Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, known the world over as Youtube’s ‘PewDiePie’, is certifiably the most ‘epic’ of all the epic Youtube vloggers. He’s the guy who makes millions from, quite literally and simply, playing video games at home in his pyjamas. Intrigued? Read on.
Having skyrocketed to fame over the last 3 years with his comedic running commentaries of both popular and indie horror and action games, Felix is arguably one of the most influential members of the gaming community. His Youtube superstardom has had ripple effects felt throughout the independent gaming industry. Developers have benefited hugely from PewDiePie’s channel, with figures showing that games PewDiePie featured have received a significant boost in sales directly correlated with the vlog entry. Still, the loveable Swede has kept his head and kept his distance from the commercial scene – he doesn’t make any exclusive endorsement deals, so most of his substantial fortune comes directly from Youtube. As of the end of November this year, PewDiePie had the 3rd highest number of subscribers on Youtube and ranks 6th in video viewings. Not bad for the guy who makes weird noises while he’s mauled by virtual zombies.
PewDiePie has gained – on average – an unprecedented 61,000 subscribers on daily since he started his vlog back in 2010. In the last month alone, between October and November 2013, the channel saw a stunning 1.8 million new subscribers. He’d been in the big league Youtube top 3 since July 2013 he’s holding his place pretty definitively with over 16,883,000 subscribers at the end of November this year.
So people watch PewDiePie’s videos, that much is certain. But without buying into celebrity endorsements, just how does PewDiePie make his money and – the question on many of our lips – how much of it does he make? He has his own merchandise, which accounts for some of his fortune, and he has over 2 billion YouTube views. It’s difficult to pin a stat on it, as Youtube is a bit ‘cloak and daggers’ about their video pay-outs, but according to Socialblade.com his estimated monthly earnings start at about $102.8 thousand and his estimated yearly earning is up on $1.2 million. These figures can only be estimates, but let’s look at how it’s calculated…
PewDiePie partners with gaming network Polaris and according to statsheep.com he earns a CPM (cost per thousand views) of between $0.50 and $2.50 for each video, after the cut that Polaris receives. Remember we’re still in the realm of educated conjecture, based on the average CPM paid out by Polaris. PewDiePie’s CPM could well be higher than the average. So, based on this average CPM value we can make a stab at what his videos have earned per view. While we’re at it, let’s look at five of PewDiePie’s top viewed videos and see if we can work out what makes this video king such a well-loved icon.
5. PEWDIEPIE Song – Dj Fortify : 13 million views $6500 – $32500
This video features a series of bizarre PewDiePew cartoons, many popularized on PewDiePew merchandise and other graphic renderings and popular memes, and PewDiePew fan art. The slideshow plays to a soundtrack by DJ Fortify, and has earned over 13 million views. The PewDiePie Song series includes other top viewed videos like Jabba the Hut. Based on the average CPN from Polaris, we estimate the PewDiePie song alone could have earned Felix up to $32500.
4. Top Scariest Moments of Gaming : over 16 million views , est. $8100 – $40,501
Another video with over 16 million views is a montage of gaming jumpscares. We watch PewDiePie alongside live action replay of the games as he balks at the scares, clearly for exaggerated comic effect. Apparently this appealed to millions of viewers – mostly fellow gamers who relate to the same moments and want to share the joke, as well as – we imagine – many of PewDiePie’s dedicated female admirers. Among the ghoulish games feature, there’s Cry of Fear, Amnesia Custom Story, Ghoul’s Forest and A Laugh in the Darkness. This video’s popularity may have earned its maker between $8100 and $40,501 through 16,200,587 views.
3. Harlem Shake FAIL : 18 million views, est. $9103 – $45519
Back in early 2013 the dreaded Harlem Shake meme went viral, and vloggers latched on the – let’s face it – irritating concept. PewDiePie’s February 15th upload jumped on the Harlem Shake bandwagon and made it into his most viewed videos. It has a series of PewDiePews ‘shaking’ to the music in various, and ridiculous, stages of undress. The video continues to receive views and comments, with a whopping 18,207,894 views that may have made the Swedish vlogger between $9103 and $45519 – not bad for a 30 second clip.
2. Happy Wheels – Funny Moments Montage #3: 25 million views $12500 -$62500
The Funny Moments from Happy Wheels montage (published on the 25, June 2012) continues to attract viewers despite being published over year ago – decades in internet time. Happy Wheels is a physics-based online flash game in which the player takes a rag doll vehicle through a kind of obstacle course, fighting against gravity. The game has gained immense popularity since it was created by independent developer Jim Bonacci in 2010, with plenty of user-generated content emerging around it. The violence (the player’s head blows bloodily apart on impact with the ground, or a pedestrian becomes exploding pulp thanks to a hit and run player) can make for some physical comedy that clearly appeals to gaming demographic. With PewDiePie’s unique commentary, pulling out all the stops to highlight the ‘funnies’ in the game, this video has drawn a staggering 25,216,292 views, which probably has earned ‘Pewds’ a minimum of $12608 to $63040. He ran with the success of the concept, and created several other Happy Wheels-focused games including his popular ‘Let’s Play’ gameplay video series, ‘Best. Map. Ever.’ and more, all within the top 30 of his most popular videos.
1. A Funny Montage(over 34 million views)and Funny Gaming Montage (over 26 million views) – $17337 – $86688
A series of montage videos top PewDiePie’s most-viewed list, gaining between 26 million and 34 million views. The most viewed of these, and PewDiePie’s most viewed video of all time, was published on June 4. It weaves together a number of comic snippets from some of PewDiePie’s most popular videos and shows him play his way through Surgeon Simulator, Unfair Mario, Amnesia: Rain and Alice: Madness Returns. The gags and commentary come thick and fast, and the video has captured the collective imagination of Youtube users. At over 34 million the views, we estimate this one is worth between $17337 and $86688.
Something about PewDiePie appeals to gamers looking for laughs and though he certainly doesn’t break boundaries with his humour, his personality and his love for games makes every video an immersive experience. For his followers or, as he fondly calls them, ‘bros’, PewDiePie is the gaming friend they never had. He knows how to exploit social media too, even taking gag requests – he recently twerked for his dog following a request from a tweeter. Whatever it is about this zany Swede, if vlogging is a game he has well and truly crashed through the levels.
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