PewDiePie now has more than 43 million subscribers on YouTube. Already the most popular channel on the whole site, Swedish gamer Felix Kjellberg isn’t about to lose that title any time soon – but he also now represents a growing population of what was once a rare breed: YouTube millionaires.
Those words would have been meaningless 10 years ago, and perhaps unthinkable even five years ago, but as Google’s streaming giant expands its community, more and more vloggers are building sizeable followings. According to analytics site VidStatsx, there are now more than 2,000 channels with at least a million subscribers.
Of course, subscribers are a debatable metric of success – there is no guarantee that all of a channel’s subscribers are still active users, nor that they will watch every new video immediately after its release. There are even – whisper it – fake subscribers that, several years ago, could be bought quite easily online. Nonetheless, the figure represents just how quickly YouTube has grown in the decade since its launch; TubeFilter notes that in 2010, only five channels had one million subscribers, with more than 800 channels reaching that milestone in the last year alone.
PewDiePie is emblematic of that rapid rise to potential Internet stardom: TubeFilter’s smart number-crunching reveals that the gamer had 42 million subscribers on 6th February, which means that in the subsequent 50 days, he added a million new followers, the equivalent of 20,000 per day or 833 per hour. That’s one every 4.32 seconds. What boggles the mind is that this is slower than his rate of growth in March 2014, when he was adding more than 70,000 new followers a day.
Even with a slight slowdown, though, PewDiePie is a figurehead at the front of YouTube’s ship. And with the site now regularly launching its own original content, the launch of VEVO building to an increasingly large library of music videos (despite ongoing tensions with the wider industry), and every late night chat show in America clamouring to join the ranks of popular corporate channels, YouTube shows no sign of slowing down.