How PewDiePie Made It to the Top of YouTube's Subscriber Throne [Video]

How PewDiePie Made It to the Top of YouTubes Subscriber Throne [Video]

So if you are of a certain age, you've probably wondered why YouTube channels Smosh and PewDiePie got mega-popular and hit the 1 & 2 spots so quickly.  Remember, Smosh has been around since the early days of YouTube, but their channel only recently saw huge jumps in subscribers.  PewDiePie has been around since 2010, but he also saw an unusual acceleration of subscriber love fairly recently.  The Game Theorists did a video on July 20 (when PewDiePie was a measly 2nd on the charts) that maps out, perfectly, how this rise occurred.

This is not a sarcastic, "YouTubey" look (well, some of it is YouTubey, but it's more informative than obnoxious).  This really delves into the heart of the mater.

The Game Theorists' 'How PewDiePie Conquered YouTube'

As the video shows, and what we've talked about before, YouTube will push certain channels that show strength on their own.  PewDiePie has been uploading multiple videos, that his target audience loves, that are 15-20 minutes in length.  Remember when the YouTube algorithm started favoring watch time?  Not coincidentally, already-popular channels like PewDiePie and Smosh (which also added to their arsenal with Smosh Games), which release tons of videos throughout the week, started dominating this new watch-time emphasis.  YouTube sees the watch time, pushes the channels, the channels get more views, subscribers, and watch time, which in turn leads to YouTube noticing this and pushing it more, and so on.

With PewDiePie, there's a pretty much unseen extra push he's been getting.  Since he's considered "international" and speaks English, he first got pushed in his native Sweden (because YouTube starts local first) and all of the English-speaking countries.  A move to Italy kickstarted some more pushing to even more places.

It can be discouraging sometimes to see the top 10 YouTube channels and wonder if there's any room for you.  First, you don't need to be in the top 10 to be successful, and there are a ton of "smart" channels getting millions of subscribers, and you don't even need that many to be a success.  Second, "lowest common denominator" might rule YouTube, but it isn't the only thing thriving.  Of course, disregard what I just said if you want to make videos like them.  Have at it.

PewDiePie and Smosh show YouTube popularity on steroids.  They have the perfect content to reach millions of young people.  But the way they've done it is a good blueprint to follow when seeking out YouTube success: Get people to watch, get them coming back every week (or every day), and solving that algorithm takes care of itself.


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Posted in YouTube Marketing
About the Author -
Chris Atkinson joined ReelSEO in 2011. He is a longtime film and television reviewer, and has almost two decades of experience in the theater industry. He also writes on his personal blog - http://nymoviereviews.com. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • Ken Rock

    Thanks. Can you explain more about the "local youtube"? Maybe a blog post with strategy to this would be perfect. Cheers!

    • Pewd’sG4meR BROFIST!

      brother localy means that if you live in US,or In Germany it doesn't matter if your video gets little more watch time(because youtube changed rules now watch time matter the most and when you get enough watch time you get promoted by youtube itself)this means that youtube will promote your video in your country where you uploaded your video soo if you upload in germany youtube will promote you in germany ok ;) IF THIS IS HELPFULL enough let me know ;)

  • Caius Madison

    Basically, location push means if you live in an area, and upload a video, then that video is popular, they promote there. Pewd moved, several times, creating several markets in which he was locally pushed by YT,. This means wherever you begin getting pushed, doesn't stop because you move, it only increases your local audience base and eventually you will be considered international if successful in enough markets. Of course, his speaking several languages means he unlocked non local markets from the start, which means get Rosetta Stone and then get in front of your webcam and game on!