- The YouTube star PewDiePie and the Indian record label T-Series duked it out for months earlier this year to become the YouTube channel with the most subscribers. T-Series won and has more than 100 million subscribers.
- But behind the scenes, the pair were fighting a legal battle in Delhi’s High Court over diss tracks released by PewDiePie (whose real name is Felix Kjellberg) that mocked T-Series.
- The two diss tracks have been blocked in India since a court order in April. A judge found them to be “abusive,” “vulgar,” and “racist.”
- A July filing seen by Business Insider showed that the two agreed to settle the case, though both videos remain blocked in India.
- T-Series’ president, Neeraj Kalyan, said he had no hard feelings toward PewDiePie. “He’s great,” Kalyan said. “We wish him all the best.”
- Read Business Insider’s full interview with Kalyan on BI Prime.
The YouTube star PewDiePie and the Indian music label T-Series quietly settled a months-long court fight as the pair duked it out to become the YouTube channel with the most subscribers.
T-Series became the most popular YouTube channel in March, knocking PewDiePie (whose real name is Felix Kjellberg) off the top spot. T-Series now has 108 million subscribers, while PewDiePie has 98 million.
The competition generated huge interest from Kjellberg’s online fanbase as well as the wider media, in part because T-Series exclusively posts Indian music videos and is little known to a Western internet audience.
Kjellberg, 29, the highest-paid star on YouTube, rose to fame by posting footage of himself playing video games with humorous commentary, which evolved into arcane, insider references. He has attracted negative attention thanks to some tasteless pranks and borderline commentary, including paying a couple of freelancers on Fiverr to hold up a sign reading “Death to all Jews.”
That edgy humor spilled over into the fight with T-Series, with Kjellberg releasing two diss tracks mocking the Indian firm as the two channels fought for the top spot.
The first video, published on YouTube last October and called “Bitch Lasagna,” referenced online tropes about Indian users, including misspelling words in English. It also appeared to mock Hindi as “mumble rap,” among other insults.
After T-Series took the lead, PewDiePie released a second video on March 31 called “Congratulations,” ostensibly congratulating his rival. That video appeared to refer to legal action by T-Series.
“I got a letter in the post, hmm, what is this? T-Series saying ‘Cease and desist,'” Kjellberg sings in the video.
T-Series had both videos blocked in India eight days later, after obtaining an injunction from Delhi’s High Court. The judge found both videos to be “abusive, vulgar and also racist in nature,” an April 8 filing said.
But according to a July 15 filing seen by Business Insider, the pair came to a settlement over the videos, though they haven’t signed an agreement. T-Series did not respond to a request for further detail.
As of Tuesday, “Congratulations” and “Bitch Lasagna” remained blocked in India.
T-Series’ Kalyan told Business Insider that he had no hard feelings toward PewDiePie.
“He’s great. We wish him all the best,” he said. “The kinds of things he does, we’re not into that. It’s a different audience altogether.”