforce its growth. And if PewDiePie continues to partner with brands for unique influencer campaigns while diversifying his content, his numbers will inevitably grow. By 2024, expect to see the PewDiePie sub count reach well over 200 million.
We look forward to tracking the outrageous growth of PewDiePie’s sub count and subsequently, his immense influence for years to come.