YouTube King PewDiePie Surrenders Crown to Indian Record Label T-Series

YouTube King PewDiePie Surrenders Crown to Indian Record Label T-Series

YouTube is about to crown a new king.

T-Series, one of India’s largest record labels, will become the most-subscribed channel on the world’s most popular video site in the next couple weeks. At the beginning of the year, the company had 30 million fans, fewer than half of the following for No. 1 PewDiePie, the Swedish video-game geek and jokester whose real name is Felix Kjellberg.

The company’s ascent has shocked the tight-knit community of online personalities, prompting some to rally behind PewDiePie and delay T-Series’ ascent. While claiming the most subscribers on YouTube is largely a symbolic achievement, and the company already has the most monthly views, the end of PewDiePie’s five-year reign is a watershed that reflects important changes as internet use gets more global.

More than half of the 10 most popular channels on YouTube in terms of monthly views are from outside the US, and many of them belong to professional media companies. YouTube’s previous champions have been young, male amateurs like the video blogger Ray William Johnson and comedy duo Smosh. But after years as a mostly Western site for pranks and cat clips, the Google-owned company has lured most of the world’s largest media giants to the site, blurring the line between professional and amateur.

Opportunity Knocks
That’s opened the door for Noida, India-based T-Series, which operates 29 channels and boasts more than 100 million combined YouTube subscribers. Its flagship, also called T-Series, has been adding three million subscribers a month and will be the first non-English-language channel to hit No. 1.

“This digital era is fantastic,” Bhushan Kumar, T-Series’ chief executive officer, said in an interview. “It’s here to stay. It’s giving us popularity. It’s giving us recognition.”

T-Series was founded in 1984 by the CEO’s father, Gulshan Dua. The son of a Delhi juice vendor, Dua started making money by producing and selling cassettes. Though dogged by rumors he was pirating music, Dua, who later adopted the family name Kumar, turned a mom-and-pop shop into a conglomerate that sold CDs and home electronics.

The company achieved its breakout success with the soundtrack to “Aashiqui,” a Hindi musical romance that is still one of the best-selling records in the history of India. Bollywood soundtracks account for more than half of the Indian music market and still serve as the foundation of T-Series.

“T-Series used to cater to a much older generation, but it is making movie content and music videos to capture a younger generation,” said Allison Stern, chief marketing officer at Tubular Labs, a research firm that tracks online video. “It mirrors what a lot of media companies are doing in the U.S.”

From Tragedy
Tragedy struck in 1997 when the T-Series founder, then 42, was murdered after refusing to pay extortion to an organized crime group linked to an infamous gangster, according to reports, and his son took over. The younger Kumar demonstrated a knack for picking the right soundtracks and pushed the company deeper into movie production.

“Bollywood music is like Russian roulette,” said T-Series President Neeraj Kalyan, who joined the company shortly before the murder and has worked as Bhushan Kumar’s deputy for two decades. “You keep on betting, but you don’t know what will be a hit.”
In 1999, Kalyan was asked to look after T-Series’ music exports, just as the internet was about to rock the industry. CD sales started to fall as consumers began downloading pirated music. While online stores like iTunes ultimately replaced CD sales in many Western countries, that first wave of e-commerce bypassed India. The only way music companies made money online was by selling ringtones.

YouTube vs. World
YouTube came to India in 2007, still mostly a repository for one-off amateur videos. The most-popular channel was lonelygirl15, a web series about a video blogger, and the most-viewed video featured an eight-minute battle between a herd of buffalo, a pride of lions and a pair of crocodiles.

Media companies viewed YouTube as a pariah. In March of that year, Viacom, the owner of MTV and Nickelodeon, sued the company for copyright infringement. Kalyan soon followed. He noticed more and more of the company’s music appearing on YouTube, none with his approval.

T-Series and YouTube settled in 2011, at which point the video site was hosting popular comedians, like Ray William Johnson and Smosh, as well as proper music videos. The most-watched clip that year was Rebecca Black’s “Friday.”

T-Series started uploading videos to YouTube in 2011. Growth was slow at first, but the company surpassed 1 million subscribers in 2012, one of the first channels in India to do so.

Mobile Miracle
Then came the Indian mobile miracle. In 2016, Reliance Industries launched its modern wireless network and slashed prices for internet access. In just a few years, Indian data use soared. Online video consumption exploded and nobody has benefited more than YouTube.

Today YouTube has more than 300 channels in India with more than a million subscribers each. The company hosted five fan festivals in India this year and announced its first slate of shows there. India is now YouTube’s second-largest market in views and first in users.

“India is a really great bright spot,” said Gautam Anand, head of YouTube’s Asia Pacific business. “It’s one of the fastest-growing markets even within Asia.”

T-Series now posts all of its music on YouTube first, investing huge sums in videos that help promote its movies and spur song sales. YouTube now accounts for 20 percent to 25 percent of T-Series’ sales, which are nearing $100 million (roughly Rs. 721 crores).

Size, Diversity
T-Series has thrived by taking advantage of India’s size and diversity. The country is home to hundreds of languages, including at least 13 spoken by more than 10 million people. T-Series operates 29 channels that offer videos in regional tongues and different music genres, including one for devotional music, with 13 million subscribers, another in the Telugu language, with 2 million subscribers, and Bollywood classics at 6.5 million. They all feed into the main channel.

And while Bollywood remains the most popular genre, individual creators with no link to any movie are T-Series’ fastest-growing segment.

Supporters of PewDiePie have scrambled to delay the defenestration of their idol, posting critical comments about T-Series videos and opening up new accounts to boost his totals. Some have had a racial tinge, like one from MrBeast, who bought ads on the video service that said, ‘‘Calling all Bros! You Can Save YouTube.”

But T-Series videos aren’t just popular in India. About 40 percent of their viewership is from outside the country, says Kalyan, thanks to the diaspora of Punjabis and other Indians that has attracted fans across the world. Thanks to PewDiePie and MrBeast, that number may go up.

“Whatever those guys are doing, it’s helped me a lot,” Kalyan said. “The people in the West, or in the East as far as Japan were not even aware of us. They now know about us because of all that controversy.”


Moto G7 Spotted on US FCC Site Tipping Snapdragon 660 SoC, 4GB RAM

Moto G7 Spotted on US FCC Site Tipping Snapdragon 660 SoC, 4GB RAM

Motorola’s upcoming flagship Moto G7 is expected to be unveiled soon, and details regarding the smartphone have been popping up slowly. Previous reports have hinted at a number of features that are expected in the Moto G7 phone, including waterdrop display, wireless charging support, 6.4-inch display, and more. Meanwhile, latest reports suggest the Lenovo-owned company may launch the handsets in the market soon. The Moto G7 has been certified by Federal Communications Commission in the US and several details about the upcoming phone have been revealed in the listings, including RAM, storage, processor, dual camera setup, and more.

The FCC IDs of the two new Motorola smartphones are IHDT56XN3 and IHDT56XR3; and the model numbers are XT1952-2 and XT1965-3. The FCC listing does not reveal the names of the handset, but the two models are possibly meant for different carriers or markets. The FCC listing provides details such as the processor, RAM, inbuilt storage, and more about the Moto G7 handset. It also suggests the model numbers of the Moto G7 will have in India.

According to the listing, the Moto G7 with model number 1965-3 will arrive with a Snapdragon 660 SoC, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of inbuilt storage in Latin America, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. A schematic image of the handset hints at a dual camera setup on the back. Additionally, the listing also shows that the Moto G7 will arrive with dual-band Wi-Fi support and NFC support.

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Photo Credit: FCC

Meanwhile, the Moto G7 listing with model number XT 1965-4 will arrive in India and XT 1965-6 in China. In the US and Canada, the smartphone will ship with model number XT 1965-1 while Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, will get Moto G7 XT 1965-2. Notably, the FCC listing only reveals the specifications of the smartphone with model number XT 1965-3 model, which will arrive in Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. The FCC listings were first spotted by 91Mobiles.

Previous leaks had suggested that the Moto G7 will sport a 6.4-inch full-HD+ (1080×2340 pixels) display, an octa-core SoC that could be the Snapdragon 660, coupled with 4GB of RAM. It is rumoured to have a 12-megapixel selfie camera, 64GB of onboard storage, and a 3,500mAh battery. The smartphone may also support wireless charging. The dual rear camera setup at the back is speculated to have a 16-megapixel primary sensor and a 5-megapixel secondary sensor. The renders show the availability of a 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB Type-C port that sits alongside the loudspeaker grill. It is said that the Moto G7 will measure 157×75.3x8mm, though its camera bump could make it 9.5mm thick overall.