Finally, the dumbest race on the internet is over. Following countless stunts over the last several months, varying wildly from the profoundly stupid to occasionally very funny, the king of YouTube is now an Indian music corporation.
While T-Series has only in the last year become one of the largest channels on YouTube, the network has had a substantial presence for the better part of a decade. It was the second Indian YouTube channel to surpass 1 billion views in mid 2013, and by the start of 2017 the channel became most viewed YouTube channel on the network. Along with the views on its main channel, T-Series also has a multi-channel network that consists of some of Indian's most subscribed YouTube channels.
Given the burgeoning middle class in India, a country with more than 1.3 billion people, and their appetite for content online, it was really only a matter of time. And before the end of March, the T-Series network - which has been growing subscribers at a faster rate than the Swedish YouTuber for some time - finally took the crown. Earlier this morning, Felix Kjellberg uploaded a video congratulating the Indian network.
The lead had been changing hands for most of March, with routine YouTube internal audits affecting the subscriber counts of both channels. It wasn't until the weekend that T-Series had gained enough of a lead to prevent Kjellberg's subscriber count from overtaking once more. The latter has begun to claw some of that lead back in the last 12 hours, as can be seen from rolling averages and counts tracked through Socialblade's livestream (which has almost 900 concurrents).
Despite how absurd some of the attempts were by fans and fellow YouTubers to keep the race going, there was an intriguing undercurrent to the defence of Kjellberg's crown. For a lot of YouTubers and the community surrounding them, the principle of a company like T-Series rising to the top by using the content of other artists was an anathema to what YouTube was originally founded on. YouTube is meant to be a self-made community, and it was that spirit many fans tried to defend. They wanted their hero to be an individual icon, not a corporation.
Of course, individuals like Kjellberg are basically self-made corporations at this point, with armies of of editors, illustrators, designers and other support staff. And that's not to mention the broader YouTube landscape, filled with multi-channel networks and endless cycles of cross-promotions. And that's ultimately what happened between T-Series and Kjellberg: both channels ended up benefiting enormously, with both channels now sporting more than 183 million subscribers between them. The monthly views for Kjellberg in particular has shot up enormously, with over 500 million monthly views for December 2018 and over 420 million views in January this year, all of which translates into an enormous amount of ad revenue.
Having lost the lead for a few days, it's likely that fans will engage in another surge to support Kjellberg's channel. Both channels will probably keep racing to the 100 million subscriber count, probably resulting in more fliers, newspaper ads, billboards, hacking attempts, and other gags designed to counteract T-Series' insatiable growth. All of these, of course, will then be promoted in videos of their own, creating an endless cycle that will continue to engulf the world's largest video platform.