So, PewDiePie deleted his YouTube channel. Well, his other channel, Jacksepticeye2, which the entertainer recently started as a joke to see how quickly he could get a gold play button from YouTube. (It took him about a week to surpass one million subs.)
Did he just troll the entire internet? Yes, and it was glorious.
If you’re a close follower of PewDiePie, aka Felix Kjellberg, today’s move was no real surprise. The YouTuber has built a loyal fanbase by being a jokester, and he never seemed particularly committed to deleting his empire despite sticking to this message on social media.
Earlier this month, Kjellberg announced he would delete his channel once it hit 50 million subscribers—an incredible achievement regardless of if he went through with it. Why? That’s a complicated question, but it boils down to this: YouTube apparently has an inability to adequately communicate changes to its platform with content creators, something that Kjellberg says is a major problem.
PewDiePiew explained in his own words:
I feel like YouTube is like a toddler playing with knives… This has been a problem for a very long time. Number one, YouTube unsubbing you from a channel even though you didn’t unsub. Number two, videos not appearing for the person you subscribed to.
Kjellberg isn’t the only prominent YouTube personality to call attention to this issue. Last Month, h3h3Productions claimed YouTube wasn’t being honest with its creators, and provided evidence from fans ostensibly corroborating claims that people were mysteriously getting unsubbed. More and more videos on the platform with similar messages began to crop up, suggesting there really are issues YouTube hasn’t properly addressed.
Many of the top channels have apparently noticed a significant drop in views and subscribers over the past several months, an issue that could impact their livelihoods. (Yes, being a YouTube entertainer is a profession.) Kjellberg said his views have been dropping despite his growing subscriber base. Recently, he had a series of vlogs that he said performed below his usual average, something he attributes to YouTube’s issues.
Apparently, YouTube has been making behind-the-scenes changes without telling creators—or has failed to communicate why these changes are being made. Meanwhile, as h3h3Productions points out, YouTube is putting greater emphasis on trending and viral videos rather than fixing what longtime creators say is breaking the platform.
Or, is YouTube simply evolving to better cater to the casual viewer? That’s a hard one to pin down. You’d think the platform would do everything it could to listen to creator, especially since they’re the ones who have grown YouTube into what it is today.
H3h3Productions highlights a recent trend used by new creators that encourages artificial engagement—asking for likes before a video even begins—a practice YouTube appears to be rewarding by featuring these videos in the trending section of the site. YouTube has denied anything is wrong with its platform.
Kjellberg has brought attention to the issue before with seemingly no satisfactory response from YouTube. So, in order to bring even more wide-spread attention to the issue, Kjellberg promised to delete his channel in protest—but only after he reached the 50 million subscriber milestone.
“I think it’s gonna be pretty fun, I’m excited to delete my channel and start fresh with a new shitty channel probably,” Kjellberg said in a recent video titled “DELETING MY CHANNEL AT 50 MILLION.” He added, “I won’t quit YouTube, I’ll just delete the channel.”
Kjellberg’s fans took his comments as the gospel and soon after all hell broke loose. Many fans begged him not to do it, while others downloaded his extensive catalog of content in preparation. Some people hate-subscribed so he could hit that 50 million mark sooner and therefore delete his channel.
In the end, Kjellberg technically stuck to his word although his actions could be construed as disingenuous. He never explicitly said he’d delete PewDiePiew but it was certainly implied, even if he was joking.
The entertainer’s humor has evolved significantly over the past few years, and he often delivers lines in a way that can be tough to tell when he’s serious and when he’s not, something he actually highlighted in a recent video.
However you slice it, Kjellberg achieved what he set out to do: Bring attention to what he and many other YouTubers say is a rigged and broken platform. He also simultaneously increased his subscriber count and achieved a significant YouTube milestone.
Even if you don’t like PewDiePie the channel, Kjellberg has evolved as an entertainer who understands all too well how the business of online videos work. When he’s not electrifying his butt or highlighting vulgar content on YouTube, he comes across as an honest and genuine person who cares about his audience. And he’s not above mocking his own profession.
As of this writing, his channel has 50,154,882 subscribers, and you can bet that figure will only go up.
“You know when you make a joke and it just blows up way bigger than you ever imagined,” Kjellberg says in his most recent video. “That was it, that was the joke.”
Basically, Kjellberg pulled off the ultimate prank—something he already intends of repeating once he hits 100 million subscribers. “Will delete PewDiePie at 100 million.”
For YouTube’s part, the platform congratulated Kjellberg following his achievement. Shine on, Pewds, you keep doing you.