Why PewDiePie is YouTube’s Most Popular Channel

Source: PewDiePie via YouTube

Source: PewDiePie via YouTube

If you’re older than 30, you might not know who PewDiePie is, but to say he’s popular would be a dramatic understatement. With over 33 million subscribers at the time of this writing, he operates the most popular channel on all of YouTube.

Who is he and what does he do?

PewDiePie is the nickname of Felix Kjellberg, a 25-year-old Swede who started his YouTube channel in 2010. He’s known for his Let’s Play videos, which consist of nothing more than him playing video games and commenting on the action as he plays.

So everyone loves him?

Far from it. PewDiePie is not universally adored, and you don’t have to look hard to find people complaining about him. The great divide in opinion on PewDiePie seems to be largely generational. Older people are less likely to subscribe to YouTube channels, or to pay much credence to YouTube personalities in general. Many younger viewers, on the other hand, see him as endlessly entertaining and relatable.

What are his videos like?

PewDiePie’s videos are energetic, with him doing an off-the-cuff running commentary that’s characterized by goofy jokes, profanity, and loud outbursts. Here’s a montage he put together. Here’s him playing a goofy browser game that’s hard to control. He comes off as wholly unfiltered.

Some of his videos are edited in a way that keeps the action moving, never sticking on any one part for too long. The editing, his sense of humor, his vocal outbursts — these are all things that many people find abrasive about PewDiePie. But they’re also the things that his fans love the most.

Is he ridiculous all the time?

No. For as goofy as he can be — or obnoxious, if you prefer — PewDiePie can also be bracingly honest. Just watch him play the end of The Last of Us (spoilers, obviously). It’s a powerful game, with a great story and a gut punch of an ending. PewDiePie is his usual wild self until he gets to the final cut scene, which leaves him largely speechless. Then he wrestles with the game’s complicated, divisive ending in a very real, honest way.