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PewDiePie vs T-Series
PewDiePie in 2019
T-Series' logo
DateAugust 29, 2018[1] – April 28, 2019[2]
OutcomeT-Series victory[3]
  • T-Series overtook PewDiePie as the most-subscribed YouTube channel on April 14th, 2019
  • T-Series became the first YouTube channel to reach 100 million subscribers on May 29th, 2019

PewDiePie vs T-Series was an online rivalry between two YouTube channels, PewDiePie (run by Felix Kjellberg) and T-Series (run by an Indian record company of the same name) for the title of the most-subscribed YouTube channel. T-Series has held the title of most-viewed YouTube channel since February 2017, and PewDiePie had been the most-subscribed YouTube channel since August 2013. The rivalry between the two YouTube channels began when T-Series' subscriber count began to near PewDiePie's in late 2018.

Many YouTubers voiced their support for PewDiePie, including Markiplier, Jacksepticeye, MrBeast, DanTDM, KSI, H3h3Productions and Logan Paul. Many of his fans made efforts to gain subscribers for his YouTube channel in numerous ways, including organised marches and supportive YouTube videos. Supporters of PewDiePie often used the slogan "Subscribe to PewDiePie". The activism of some supporters extended beyond legal grounds; vandalism, hacking of websites, social media accounts, personal devices and the creation of malware had taken place to urge people to subscribe. "Bitch Lasagna", a diss track by PewDiePie against T-Series, and the use of anti-Indian remarks by some of his fans (which PewDiePie would later criticize), led to several prominent Indian YouTubers publicly opposing PewDiePie and backing T-Series with YouTube videos and response diss tracks.

T-Series temporarily overtook PewDiePie in subscribers on numerous occasions starting from February 2019, and permanently surpassed him on 14 April 2019. On 28 April 2019, PewDiePie released a video calling for his supporters to end their efforts to keep him as the most subscribed YouTube channel.[4]

Background and overview

Felix Kjellberg, better known online as PewDiePie, is a Swedish YouTuber who makes comedic videos. He has traditionally been known for his Let's Play videos, and his channel was the most subscribed on YouTube from 15 August 2013 until 14 April 2019, when he was permanently surpassed by T-Series. His fan base at the time of the competition was generally known as the "9-year-old army".[5]

T-Series is an Indian music record label and film production company. On YouTube, it has a multi-channel network consisting of 29 channels (excluding Lahari Music),[6] run by a team of 13 people.[7] The main T-Series channel primarily contains Indian music videos (Bollywood music and Indi-pop) as well as Bollywood film trailers, and releases several videos every day, having uploaded over 20 thousand videos as of October 2023.[7][8]

The competition between the two channels began after T-Series began to near PewDiePie in subscribers in late 2018. Many channels began to pick up on the fast-paced growth of T-Series during the summer of 2018, with some allegations against T-Series claiming to use subscriber bots to artificially boost their subscriber count. Others claimed T-Series was being artificially propped up by the YouTube algorithm to allow them to pass PewDiePie due to several controversial issues surrounding him over the past few years. T-Series was able to grow rapidly on YouTube due to the recent introduction of affordable internet access in India, particularly by Jio in 2016.

The Competition

Early Support of PewDiePie (October - November 2018)

By 26 October 2018, T-Series was within 115,000 subscribers from surpassing PewDiePie, growing roughly five times faster than him. On the same day, the first prominent YouTuber to support PewDiePie, MrBeast, published a video where he bought numerous billboards and radio advertisements in North Carolina urging people to subscribe to PewDiePie's channel.[9] This video went viral, raising awareness across the Internet about the impending overtake of PewDiePie, resulting in a massive wave of support and an influx of subscribers for PewDiePie. This kicked off a major competition between the two channels, showing that it was possible to stop T-Series from overtaking PewDiePie, at least temporarily with enough support. By 1 November 2018, the subscriber gap between PewDiePie and T-Series grew from 115,000 to over 700,000, giving PewDiePie roughly another three weeks at the top before the support wore off and T-Series would eventually start to close the gap again.

On 25 November 2018, the subscriber gap had shrunk to just 69,000, the lowest ever, before MrBeast once again uploaded another video to lift PewDiePie's subscriber count, in which he repeated "PewDiePie" 100,000 times in a period of over 12 hours.[10] This raised the subscriber gap to roughly 277,000 on 27 November, a considerably smaller advantage than the first effort to keep PewDiePie ahead. By 1 December, the subscriber gap dropped below 100,000 again, and it was believed by many data analysts such as Social Blade that T-Series would overtake PewDiePie the next day.

PewDiePie dominates (December 2018)

On the morning of 2 December 2018, T-Series' growth rate was rising dramatically as they got closer to overtaking PewDiePie. As the morning progressed, PewDiePie's subscriber count would begin to rise dramatically to match T-Series. The two channels were both growing at around 400 subscribers per minute by noon, and would reach 73,000,000 subscribers only 15 minutes apart.[11] Around the same time, the subscriber gap had shrunk to a razor thin margin of just 15,000 subscribers in favor of PewDiePie. Supporters of both sides of the channels were doing everything they could to keep the other from gaining an edge over the other. However, the balance quickly changed in favor of PewDiePie after Jacksepticeye posted a tweet urging people to subscribe to PewDiePie.[12] This caused PewDiePie to explode ahead of T-Series, gaining roughly 1,000 subscribers per minute and raising the subscriber gap to over 75,000 within an hour. However, a daily YouTube audit erased many of PewDiePie's recently earned subscribers and added additional unconfirmed subscribers to T-Series channel, once again cutting the gap to about 20,000 subscribers. However, T-Series growth was beginning to slow as time zones heavily effect T-Series growth, who primarily brings in their subscribers from South Asia. PewDiePie continued to barrel ahead as T-Series slowed down for the night. Markiplier, a highly influential gaming YouTuber started a live stream shortly after and urged his subscribers to subscribe to PewDiePie.[12] PewDiePie grew even faster than before, topping out around 2,500 subscribers per minute for over an hour straight. This was the fastest growth ever documented by either channel for the entirety of the competition. By the end of the day, the efforts of the YouTube community had given PewDiePie a 300,000-subscriber lead that was quickly growing.

Over the next few days, both channels continued to grow at record pace. The subscriber gap reached 500,000 on 4 December before T-Series started to chip away at PewDiePie's lead over the next couple of days. On 6 December, Logan Paul published a video declaring his support for PewDiePie, giving him another tremendous boost that pushed the subscriber gap to over 1,000,000 in his favor.[13] PewDiePie would be the first channel on YouTube to reach 75,000,000 subscribers on 8 December. Over the next week, PewDiePie dominated over T-Series in nearly every metric and outgrew them at nearly every hour of the day, matching or surpassing T-Series growth during their peak hours and charging ahead during their down periods. Many more channels, small and large continued to throw their support behind PewDiePie during this time.

On 13 December 2018, YouTube made an announcement that they would be conducting a subscriber purge across the website to "eliminate spam accounts" and create more accurate reflections on creators' subscriber counts.[14] By this point, PewDiePie had a 1.1 million subscriber advantage over T-Series, but caused concern amongst his supporters that this could severely reduce their lead, if not cause T-Series to pass him due to both sides creating spam accounts to artificially boost their preferred channel's subscriber count. This subscriber purge was conducted on 14 December. PewDiePie lost 59,000 subscribers, but T-Series lost a staggering 266,000 subscribers, adding to PewDiePie's already sizable lead over T-Series.[15] Both channels had started to slow in their growth rate as PewDiePie built up such a large lead. PewDiePie continued to modestly grow his lead until 19 December, where the subscriber gap had reached its absolute maximum of the competition; 1,470,000 at around 11:00pm EST.

By this point in the competition, it was believed by many that PewDiePie won. With a near 1.5 million subscriber gap in his favor, T-Series' growth slowing to its lowest point since the start of the competition, and no signs of either side making any meaningful gains on the other, the race between both channels started to lose publicity. The subscriber gap would hover between 1 and 1.5 million until the end of the year. In response to poor public reception of YouTube Rewind 2018: Everyone Controls Rewind, which had quickly become the most-disliked video on the platform, PewDiePie published his own version which drew in additional subscribers and held T-Series to a 1-million subscriber deficit until the end of 2018.[16]

T-Series catches up, race tightens (January - February 2019)

At the start of 2019, PewDiePie had a 1.1 million subscriber lead over T-Series, but the huge burst of incoming subscribers has substantially slowed, and T-Series remained at a consistent growth rate over PewDiePie. Through the first half of January, T-Series consistently chipped away at the subscriber gap. Despite this, PewDiePie became the first channel to reach 80,000,000 subscribers on 6 January.[17] By the third week of January, T-Series was once again within striking distance of claiming the #1 spot and the subscriber gap narrowed to around 90,000 subscribers on 20 January, the lowest difference in almost 2 months. PewDiePie's subscriber growth began to rise dramatically again as T-Series got closer. PewDiePie's supporters were able to make a small gain on T-Series and his lead rose to slightly over 150,000 through the next day. On 22 January 2019, PewDiePie received a handful of promotions from Keemstar and Dude Perfect that brought in a large boost of subscribers. This propelled subscriber gap up to a peak of ~375,000 on 25 January. After this, PewDiePie and T-Series would have very similar growth rates, with T-Series only making small gains each day on PewDiePie as the race had once again heated up in light of the recent promotions.

The Super Bowl

PewDiePie would sail comfortably into the start of February with a modest 100,000 subscriber lead over T-Series. However, the difference in subscribers was beginning to tighten up in favor of T-Series. MrBeast had made a promise to the community that he would save PewDiePie's lead with a major advertisement during Super Bowl LIII, the most watched annual sporting event in the United States on 3 February. However, T-Series had began to grow much faster than anticipated and the subscriber gap reached just 30,000 by the morning of 3 February. This prompted PewDiePie to launch his first of several livestreams during the competition, where he played Fortnite in an attempt to boost his subscriber count.[18] This only granted PewDiePie a very small increase over T-Series, but did buy him enough time to stay ahead until the Super Bowl. After the stream, Keemstar stepped in again with another promotion for PewDiePie which raised the difference to roughly 75,000 subscribers by the time the Super Bowl began. MrBeast and his crew attended the Super Bowl, purchasing tickets just behind the cross bars and wearing synchronized t-shirts that spelled out "SUB 2 PEW DIE PIE". While there was no televised feature of this promotion, ESPN tweeted a photo showing their message in the background after Stephen Gostkowski of the New England Patriots missed a field goal attempt in the first quarter. This brought in another influx of subscribers for PewDiePie, with the subscriber gap reaching another peak of around 150,000 a couple of days later.[19]

PewDiePie's lead would be threatened again just a week later. On 10 February, his lead had shrunk to just 20,000 subscribers ahead of T-Series, a 2-month low. PewDiePie livestreamed himself playing Roblox to lift himself back up, peaking at roughly 80,000 subscribers ahead of T-Series that same evening. This only bought PewDiePie a couple of days, as the subscriber gap had once again slipped to a new lowest point since the beginning of the competition; 9,000 subscribers on the morning of 13 February. Both channels were growing extremely fast as an overtake became imminent. Jacksepticeye promoted PewDiePie again with a livestream and pulled the subscriber gap just short of 100,000 for the first time in a week. This would be the last time PewDiePie would receive a major promotion from an outside channel, and the majority of new subscribers are coming in the form of natural growth, word-of-mouth, and alternate / spam accounts. On 17 February, the subscriber gap dipped below 14,000 subscribers, prompting Felix to start another live stream where he played Minecraft.[20] This did not give him a large boost but did buy his channel enough time to stay in the lead for at least the next day. T-Series was supposed to have been able to catch up the next day, but grew slower than usual, and PewDiePie was able to match this slower growth through 18 February without much effort from his supporters. Both channels had significantly slowed down from their peaks in December, averaging ~150,000 new subscribers each day.

T-Series briefly overtakes PewDiePie

Despite coming close numerous times, T-Series has never surpassed PewDiePie in subscriber count up to this point, but the line of resistance was observably getting lower. By this point, the margin between the channels had become razor-thin, and time zones had the most influence on the direction of the subscriber gap. The channels were battling back and forth on a touch-and-go basis. On 19 February, the difference dropped to roughly 8,000 subscribers, a record low, before climbing back up to ~37,000 by the end of the evening due to time zones stunting T-Series growth during PewDiePie's peak hours. The next day, 20 February, the subscriber gap once again dipped to a new low, with PewDiePie only 7,400 subscribers ahead of T-Series, before his fans were able to keep T-Series from making any further gains and the time zones saved his lead from shrinking further.[21] This brought in a small burst of subscribers that gave PewDiePie a generous 45,000-subscriber lead over T-Series going into the end of the day, and also kept the subscriber difference high enough from reaching a new record low on 21 February, bottoming out at ~12,500 before increasing again. PewDiePie's growth slumped as a result of this and the subscriber gap peaked at 33,000 as South Asia woke up. On the morning of 22 February T-Series began to grow quicker than usual, and the subscriber gap slowly sagged through the morning to a new record low of 4,987 despite the efforts of PewDiePie fans to keep up with T-Series' heightened speed. At this time, PewDiePie started his final livestream relating to the competition to boost the subscriber gap, playing Cool Math Games. This brought him a small boost and secured his lead for the day, lifting him to a 22,000 subscriber lead within a few hours after hitting a low point.

After not doing so since 19 February, YouTube conducted a daily audit on both channels on 22 February at 4:04pm EST. T-Series was given an additional 4,000 subscribers, but PewDiePie lost 20,000 subscribers. This gave T-Series their first lead over PewDiePie, a narrow 2,000 subscriber lead.[22] PewDiePie's fans quickly scrambled to reclaim their lead, passing T-Series after just 8 minutes. PewDiePie's subscriber count began to grow even faster after he uploaded a collaboration with Elon Musk and Justin Roiland, where they hosted "Meme Review," a series on Felix's channel. At the time, it was considered by many to not have truly counted as an "overtake" due to the fact that it only occurred due to a YouTube technical error (of not conducting a daily audit for three days), was only held for 8-minutes during T-Series' slow hours, and that a channel needed to hold a 24-hour lead in order to "end" PewDiePie's streak as the top channel on YouTube. T-Series' supporters disregarded these arguments, since no matter the circumstance was that lead to the overtake, T-Series had a larger subscriber count than PewDiePie did. The boost allowed for PewDiePie to gain a large lead over T-Series, peaking out at 150,000 on 25 February. T-Series would, as usual, slowly chip away at the lead created by PewDiePie and his supporters. The channels entered March with a difference of 50,000 subscribers in favor of PewDiePie.

The Climax (March 2019)

Plan U

After four months of battling back and forth, the competition has shown no signs of slowing down. By this point, both channels have crossed 86 million subscribers, and well on their way to 100 million, a milestone that had never been reached by any channel on YouTube at the time. The goals of both sides began to also include having their channel be the first to cross the milestone. So far, the balance of power has heavily shifted in favor of T-Series, who has consistently been inching closer and closer to claiming the top spot, and even did so briefly (with help) at the end of February. During the time it took for T-Series to catch up again, a small Indian YouTuber named Sirf True shared his plan for giving T-Series a better chance at generating a lead over PewDiePie, dubbed "Plan U" or "Plan Unity." The plan was to create spam accounts that would subscribe to PewDiePie, and then at a certain coordinated time, such as 6:00pm IST, would unsubscribe these accounts from PewDiePie's channel and subscribe to T-Series. This would cause a sharp drop in Felix's numbers and a huge bump for T-Series.[23] This plan went viral amongst the Indian YouTube community and allowed it to eventually have a major influence on the outcome of the race. In its early days, Sirf True would publicly announce times to do so, but T-Series supporters would begin to improvise during opportune moments.

On 2 March, the subscriber gap once again had reached a critical low point. The first instance of Plan U occurred early in the morning, 5:30am EST, with a difference of roughly 10,000 in subscribers. Plan U cut the difference to just 7,000. Plan U would be executed multiple times throughout the day, chopping down the subscriber count with each attempt, but never overtaking PewDiePie. As the gap dropped lower, PewDiePie's side responded with faster growth to balance out the sharp drops. PewDiePie narrowly survived the daily audit by a mere 2,000 subscribers. The next day, 3 March, T-Series fans continued to use Plan U to try and get T-Series ahead. Despite dozens of efforts, with the plan being executed on every hour mark, almost every half-hour mark, and even some on the 15-minute mark, PewDiePie managed to survive despite Plan U dropping the subscriber gap to just 700 over T-Series a couple of times throughout the day. In a timelapse of the race between the two channels throughout the day, several U-shaped lines in the short-term subscriber gap graphs can be seen to signify Plan U, and the subsequent fight back upwards.[24] PewDiePie barely survived the daily audit again that resulted in cutting his growing lead to 1,500 subscribers. As usual, the subscriber gap rose into the night and fell once again into the morning of 4 March. Plan U's first attempt was at 6:00am EST, which was the most effective attempt ever recorded, cutting the lead from 7,500 to 2,500 in 15 minutes. T-Series' supporters attempted to overtake PewDiePie several more times, but as the morning progressed, T-Series began to lose subscribers and experienced net-zero growth for several hours.[25] It is suspected that this was due to YouTube detecting a suspicious pattern of growth for T-Series and the accounts used for Plan U were getting deleted. This allowed PewDiePie to build up a larger lead than usual and the attempts had stopped for the time being. There was also a small promotion from jacksfilms that inflated his growth for a couple of days. PewDiePie would be able to sail semi-comfortably for the next few days as YouTube's purge on T-Series' spam accounts persisted occasionally the next couple of days. His lead would range between 10,000 - 55,000 during this time. T-Series finally recovered by 8 March, and the sub gap fell to around 5,000 (without Plan U) before night in South Asia before PewDiePie recovered.

The second overtake

On the morning of 9 March, T-Series had completely caught up to PewDiePie again and was trailing by only a few thousand subscribers. T-Series' fans attempted Plan U several times early in the morning, but despite getting closer with each attempt PewDiePie held onto a narrow lead. By 11:00am EST, the difference between the two channels was below 1,500 subscribers and T-Series fans were staging spontaneous Plan U attempts every 15 minutes. An attempt at 11:15am EST caused the subscriber gap to drop to around 900. At this moment, YouTuber MaximilianMus, notorious for trolling, started a livestream titled "SUBSCRIBE TO T-SERIES AND UNSUBSCRIBE TO PEWDIEPIE". This caused T-Series to briefly surge in subscribers and overtook PewDiePie with a razor thin margin.[26] This caused an immediate reaction from PewDiePie's side, and he reclaimed the lead after only 2 minutes, even shorter than the first overtake two weeks ago. Many of MaximillianMus' followers went against him and helped PewDiePie. A few additional Plan U attempts afterwards were unsuccessful. PewDiePie quickly built up a larger lead over T-Series in response to the overtake and was able to coast through 10 March with a substantial lead, but it was decreasing.

PewDiePie's desperate defense

On 11 March, the subscriber gap continued to decrease to a point low enough to attempt Plan U. Despite over a dozen attempts to overtake PewDiePie for a third time, none were successful, with the closest attempt shrinking PewDiePie's lead to just 90 subscribers in front of T-Series before pulling back up. At 3:45pm EST, PewDiePie held a 5,000 subscriber lead that was quickly growing. At this time, YouTube conducted a daily audit that gave T-Series 6,000 extra subscribers, putting them 1,000 in front of PewDiePie, their third overtake, and the second in the past week. PewDiePie's fans quickly fought back with spam and alternate accounts, reclaiming the lead after 6 minutes. 20 minutes later, PewDiePie built up a 6,000-subscriber advantage before he received his daily audit, losing 13,000 subscribers, putting T-Series ahead for a fourth time with their largest lead ever, over 7,000 subscribers. This was the third overtake in a week, and the second time in the day. Felix's fans quickly got to work and began to mass-subscribe to PewDiePie with spam accounts. PewDiePie passed T-Series again after 17 minutes and the subscriber gap rose to 30,000 by the end of the evening during T-Series off-peak hours.[27] This pattern of the subscriber gap peaking around 30,000 before decreasing would continue for about a week.

On 12 March, Plan U attempts were unsuccessful, but T-Series did overtake PewDiePie for less than 60 seconds during the daily audit. A favorable audit for PewDiePie eliminated T-Series' lead. On 13 March, Plan U attempts were not successful and less effective than days prior, but the subscriber gap hovered around 1,000 for 6 hours during both channels' peak hours, this pattern would also repeat for the next several days. The daily audit allowed T-Series to pass PewDiePie with a lead of 4,400, but PewDiePie reclaimed the lead after 18 minutes, a new record for T-Series' length of time holding the top spot. PewDiePie's fans attempted to respond to Plan U by enacting "Plan P" during T-Series slow-growing hours, when PewDiePie has a considerable growth and subscriber advantage. The plan would be conducted over the next several days, but was considerably less effective than Plan U. On 14 March, Plan U had become even less effective, but the subscriber gap hovered around 1,000 once again for several hours before the time zones slowed T-Series down. The daily audit was small enough to allow PewDiePie to keep his lead for the whole day. On 15 March there was no Plan U attempts, but the subscriber gap had naturally stalled just above zero as it has for the past couple of days. The daily audit caused T-Series to gain another small and short-lived lead over PewDiePie. On 16 March, T-Series grew much slower than usual allowing PewDiePie to stay comfortably ahead for the day.

On 17 March, a Plan U attempt at 8:30am EST had finally worked, catching PewDiePie fans by surprise as this was an unusually late first attempt of the day. T-Series surpassed PewDiePie for a short period of time before PewDiePie fans responded with additional effort and regained the lead, maintaining a small lead for PewDiePie for the next several hours. Subsequent Plan U attempts were unsuccessful. The daily audit gave T-Series another small and short lead in the afternoon. The subscriber gap peaked at only 20,000 over T-Series during the evening, a pattern that would continue for the next couple of days. By 5:00am EST on 18 March, T-Series was caught up and only a few hundred subscribers ahead of PewDiePie. T-Series was able to overtake PewDiePie by completely natural means at 5:29am EST.[28] This is likely due to a majority of PewDiePie's fans still sleeping, as his audience is primarily based in the United States and Europe. T-Series lead rose to about 1,000 before PewDiePie fans fought back and reclaimed the lead after 15 minutes. He retained a very narrow lead for the next several hours, with Plan U attempts being infrequent and ineffective. PewDiePie became the first channel to reach 90,000,000 subscribers, just 3,500 in front of T-Series. The daily audit caused T-Series to shortly surpass PewDiePie again for no more than 30 minutes. On 19 March, T-Series naturally surpassed PewDiePie again at 4:47am EST for roughly 30 seconds before losing the lead.[29] PewDiePie would hold a lead no greater than 3,000 subscribers for over 10 hours. The daily audit gave T-Series another 4,000-subscriber lead that lasted for about 30 minutes.

On 20 March, T-Series naturally passed PewDiePie at 1:51am EST. PewDiePie regained the lead 10 minutes later, but both channels would be locked in a tight race for the next several hours. Both channels passed each other dozens of times overnight, but PewDiePie stayed ahead for a majority of the time, jumping ahead by a few hundred subscribers each time T-Series took the lead.[30] The subscriber gap would remain at essentially zero for over 12 hours, with PewDiePie being held up almost entirely by spam accounts by this point. This is reflected in recent daily audits, with the audit on 20 March annihilating PewDiePie's small lead, and giving T-Series a 11,500 subscriber lead over PewDiePie, a new record. For nearly an hour, PewDiePie fans would slowly claw their way back towards the top. A popular French streamer, Michou, promoted PewDiePie which very briefly boosted him to over 1,500 subscribers a minute, his second fastest growth ever recorded.[31] He reclaimed the lead after just under an hour and built up a small lead over the next several hours before the morning in South Asia.

On 21 March, T-Series uploaded a video that went viral, boosting them to over 200 subscribers per minute. T-Series blew past PewDiePie at 12:31am EST because of this and started to build up a large lead over the next several hours. The subscriber gap grew to 34,000 in favor of T-Series after 7 hours before PewDiePie's speed would rapidly pick up again to match and eventually exceed T-Series' faster growth. At 9:00am EST, PewDiePie was charging back growing twice as fast as T-Series. T-Series fans carried out Plan U to try and buy more time for T-Series who seemed to be quickly slipping away, but it did next to nothing to stop PewDiePie. After 11 hours and 36 minutes, PewDiePie charged past T-Series at 12:07pm EST, averaging 400 subscribers per minute, many of which were spam accounts.[32] He quickly developed a strong lead until the daily audit threw him 8,000 subscribers behind T-Series again, but quickly regained the lead. PewDiePie had a lead of 30,000 subscribers by the end of the day.

On 22 March, T-Series had naturally closed the gap by 5:00am EST. As they did a few days prior, both channels passed each other dozens of times over the course of several hours with PewDiePie remaining on top for a majority of the time. The subscriber gap would remain near zero until the daily audit at 2:30pm EST which gave T-Series another lead that lasted for about 45 minutes. PewDiePie had experienced heightened growth over the next couple of days, comfortably sitting on a 42,000-subscriber lead by the end of the night. On 23 March, T-Series did not come close to overtaking PewDiePie, with the difference remaining above 20,000 for the day. The subscriber gap peaked at 45,000 before coming back down. On 24 March, most of the day was spent with T-Series catching up to PewDiePie, which they did by 2:00pm EST with PewDiePie struggling to stay in front by a few hundred subscribers. The daily audit sent him behind by over 6,000 subscribers, but he recovered within an hour.[33] PewDiePie would struggle to develop a lead even during T-Series off-hours, peaking at only 15,000 subscribers ahead of T-Series.[34] On 25 March, T-Series passed PewDiePie with little resistance, and had a 20,000 subscriber lead after the daily audit. PewDiePie was able to eventually recover his lead extremely late and without much effort, at 6:44pm EST.[35] The gap peaked at only 6,000 in favor of PewDiePie before T-Series began to catch up. On 26 March, T-Series easily passed PewDiePie just after midnight. This time PewDiePie's fans fought back, and they held the subscriber gap at zero for a few hours. T-Series and PewDiePie passed each other hundreds of times during this time frame. Eventually, T-Series broke away and grew a lead up to 12,000 before PewDiePie came back up and retook the lead in the early evening, being 6,300 subscribers ahead of T-Series before falling back behind.[36]

On 27 March, T-Series passed PewDiePie a few minutes after midnight again, but this time there was no resistance. T-Series would be 25,000 subscribers ahead by the time PewDiePie started to narrow the gap. This time, he was unable to secure any lead before T-Series outgrew him, falling short by roughly 10,000 subscribers. This officially ended PewDiePie's streak as the most subscribed to YouTube channel after 1,920 days. Over the next few days, T-Series would slowly build up a larger lead over PewDiePie without any sign of a comeback. T-Series had reached 100,000 subscribers ahead of PewDiePie on 30 March.[37] There was an increase in PewDiePie's growth as the gap hovered around 100,000 for the next 24 hours.

T-Series wins (April 2019)

On 31 March, T-Series was resting at 114,000 subscribers ahead of PewDiePie in the early afternoon when PewDiePie released Congratulations, a diss-track on T-Series where he backhandedly congratulates them on finally surpassing him as the #1 most subscribed to YouTube channel. In the song, PewDiePie unleashes several hefty allegations on T-Series, including piracy, tax evasion, and threatening to sue PewDiePie over his first diss-track, Bitch Lasagna. This gave PewDiePie a major boost in subscribers. He rapidly closed the six-figure gap T-Series developed on him over the course of a week under 24 hours. On 1 April, he passed T-Series just after 8am EST and continued to smash T-Series across every metric of growth. Congratulations had reached the trending page in nearly every country, including India. On the same day, PewDiePie broke the 100,000 subscriber gap mark over T-Series, which he had not done since the end of February. On 4 April, T-Series started to lose thousands of subscribers which helped PewDiePie even further increase his lead to comfortably over 400,000, the highest since the middle of January. This same issue effected T-Series on 5 April.[38] It is suspected that YouTube was conducting a sweep of spam accounts related to the 2019 Indian general election. By 6 April, PewDiePie's growth had significantly slowed but managed to breach over 500,000 subscribers ahead of T-Series. The subscriber gap peaked at 503,629 at 10:45pm.[39] This was the last time PewDiePie would make a substantial gain on T-Series.

From here, T-Series began to regain dominance in growth rates. On 7 April, T-Series launched a sponsorship video with Pepsi that went viral in India, giving them a large jump in growth over the next several days. T-Series began to quickly eat away at the large lead PewDiePie had grown nearly as quickly as he generated it. PewDiePie's growth rate also plummeted to its lowest since the start of the race. Even during T-Series' slowest hours, PewDiePie was barely making any gains on T-Series. This trend would continue for a week. By the end of 13 April, Felix was only 65,000 subscribers ahead of T-Series. Overnight on 14 April, T-Series uploaded a collaboration with Pitbull, an American rapper that performed exceptionally well. T-Series began to grow even faster, topping over 225 subscribers per minute throughout the night, while PewDiePie gained roughly 50 subscribers per minute. On 14 April 2019 at 4:57am EST, T-Series passed PewDiePie for the final time.[40] There was no attempt by his fans to counter T-Series' as they stormed ahead. T-Series reached 95 million subscribers on 20 April, and the subscriber gap had risen to over 1,000,000 in favor of T-Series on 26 April. On 28 April, PewDiePie uploaded a video asking his fans to end the campaign to "Subscribe to PewDiePie." He cited numerous reasons for this, including acts of vandalism, hacking, racism, and the Christchurch mosque shootings, where the perpetrator repeated "Subscribe to PewDiePie" before live streaming his mass murder. Felix intentionally avoided mentioning T-Series' lead over him. This effectively ended the competition between the two channels.

Outside of YouTube

Additional activism

YouTuber Justin Roberts, a member of the group Team 10, bought a billboard in New York's Times Square reading the same.[41][42] Markiplier made a tongue-in-cheek live stream titled "I literally won't shut up until you subscribe to PewDiePie" urging his viewers to subscribe to PewDiePie's channel.[43][41][42] Jacksepticeye ran a live stream with the same purpose, jokingly threatening to delete his channel if T-Series surpassed PewDiePie.[44]

Smaller YouTubers 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, later releasing a video in which he instead declares his support to PewDiePie.[45]

YouTube Rewind 2018: Everyone Controls Rewind, the 2018 video edition of the annual YouTube Rewind series, became the most disliked video on the platform after heavy backlash. One of the cited reasons for the criticism was the lack of coverage of the competition between PewDiePie and T-Series.[46] YouTuber Jaiden Animations, however, had contributed to the video, and her animation included several hidden icons and objects related to PewDiePie.[47]


A hacker under the pseudonym "HackerGiraffe" sent print jobs to around 50,000 vulnerable printers in November, and another hacker under the pseudonym "j3ws3r" did the same to around 80,000 printers in December.[48][49][50] Messages were printed out saying "PewDiePie is in trouble and he needs your help to defeat T-Series!" and urged printer users to subscribe to PewDiePie, unsubscribe from T-Series, and fix their printer's security settings. HackerGiraffe claimed that he had discovered more than 800,000 vulnerable printers using the search engine Shodan used for finding vulnerable devices.[42][51] 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.[52][53] However, despite positive feedback from some people, 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, but did not regret lowering the number of vulnerable personal devices.[54] 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.[55]

Hacking was not limited to hardware. In December 2018, one of The Wall Street Journal's websites was hacked to display a message apologizing for articles accusing PewDiePie of antisemitism and to tell readers to subscribe to his YouTube channel.[42][51] The hacker j3ws3r also took down T-Series' website with a denial-of-service attack.[50] In February 2019, Bob Buckhorn, the mayor of Tampa, Florida, had his Twitter account hacked to post malicious tweets, one of these encouraging users to subscribe to PewDiePie.[56] On 22 March 2019, a user on the PewDiePie subreddit developed ransomware by the name PewCrypt that encrypted files on Microsoft Windows machines. The attacker claimed he would release a decryption key when PewDiePie hit the 100 million subscriber milestone, however, the author claimed that if T-Series claimed that goal first, the decryption tool would be deleted permanently.[57]

Other activism

On 4 November 2018, a group of young fans began to hand out posters in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh,[58] which PewDiePie acknowledged in a YouTube video.[59][60] On 27 February 2019, Basketball Club Žalgiris based in Kaunas, Lithuania, had cheerleaders performing "Bitch Lasagna" during a time-out.[61]

Several marches were held in support of PewDiePie. On 27 February 2019, a parade was held in Tallinn, Estonia in support of PewDiePie. Up to several hundreds of people took part in the march, which went through Tallinn's Old Town and other busy areas of the city centre.[62][63] During the 2019 India–Pakistan standoff, T-Series removed the music of Pakistani pop artists from its channel. In response, there was a march in Pakistan where protesters held signs reading "Unsubscribe T-Series" and expressed their support for PewDiePie.[64] On 10 March 2019, a rally was held in Moscow for internet freedom, coordinated by the Libertarian Party of Russia. During the rally protesters played "Bitch Lasagna" and held signs which read "Sub to PewDiePie".[65][66]

On 12 March 2019, indie game developer Thomas Brush released a video game on based on PewDiePie vs T-Series called Zero Deaths, which takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting where PewDiePie must defend Marzia Bisognin, his wife, from fake YouTube subscribers known as "sub bots".[67]

On 29 April 2019, a plane flew over New York City with a banner attached saying "Subscribe to PewDiePie".[68] More than 21,000 people watched PewDiePie's live stream on DLive showing the plane with its banner fly over the city.[68] During the live stream, PewDiePie said that the event (which happened after his request to end efforts against T-Series) was "a nice little wrap up" to the Subscribe to PewDiePie meme.[68] The flight and banner, which costed more than $4,500, were crowdfunded by PewDiePie's fanbase.[68]

The right-wing populist UK Independence Party announced their support for PewDiePie in a tweet.[69][70] In an October 2019 interview with Kevin Roose of The New York Times, Kjellberg said of UKIP's support that "It's kind of funny how a political party would post about a meme" but that "it's also kind of like, Ehh, don't drag me into your politics."[71]

Criminal acts

Although PewDiePie told his fans not to do "anything illegal" in their activism,[62] some supporters committed criminal acts of vandalism to spread the "Subscribe to PewDiePie" meme. In March 2019, the Brooklyn War Memorial was vandalized with graffiti reading "Subscribe to PewDiePie".[62] The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation said that they would remove it.[72] PewDiePie later condemned the action,[73][74] and stated that he had made a donation to the park.[75] Another vandalism case occurred two days prior when "SUB 2 pewdiepie" was written on a school's property in Oxford, United Kingdom.[76]

In the moments leading up to the 15 March 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings, the perpetrator said on Facebook live, "Remember lads, subscribe to PewDiePie", as he live-streamed the shootings.[77] According to Kjellberg, after this the "Subscribe to PewDiePie" meme should have ended.

Support of T-Series

The rivalry between PewDiePie and T-Series received more attention in India due to controversial actions by PewDiePie and his fans. PewDiePie's "Bitch Lasagna" diss track contained some derogatory lyrics about Indian people that some Indians found offensive. Many of PewDiePie's fans had engaged in negatively spamming and trolling the T-Series channel,[78] which included swarming T-Series' videos with PewDiePie-related comments, disliking videos, and flagging their videos with false reports.[79] A number of PewDiePie's fans and supporters had also been making anti-Indian remarks and using racial slurs.[80][81]

The actions of such fans led to several independent Indian YouTubers announcing their opposition to PewDiePie and support for T-Series.[81][80] 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.[82] 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, Indian YouTuber CarryMinati, released a diss track called "Bye PewDiePie", which garnered nearly 5 million views in 24 hours.[81][80]



In August 2018, PewDiePie posted a video titled "this channel will overtake 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.[79] On 5 October 2018, PewDiePie, in collaboration with musician Party In Backyard, posted a diss track against T-Series, titled "Bitch Lasagna".[41][83] The title of the song is in reference to a viral Facebook Messenger screenshot, in which an Indian man, in broken English, demands nude photos of a Western woman, and when his requests remain unanswered, refers to her as "bitch lasagna".[84] In the song, he insults T-Series and their video contents, makes references to contemporary Indian stereotypes and accuses the company of using sub bots to gain false subscriptions.[85][86]

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."[87] He also blamed YouTube for a lack of support toward individual YouTubers.[9] 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.[88]

In December 2018, PewDiePie made a video calling on his viewers to support the Indian non-governmental organization Child Rights and You, in response to some of his fans' anti-Indian sentiment. In the video, Kjellberg says "No more 'f*** India', let's (instead) help India." He raised £173,682, including a donation by Minecraft creator Markus Persson, and also ran a charity live stream the next day.[43][89]

On 3 February 2019, PewDiePie live-streamed himself playing Fortnite on YouTube in an attempt to stop T-Series from surpassing him.[90] He later ran two more live streams for the same purpose, playing Roblox on one occasion,[91][92] and minigames in Minecraft on another.[93]

On 27 March 2019, T-Series surpassed PewDiePie. Following this, PewDiePie suggested through Twitter that the "winner" of the competition would be whoever reached 100 million subscribers first.[94] On 31 March, he posted another diss track: an upbeat synth-pop/hip-hop music video with YouTubers RoomieOfficial and Boyinaband, titled "Congratulations", which sarcastically congratulated T-Series for surpassing him.[73][95][96] In the music video, PewDiePie mocks how T-Series sent him a cease and desist letter alleging that his actions and lyrics of "Bitch Lasagna" were defamatory. The video also criticizes T-Series for alleged tax evasion and the fact that the company was founded through the selling of pirated songs.[96][73] Following PewDiePie's upload of the song, he regained the number one spot.[97][98]

On 28 April 2019, PewDiePie requested in a video that his viewers end the "Subscribe to PewDiePie" meme, stating that it "started out of love and support, so let's end it with that."[4] He also discussed the mental toll the Christchurch shooter's mention of his name had on him, stating "to have my name associated with something so unspeakably vile has affected me in more ways than I've let shown. I just didn't want to address it right away, and I didn't want to give the terrorist more attention. I didn't want to make it about me, because I don't think it has anything to do with me. To put it plainly, I didn't want hate to win … But it's clear to me now the 'Subscribe to PewDiePie' movement should have ended then."[4]

PewDiePie tweeted that he felt "sickened" to have his name uttered by the attacker, and expressed his condolences to the victims' loved ones.[99][74] Those who had helped to popularize the meme, like Ethan Klein, were repulsed that the phrase had been used as a call to arms by the attacker, and urged people to stop spreading the meme, hoping that it would die out.[100] The perpetrator of the 27 April 2019 Poway synagogue shooting also mentioned PewDiePie,[101] claiming without evidence that the shooting was planned and financed by PewDiePie.[102]

Following the 2019 Christchurch shootings, Kevin Roose of The New York Times wrote that the perpetrator's goal behind saying "subscribe to PewDiePie" during his livestream of the attack "may have been to pull a popular internet figure into a fractious blame game and inflame political tensions everywhere."[103] News18 reported a tweet cautioning that the shooter's intended consequence was that haters of PewDiePie would be inclined to blame PewDiePie rather than the shooter in order to "further [the accusers'] political agenda."[104]


In September 2018, T-Series president and head of its digital division Neeraj Kalyan said "It's a matter of pride for all Indians that an Indian YouTube Channel will soon be world's biggest channel on YouTube".[105] He also addressed PewDiePie fans, stating "No amount of spamming will be able to hold back the power of good music."[106] Kalyan further added that the channel's overseas viewership had 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."[6]

T-Series chairman and managing director Bhushan Kumar, son of late founder Gulshan Kumar, told the BBC in December 2018 that he had never heard of PewDiePie until "a few months ago".[7] He stated he was "really not bothered about this race" and voiced his confusion as to why PewDiePie was "taking this so seriously", adding that they were "not competing with him."[42] In February 2019, Kumar was reported by The Washington Post to have said that "Everybody knows T-Series across the world now. If we had become number one on our own, nobody would have known about us."[70]

On 6 March 2019, Kumar tweeted "We're on the brink of becoming the world's biggest @YouTube channel. We can make history. We can make India win. Subscribe to @TSeries", posting a video encouraging Indians to subscribe to T-Series' channel. In the video, he stated "this is a historic movement for all of us, so let's come together and subscribe to T-Series' YouTube channel and make India proud."[107][108]

In April 2019, T-Series sought a court order from the Delhi High Court to remove PewDiePie's diss tracks from YouTube. Despite PewDiePie's statement that these diss tracks were "done in good fun", the court issued a temporary injunction in favour of T-Series on 8 April 2019. The complaint against Kjellberg claimed that his songs were "defamatory, disparaging, insulting, and offensive," and noted that comments on the videos were "abusive, vulgar, and also racist in nature." Access to the diss tracks on YouTube was blocked in India.[109][110] In August 2019, it was reported that T-Series and PewDiePie had settled their legal disputes outside of court.[111]

In a May 2019 interview with Sangeeta Tanwar from Quartz India, when asked the question "What does being the number one channel on YouTube mean to you? Does it help business?" Kumar said:[112]

"We were never in this tussle to become number one or two with anyone. But all along there were these sarcastic comments from PewDiePie. And that’s how we decided to respond to the comments. I launched the #BharatWinsYouTube campaign, seeking more subscriptions from Indians. For us, this status does not result in any change on the commercial front. However, it changes the perception about who we are. With these developments, T-Series gets promoted. What is heartening is that now we are seeing growth even in countries where people were not watching our channel earlier."

— Sangeeta Tanwar, T-Series chief says PewDiePie asked for a YouTube fight and got it, Quartz India (May 2019)


Referring to T-Series' rise to prominence on YouTube, YouTube Asia Pacific's managing director Gautam Anand told The New York Times: "As more and more of India came along, video became the way that they were interacting with the internet", mentioning that 85 per cent of Indian internet users used YouTube. He furthered, "Even if you're not literate, you still enjoy watching video",[113] and mentioned: "India is a really great bright spot. It's one of the fastest-growing markets even within Asia."[6]

On December 14, 2018, YouTube removed a large number of bot and inactive subscribers from the platform. The change affected the subscriber count of both channels in the competition: PewDiePie lost over 55,000 subscribers and T-Series lost more than 220,000 subscribers from its main channel.[114]


Anthony Cuthbertson of The Independent described the rivalry as a shift in how established media companies viewed YouTube.[87] The Guardian's Nosheen Iqbal described T-Series as "a challenger from the streets of Delhi", referring to the origins of its founder Gulshan Kumar, who was a fruit juice seller when he founded the company.[42]

Vox's Aja Romano noted that the competition represented the growing divide of subcultures on YouTube—on one side were the creators who had developed their own channels over the course of YouTube's history, and on the other side corporations who used YouTube as a platform to advertise their shows from external platforms.[115]

Patricia Hernandez of The Verge compared the rivalry to the KSI vs Logan Paul boxing match. She 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."[79]

The Washington Post reported that the success of T-Series represented the fast growth of Internet in India, with an increase from 20 million Indians with Internet access in 2000 to 560 million in 2018.[70] The Post noted that India became the second-largest mobile phone market in 2018, and highlighted mobile data plans in India, noting 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.[70] Vice reported that T-Series' success lay in focusing on regional audiences and having no competitors in online music in India.[116]


Difference in subscribers between PewDiePie and T-Series from November 2018 to April 2019

Many supporters of PewDiePie referred to T-Series as "T-Gay". Critics of Felix had started to pick up on this and used this as an argument to support allegations towards PewDiePie spreading hate speech online. The phrase "T-gay" grew so widespread and out of control that Felix requested his viewers to refer to the channel as "T-bad" to avoid allegations of homophobia and consequences against on his channel.[117]

In the later phases of the competition, T-Series and PewDiePie fans began using comical and/or distasteful names to refer to the other channel. "FewMinuteSeries," "T-ax evaders", "T-rash", "T-oilet" against T-Series, and "FewDayPie," "PoopiePie," and "ReactionPie" against PewDiePie.

The race between these two channels was a major contributor towards YouTube's decision to abbreviate public subscriber count APIs to the nearest round number. For example, if a channel had 56,491,603 subscribers, it was rounded to 56,400,000 subscribers and would only update after a milestone.

The race eventually led to the creation of a large statistics community on YouTube, where people track prominent creators' view, like, and subscriber counts, and watch other channels race each other. This community took a major blow when YouTube abbreviated subscriber counts in late 2019.

MrBeast, the initial activist for PewDiePie, passed him in subscribers in November 2022.[118]


As of 2024, a significant lead is now held by T-Series with over double the amount of subscribers of PewDiePie has. Felix has since retired from YouTube as a full-time job and uploads on an irregular basis.

T-Series became the first channel to reach 100 million subscribers on 29 May 2019.[119] PewDiePie reached this milestone a few months later on 25 August 2019.[120]

As of April 2024, T-Series currently remains the most subscribed YouTube channel with 264 million subscribers. Meanwhile, PewDiePie is currently the eighth most subscribed YouTube channel with ~111,150,000 subscribers,[a] having been passed by MrBeast, Cocomelon, SET India, Kids Diana Show, Like Nastya and Vlad and Niki.[121]

On 5 August 2023, MrBeast posted on his Twitter page "I'm doing this for Pewdiepie",[122] - while showing the subcounts between his channel and T-Series' channel. The Indian Express reported that this comment would renew "the battle for the most-subscribed YouTube channel".[123] As of 22 April 2024, T-Series’ lead over the MrBeast channel is at roughly 10 million subscribers and shrinking, with MrBeast projected to surpass T-Series in June 2024.[124] While public subscriber counts are now defunct (due to YouTube's contraction of subscriber counts in August 2019), many streams exist to estimate both channels' most likely subscriber count and to showcase the "race" between the two channels.


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