The Great Subscriber War / Subscribe to PewDiePie
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The Great Subscriber War, also known as the Subscribe to PewDiePie movement, refers to an ongoing campaign to keep PewDiePie as the most subscribed-to channel on YouTube. The campaign started in 2018 after it was predicted that T-Series, a channel which produces Bollywood music videos, would soon surpass PewDiePie. As of December 7th, 2018, the campaign has been successful at keeping PewDiePie the most popular channel on YouTube.
On August 30th, 2018, Social Blade released a graph tracking the subscribers counts of PewDiePie T-Series, suggesting that if both subscriber counts rose at the same rate, T-Series would overtake PewDiePie by October (the graph as it looks on December 7th, 2018 shown below).
On October 5th, 2018, PewDiePIe responded to the channel's encroachment on his subscriber count with a satirical diss track titled "bitch lasagna" (shown below).
A coordinated effort by PewDiePie's fans has kept him number 1 as of October 30th, 2018. One of those efforts was from YouTuber MrBeast, who bought billboards to encourage people to subscribe to PewDiePie. His video about the stunt gained over 9 million views (shown below).
On October 21st, PewDiePie posted a Q&A video in which he answered a question about T-Series (shown below). He responded, "It's already a heated subject now that a company is taking over. Everyone is going on the rant, 'YouTube is not really becoming YouTube' and, 'it's never going to be the same now'… 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."
69 Million Subscribers Milestone
On November 6th, 2018, PewDiePie published a video titled "We made history!!!!" in which he announced that his channel had reached 69 million subscribers before T-Series (shown below).
On November 30th, 2018, Grandayy tweeted a photograph of a printed messaged urging readers to unsubscribe from T-Series, subscribe to PewDiPie and use the hashtag "#SavePewDiePie" on social media. Within 72 hours, the tweet gained over 59,100 likes and 10,000 retweets.
Apparently someone is hacking unsecure work printers all over the world and printing this message. This is not a meme. pic.twitter.com/iBGyetEYVI— Dr Grandayy (@grandayy) November 30, 2018
That day, Twitter user @HackerGiraffe claimed responsibility for the hack, calling for viewers to "spread the word" about printer security vulnerabilities. According to The Verge, TheHackerGiraffe discovered 800,000 vulnerable printers while browsing the internet-connected device repoistory Shodan.io, and sent the message to only 50,000 of them.
“People underestimate how easy a malicious hacker could have used a vulnerability like this to cause major havoc. Hackers could have stolen files, installed malware, caused physical damage to the printers and even use the printer as a foothold into the inner network. The most horrifying part is: I never considered hacking printers before, the whole learning, downloading and scripting process took no more than 30 minutes.”
On December 2nd, PewDiePie uploaded a video titled "Pewdiepie Printer Hack," which discussed the printer exploit (shown below). Within 24 hours, the video accumulated upwards of 7.6 million views and 73,700 comments.
T-Series Surpasses PewDiePie
On February 22nd, 2019, YouTuber Jay Burton uploaded a recording of a live subscriber count showing T-Series briefly surpass PewDiePie for approximately eight minutes (shown below). On February 24th, Mashable published an article titled "T-Series finally surpassed PewDiePie in YouTube subscribers and barely anyone noticed," which included a statement from a SocialBlade spokesperson who confirmed that T-Series overtook PewDiePie a max of 2000 subs for the short period of time.
2019 Christchurch Mosque Shootings
On March 15th, 2019, shootings took place at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand. The attacks were livestreamed by the shooter on Facebook, which showed him entering a mosque armed with a shotgun, before switching to an assault rifle and shooting the people inside. During the livestream, the shooter can be heard saying "subscribe to PewDiePie" (shown below).
I can hear them writing the headlines right now. pic.twitter.com/y4z6ata97D— Mister AntiBully (@MisterAntiBully) March 15, 2019
That day, PewDiePie tweeted that he was "absolutely sickened" that the shooter uttered his name (shown below). Within 24 hours, the tweet gathered upwards of 400,000 likes and 98,000 retweets.
March 20th Overtaking
On March 20th, 2019, T-Series overtook and gained a significant lead over PewDiePie in the number of subscribers. As of March 21st, 6:14am EST, the Indian channel maintained an over 32,000 subscriber lead; however, as of March 21st, 11:00am EST, the lead decreased to less than 11,000.
In a Reddit discussion of the overtaking, users suggested that two factors contributed towards the rapid surge in T-Series subscriber number, including the ongoing Holi festival in India and the March 20th release of a trailer for the upcoming Bollywood film PM Narenda Modi.
On March 21st, multiple memes related to the overtaking were posted in /r/PewdiepieSubmissions subreddit.
On March 31st, 2019, T-Series lead over PewDiePie reached 100,000 subscribers. On the same day, PewDiePie released song "Congratulations", recorded together with Roomie and David Brown, in which he rapped about T-Series becoming the most subscribed YouTube channel, ironically congratulated the corporation by poking fun at the reasons behind the channel's success and mentioning various controversies linked to it. Near the end of the video, PewDiePie addressed his fans, thanking them for support.
So this is it, thanks for sticking with my channel ever since I was a nobody screaming at barrels. Yeah, this is it, it's been an adventure, it's the end of the reign of Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg. Through all the change and controversy you've been by my side, there's no army in the world I'd rather give me watch time. It's been a wild ride, so while I can still be heard, here's one last brofist from the number one in the world.
Following the release, multiple memes referring the release of the song were posted on /r/PewdiepieSubmissions subreddit.
As of 7:30am, April 1st, 2019, subscriber difference between the channels decreased to below 8,000, signalling potential continuation of the "subscriber war". On the same day, PewDiePie took the lead once again, which subsequently peaked at 500,000 subscribers on April 8th, 2019.
Diss Tracks Block, Pepsi Support, T-Series Establishes 100,000 Lead
On April 8th, 2019, the Delhi High Court reportedly issued a ruling to block diss tracks "Bitch Lasagna" and "Congratulations" on YouTube in India as "defamotary and disparaging", following alleged legal action T-Series took against PewDiePie in India. On April 11th, 2019, "Bitch Lasagna" and "Congratulations" were made unavailable in India and their commentaries disabled.
no wordshttps://t.co/J51FofktL5— Sive 1 (@sivemorten) April 11, 2019
On April 14th, 2019, T-Series once again established a lead over PewDiePie, with the lead exceeding 100,000 subscribers on April 15th, 2019.
On April 14th, 2019, Twitter user @saturdaygameryt speculated that the rapid surge in the number of T-Series subscribers could be explained with ongoing holidays in India and T-Series releasing a Pepsi-sponsored music video, released on April 7th, which gained over 68.4 million views in ten days.
On April 15th, 2019, Redditor AlexanderBOIII posted a screenshot of the tweet to /r/PewdiepieSubmissions subreddit (shown below, top left), where it gained over 9,400 upvotes in two days. In the following days, multiple posts criticizing Pepsi and advocating its competitors on the soft drink market were posted to the subreddit.
End of Subscribe to PewDiePie Movement
On April 26th, 2019, T-Series established a 1 million subscriber lead over PewDiePie.
On April 28th, 2019, PewDiePie addressed his viewers in an announcement video, calling to stop attempts to surpass the T-Series channel and bring an end to the Subscribe to PewDiePie meme. In his video, he recalled both positive and negative impacts of the online campaign, thanked his subscribers for the support and provided several reasons behind calling off the "Subscribe to PewDiePie" movement.
This was meant to be fun. But it's clearly not fun anymore, it's clearly gone too far.
On the same day, /r/PewdiepieSubmissions subreddit moderator /sloth_on_meth created a thread calling for the subreddit subscribers to use #ThankYouPewdiepie hastag to express their gratitude and support towards the YouTuber. In the following hours, multiple posts containing the hashtag were posted on Reddit, Twitter and other platforms (examples shown below).
T-Series Reaches 100 Million Subscribers
At approximately 5:50am EST, May 29th, 2019, T-Series became the first YouTube channel to reach 100 million subscribers. On the same day, T-Series announced the achievement in the company social media accounts, also updating the YouTube banner.
The news was covered by several notable news outlets, including LADbible and Independent.
Times Square Billboard
On November 30th, 2018, YouTuber Justin Roberts posted a video in which he showed himself purchasing a $1 million billboard in Times Square for PewDiePie.
On December 2nd, Markiplier hosted a stream titled "I Literally Won't Shut Up Until You Subscribe To PewDiePie," gaining over 3.3 million views and 46,000 comments.
JackSepticEye also posted a tweet encouraging his followers to subscribe to PewDiePie, gaining over 28,000 retweets (shown below, left). Logan Paul also encouraged his followers to subscribe to PewDiePie (shown below, right).
PewDiePie responded to all the support the following day thanking Markiplier and others. He also celebrated gaining over 540,000 subscribers the day of the stream. He also announced that he had created a fundraiser for a charity called CRY which focuses on making a better future for kids in India.
FlareTV is hosting a stream comparing the subscriber counts of both accounts (shown below).
Wall Street Journal Hack
On December 17th, 2018, the frontpage of the Wall Street Journal was compromised by hackers who posted a fake apology to PewDiePie for "misrepresentation by our journalists" and called for viewers to subscribe to PewDiePie to "beat Tseries to 80 million" (shown below).
Middle School Classroom Video
On December 15th, 2018, Twitter user @Rissian tweeted a video containing audio of a history teacher at the Hamilton International Middle School in Seattle, Washington telling students that sharing PewDiePie videos was "promoting ignorance, racism, genocide, anti-Semitism" and that students could get in legal trouble for sharing PewDiePie's content (shown below). Within five days, the video gained over 44,000 retweets and 12,500 likes.
Our history teacher told us that by supporting— Rissian (@Rissian9) December 15, 2018
pewdiepie</a>, we are supporting anti-Semitism, racism, ignorance, etc. He also said that <a href="https://twitter.com/WSJ?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">WSJ is a very reputable news source. How ignorant can you get? The political arguments are more and more ironic daily.
ChrisRayGun</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/benshapiro?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">benshapiro pic.twitter.com/qg6BtrOhek
That day, PewDiePie retweeted the video along with the message "RT if you're against everything this dumbass teacher is saying." Also on December 18th, Twitter user @DewsNewz tweeted a video of Alex Jones calling for viewers to support PewDiePie against T-Series (shown below).
Did you hear about YouTube’s plan to ban PewDiePie and the subscriber war with T-Series?— Rob Dew (@DewsNewz) December 18, 2018
Subscribe link herehttps://t.co/bMavne8020#pewdiepie #pewdiepievstseries pic.twitter.com/kEAe6sYBOM
On December 19th, the news site KUOW published an article about the incident, reporting that the controversy began when posters urging people to subscribe to PewDiePie's channel began appearing around the school. Additionally, the article contained a statement by Hamilton Principal Dorian Manza, who revealed the school contacted the Seattle Police Department over the controversy:
"As time went on, the post was retweeted by many others and as sometimes happens in social media, negative comments and language were included. While the language did not include a direct threat, out of an abundance of caution, we responded by contacting the Seattle Police Department."
On December 20th, 2018, PewDiePie uploaded a video titled "WSJ apologizes to PewDiePie!", which discussed the video and the Wall Street Journal hack (shown below).
In late December 2018, some Chromecast users began seeing their televisions switch to a video uploaded by hackers HackerGiraffe and j3ws3r, alerting viewers that their devices were "exposed to the public internet" and urging them to subscribe to PewDiePie and turn off Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) on their Wi-Fi router. The video, which included audio from the PewDiePie diss track "Bitch Lasanga," has since been removed.
On December 31st, Redditor Killimansorrow submitted a post about the hack to /r/Chromecast, to which an account named GraceFromGoogle identified as a "Google community manager" replied that the hack was not a vulnerability in the Chromecast device, but a vulnerability in the UPnP router feature. On January 2nd, 2019, PewDiePie tweeted about the hack, stating that @hackergiraffe was "doing gods work" (shown below).
YouTube Gaming Overtake and Another Wave of Support
On January 18th, 2019, PewDiePie subscriber count exceeded the number of subscribers of YouTube's auto-generated Gaming channel, leaving him behind only YouTube's Music channel.
On January 20th, 2019, the subscriber gap between PewDiePie and T-Series dropped below 100,000 mark. On the same day animator Andrei Terbea posted a video titled "Why Pewdiepie NEEDS To Hit 100 Million Subs!" which received over 1.2 million views in three days (shown below, left). On January 21st, YouTuber VoiceoverPete held a live broadcast in which he urged his viewers to subscribed to PewDiePie (shown below, center). On the same day, eighth most subscribed YouTube channel Dude Perfect called for its viewers to subscribe to PewDiePie during a live broadcast (shown below, right). The stream and its recording gained over 6 million views in two days.
On January 22nd, 2019, PewDiePie posted the video "This is the end…" in which he reviewed several memes about the decreasing subscriber gap which were submitted to /r/PewdiepieSubmissions subreddit.
As of January 22nd, 2019, the subscriber gap between the channels increased to over 270,000 people. The decrease and the subsequent increase of the gap sparked an influx of related memes on /r/PewdiepieSubmissions subreddit.
MrBeast's Super Bowl LIII Stunt
On February 3rd, 2019, Keemstar tweeted a photograph of MrBeast standing with several other men wearing T-shirts that spelled out "Sub 2 PewDiePie" while attending "Super Bowl LIII": (shown below).
Super Bowl Sunday Livestreams
On February 3rd, PewDiePie launched a livestream in response to combat the tightening subscriber gap with T-Series (shown below).
That day, Keemstar held an "emergency broadcast" livestream to support PewDiePie (shown below, left). Meanwhile, Voiceoverpete held a similar livestream (shown below, right).
Plan U refers to a coordinated tactic by Indian YouTube users to help T-Series overtake PewDiePie. On February 23rd, 2018, Indian YouTuber Sirf True posted a video urging his viewers to temporarily unsubscribe from T-Series and subscribe to PewDiePie in order to create a false feeling of safety, and then massively resubscribe back at the time when the sub gap is low. The video gained over 36,000 views in ten days. On February 22nd, T-Series surpassed PewDiePie for the first time, with PewDiePie regaining the spot 8 minutes later. The execution of the initial plan failed to achieve the set goal, with Sirf True posting an update video on March 2nd, 2019.
On March 2nd, Redditor hydiacpewds posted a PSA on /r/PewdiepieSubmissions subreddit, notifying other subscribers of the tactic and notifying that another attack would happen on March 3rd. The post gained over 21,500 upvotes in one day.
On the same day, Redditor mypeepeehurts64 posted a thread dedicated to Plan U to /r/PewdiepieSolutions subreddt. On March 3rd, 2019, Sirf True posted a video in attempt to coordinate another Plan U attack.
On March 27th, T-Series gained and maintained the top spot, until April 1st by a fluctuating, but overall growing, margin.
Jake Paul Infiltrates T-Series Headquarters
On April 23rd, YouTuber Jake Paul uploaded a video entitled "I SPENT 24HRS INSIDE T-SERIES HEADQUARTERS!" (shown below). The video featured Paul in a subscribe to PewDiePie t-shirt traveling to India and, essentially, touring the T-Series college next to headquarters. The video gained 1.2 million views and 64,000 likes in two days. The video attempted to boost PewDiePie subscribers.
100 Million Subscribers
On August 24th, 2019, PewDiePie reached over 100 million subscribers on YouTube (shown below).
Shortly after, YouTuber VoiceOverPete posted a video celebrating the milestone (shown below, left). Meanwhile, YouTube Flowmotion posted a video discussing the meaning behind reaching 100 million subscribers on the platform (shown below, right).
That evening, the official YouTube Twitter account posted a congratulatory message along with a short video timeline of PewDiePie's history on the platform (shown below).
Married to— YouTube (@YouTube) August 25, 2019
marziapie</a> 💍<br>Revived our love of Minecraft ⛏️<br>Reached 100 million subscribers on YouTube ✔️<br>What a month to celebrate and congratulate <a href="https://twitter.com/pewdiepie?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">PewDiePie 👊 pic.twitter.com/4rGuNDDwyx
 Social Blade – Compare T-Series and PewDiePie
 Twitter via Wayback Machine – @pewdiepie
 KUOW – Why Alex Jones, right-wing conspiracy theorist, is obsessed with this Seattle school
 Reddit – /r/Chromecast
 Twitter – @pewdiepie
 Reddit – So guys we did it.
 Reddit – The gap is officially under 100 k
 Twitter – @Keemstar's Tweet
 YouTube – Plan u for T-series | Plan u से हम एक ही बार मे जीत सकते है | T-series vs PewDiePie
 YouTube – Tseries Plan U Result | Plan U अकेले जिता सकता है दोस्तो आज या कल में | Tseries vs PewDiePie
 Reddit – ❗️❗️⚠️WARNING⚠️❗️❗️ T GAY IS UPTO SOMETHIN’
 Reddit – The Significance of Plan U
 YouTube – T-series will surpass pewdiepie today | Plan u में बस ये गलती मत करो जीत पक्की |PewDiepie vs Tseries
 Reddit – 🚨RED ALERT🚨 🚨RED ALERT🚨. SUBGAP HAS DROPPED BELOW 10000!!! ACT NOW! 🚨RED ALERT🚨 🚨RED ALERT🚨 get #subscribetopewdiepie trending!
 Reddit – The_tenebrous_knight's Comment
 Reddit – McGarrettFive0's Comment
 YouTube – PM Narendra Modi | Official Trailer | Vivek Oberoi | Omung Kumar | Sandip Ssingh | 5th April
 The National –
India's T-Series overtakes PewDiePie as the most subscribed YouTube channel
 Reddit – Congratulations, T Gay
 YouTube – Congratulations
 Twitter – chaotic evil
 Wikipedia – PewDiePie vs T-Series
 The High Court of Delhi – 08.04.2019 Order
 IPRMENTLAW – DELHI HIGH COURT FINDS PEWDIEPIE’S SONGS RACIST AND DEROGATORY; DIRECTS IMMEDIATE REMOVAL FROM YOUTUBE [READ ORDER]
 Reddit – Bitch Lasagna and Congratulations have been blocked in India and comments are disabled 😡😡 T-Series filing take down for defamation and derogatory comments.
 Twitter – @sivemorten's Tweet
 Twitter – @saturdaygameryt
 Reddit – Pepsi = Bad.
 Dexerto- Jake Paul Infiltration
 YouTube – Ending the Subscribe to Pewdiepie Meme
 Reddit – The end of the sub war: #THANKYOUPEWDIEPIE
 Twitter – @TSeries' Tweet
 LADbible – T-Series Beats PewDiePie To 100 Million YouTube Subscribers
 Independent – T-SERIES BECOMES FIRST YOUTUBE CHANNEL TO PASS 100 MILLION SUBSCRIBERS
Dec 07, 2018 at 02:02PM EST
Apr 29, 2019 at 09:30AM EDT
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