PewDiePie hit 50m YouTube subscribers over night. Will the Swedish video creator make good on his word and delete his YouTube channel? What next asks Scott Guthrie

UPDATED at 17:11 GMT 09 Dec 2016

PewDiePie, the Swedish eGamer and video ranter, threatened last week to close down his YouTube channel once it hit 50m subcribers.

The online influencer crossed this insanely high threshold over night. So, will he make good on his pledge to delete the channel?

YES according to his Twitter feed:

But how did he get here and where to next?

Felix Avrid Ulf Kjellberg (A.K.A PewDiePie) joined YouTube six-and-a-half years ago. Since then he’s:

  • Uploaded over 3,000 videos
  • Gained 49.8 million YouTube subscribers
  • Generated 13.8 billion video views
  • Average 2.6 million video views per day

He’s also topped the Forbes Rich List for top-paid YouTube stars for the second year reportedly amassing an income of $15m for the 12-months to June 2016.

In the last few months there has been increasing tension between YouTube creators and YouTube management at Google, however.

YouTube incensed many vloggers in September by enforcing its advertiser-friendly content guidelinesCreators argued at the time that the Google-owned video-sharing platform was starving them of revenue by demonetizing content which doesn’t comply with the guidelines.

More recently vloggers have moaned of YouTube removing subscribers to channels even though the viewer hasn’t unsubscribed.

There have been reports of subscribed-to videos  not appearing to viewers. And, an over promotion of recommended videos. It seems that YouTube is increasingly following the Amazon online retailer’s approach by serving up recommended or suggested content to view rather than more videos from the subscribed-to channel.

PewDiePie noticed that his newer videos were not showing up in the recommended section of the video platform. This is financially troublesome as, historically, 30% of his views were generated from the suggested view column.

What next for PewDiePie and his video content?

Well, a week ago today he said he would delete his channel but wouldn’t be leaving YouTube. Instead he was considering starting a new channel on the platform from scratch.

However, a few days later PewDiePie posted another vlog where he warned: “Don’t be surprised if personalities start leaving YouTube.”

His gripe: a sense that YouTube executives don’t understand the essence of video creators.

PewDiePie options for video creation

1Do nothing. Keep the channel. Explain the last week away to subscribers as an experiment in click-bait and an exercise of personal amusement. The most likely option.

2Cut the channel off and start up another YouTube channel from scratch. Over the last year his video content has increasingly mutated from eGaming into piece-to-camera ranting. This may be an opportunity to forge clear lines between his eGaming content and his video ranting content. The house-keeping, spring clean option.
3Buy an island somewhere with his reported $30m and retire. The least likely option of the four.

4Move to a new video-sharing platform. There are pros and cons for this route. The cons are that he already runs a multichannel network (MCN) within an MCN. Revelmode was launched in January 2016. It is part of the Disney-owned Maker Studio MCN. The pros? He has a huge fan base which would sit neatly within a YouTube rival’s ambition to become the premier video-sharing platform. This is the most interesting option.

95% of 16-34 year-olds watch video clips online each month.  44% of internet users watch vlogs on a monthly basis.

YouTube is increasingly coming under fire from other platforms pushing video.

Over half of Facebook active users watch videos on the network. The social media monolith is making moves to dominate live streaming video content, too. It is attempting to woo Snapchat, and YouTube influencers to experiment with its Live Video feature.

Linkedin, too, has embraced video for its influencers. The professional network has launched 30-second videos from influencers to capitalise on the B2B market

What do you think will happen next?

UPDATE at 17:11 GMT 09 Dec 2016

PewDiePie took option 1 of the 4 options above posting this short vlog a little while ago:

Of the four options this was always the most likely – but also the least exciting. Stay tuned.

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Scott Guthrie is a professional adviser within the influencer marketing industry. He is an event speaker, university guest lecturer, media commentator on influencer marketing and active blogger. He works with brands, agencies and platforms to achieve meaningful results from influencer marketing. That tells you something about him but it's not giving you a lot of detail, is it? So, read more here.

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