A Bollywood music label is on track to dethrone the king of YouTube this weekend.
Sweden’s Felix Kjellberg— or “PewDiePie” — has had more subscribers than any other channel on the video streaming platform since 2013.
But India’s biggest music company, T-Series, has been catching up and is set to take the top spot by Sunday, according to new data from analytics firm Tubular Labs.
It’s the latest example of India’s rapidly growing clout on the internet. More than 500 million Indians are online, according to official data, a number that’s expected to rise rapidly in the coming years.
By Friday afternoon in New Delhi, T-Series had 67,188,815 subscribers, about 170,000 fewer than PewDiePie, who started out as a video game commentator but has now branched out into other areas like comedy and internet culture.
The record label — which produces music for India’s biggest film industry, as well as independent artists — has been adding new subscribers much faster than the Swedish YouTube star.
T-Series has gained an average of 90,000 subscribers a day more than PewDiePie this month, Tubular Labs said. Over the past year, the music company has gained 40.3 million subscribers, while PewDiePie has added 9.7 million.
T-Series, which launched its YouTube channel in 2006, already dominates the platform’s viewing numbers, according to Tubular Labs data. The label’s videos have been viewed more than 51 billion times so far, compared with about 19 billion for PewDiePie.
The record label’s subscriber base has been growing steadily too, but it “exploded in popularity over the past couple of years,” Tubular Labs said in a blog post. “T-Series … has built up a solid following by uploading a deluge of music videos and film trailers to their YouTube channel,” the firm said.
Its rapid rise reflects the popularity of videos among Indian internet users.
“India is now a video-first internet,” said Rajan Anandan, India head at Google (GOOGL), YouTube’s owner. “Video is a massively huge driving force,” he said in an interview with CNN this month.
PewDiePie: ‘I don’t really care’
Kjellberg addressed the threat to his five-year reign in a video he posted earlier this week.
“I don’t really care about T-Series,” he said. “But I think if YouTube does shift in a way where it does feel more corporate … something else will take its place.”
YouTube has made Kjellberg a wealthy man: Forbes estimates he made $12 million in the year ended June 2017. But he has run into trouble with Google.
Last year, he was accused of using Nazi imagery and anti-Semitic jokes in some of his videos. The company removed him from its “Google Preferred” service and canceled the second season of a show Kjellberg was producing for its subscription service, YouTube Red.
Kjellberg responded in a blog post at the time, saying he does not support “any kind of hateful attitudes.”
“I think of the content that I create as entertainment, and not a place for any serious political commentary,” he said. “Though this was not my intention, I understand that these jokes were ultimately offensive.”