Last week the second biggest man on the internet, PewDiePie (real name Felix Kjellberg), announced he was ‘taking a break’ from YouTube. Some may see this as inevitable, after all he’s been on the platform for just under 10 years, but I think that is not the real reason. I think PewDiePie recognises that YouTube has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. Deep down he sees YouTube going in a different direction in 2020 and decided that now was the time to say goodbye, he says he’ll be back, but I wonder if he’ll still be able to recognise YouTube when he does. Let’s break down what his exit means for YouTube and how the platform is likely to change while he’s away…
What PewdiePie’s departure means for YouTube
This news is pretty big for a handful reasons. The first is that PewDiePie is YouTube’s biggest star if you’re just going by subscriber count numbers, we’re talking about 102 million subscribers. It’s unlikely that PewDiePie’s subscribers are only exclusively subscribed to PewDiePie but I’m sure his lack of presence will surely be felt. He was a big draw for a lot of people and his videos have clocked up millions upon millions of views consistently for years. In fact, PewdiePie hasn’t had a video not reach 1 million views since 17th February 2013. That’s nearly 7 years ago. His consistency is very impressive to say the least.
So will he lose a lot of his subscribers? He probably won’t lose many but, as any YouTuber who’s gone on a break before will tell you, it’s hard to regain attention once you’ve been gone for a while and so breaks can really harm a Youtuber’s momentum. This will no doubt be reflected in PewDiePie’s view counts, when, or should I say if, he ever comes back.
PewDiePie’s departure will no doubt be seen by some Youtubers as a great opportunity to take the spotlight while he’s away. With his Youtube subscriber count going nowhere but down for the foreseeable future this could be the opportunity for another Youtuber to push hard and try and overtake him. It wouldn’t be a bad idea either, no doubt PewDiePie’s fans will be looking for somebody else to take his place and provide them with similar content. If you have a Youtube channel, I would recommend taking a look at some of his videos and think about how you could potentially fill the huge gap that has just emerged in the market of YouTube attention.
Why is he leaving?
This is an important question to answer as I think him deciding to leave is symbolic of how Youtube is changing and will continue to change in 2020. It’s a difficult one to answer as, in his farewell video, PewDiePie didn’t really give much detail as to why he was leaving other than saying ‘it’s something I need to do’. I think deep down PewDiePie knows that Youtube has slowly been drifting away from promoting content like his. He’s suffered some media controversy which has seen him go from Youtube’s poster-boy to a creator that YouTube has gradually tried to distance themselves from.
I think PewDiePie sees Youtube as being very different from when he started. Now it’s a lot more careful about it’s corporate image and how advertisers view the content on its platform. In September last year it got into a lot of trouble with FTC (Financial Trade Commission) in America for violating children’s privacy law. YouTube now recognises that it has a large young audience which is needs to take into account as well looking to expand it’s business side of things – specifically advertisements and exclusive media content such TV shows and films. YouTube, of course, still has a large amount of fans from the days when it wasn’t so concerned with corporate image however in recent years it’s made it very clear which audiences, or should I say shareholders, it prioritises over others.
I think that in 2020 we’ll see even stricter rules from YouTube on what content is deemed child-friendly and ad-friendly. They’ve already begun to strip a lot of channels with premium ad status. Time will tell how strict they go but expect a lot more videos to be stamped with the dreaded orange de-monetised badge. Who knows how big an impact this will have long-term but either way I don’t think it will be good for Youtubers who create content similar to PewDiePie.
So if PewDiePie ever returns, will he still recognise YouTube?
Who knows, but one for things for sure, it definitely won’t be the same.
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