In a harsh new video post, YouTube star PewDiePie who recently made headlines for anti-Semitic jokes, has taken a shot at traditional media, most pointedly, The Wall Street Journal, saying that “old school media doesn’t like internet personalities because they are scared of us.”
He added that this is because of the "influence" and "voice" internet stars have, that traditional media outlets just don’t seem to understand. Check out his video response here:
However, the 27 year old Swedish star, with over 53 million subscribers, is now no doubt, in hot water because the platform that had handed him his glory, Google-owned YouTube, is pulling back. Google is now removing his channel from the premium advertising service - a decision which was made shortly after Maker Studios decided to cut ties with him.
In a statement to Marketing, a Google spokesperson said, "We’ve decided to cancel the release of Scare PewDiePie Season 2 and we’re removing the PewDiePie channel from Google Preferred."
According to an article on Bloomberg, this controversy could be a potential setback for YouTube’s content strategy especially for its YouTube Red service which launched in 2015. The paid subscription service and the channel generally feature new content, original shows and movies from some of YouTube’s biggest creators.
However, those in the agency world seem to disagree.
David Haddad, managing director at IPG Mediabrands Singapore said to think that the removal of one YouTube star from Google's premium ad inventory will have a significant impact on its advertising revenue or audience views, “is somewhat exaggerated”.
“Sure PewDiePie’s channel generated significant views and ad dollars, however in the context of YouTube we have to remember this is the platform where thousands of other content stars and video celebrities are ready to step into limelight, and take the opportunity to be the next YouTube celebrity,” he added.
What is interesting, he added is that YouTube taking a stance in its otherwise open content environment. He said:
It reminds us that the video giant is a commercial enterprise with significant advertising revenues to protect. Much like the TV networks have their own content standards, YouTube is setting a standard in its premium cost environment.
This is a smart move given the various options marketers and agencies today are presented with.
Simon Kemp, regional managing partner of We Are Social backed YouTube’s move to sanction PewDiePie - even if his antics were all a joke.
“Kjellberg the person is perfectly entitled to share his opinions of course, but when it comes to his relationship with YouTube, PewDiePie is a part of Alphabet's ‘product'. If Alphabet doesn’t think the product suits their brand anymore, they’re fully entitled to remove him from their portfolio,” he said, adding:
The company needs to protect the interests of their customers.
Much like Haddad he added that this would not have a dent the company’s success. He added that for every PewDiePie, there’s another 100,000 wannabes, and they only need 500 followers each to generate the same ad revenues as YouTube's top star.
Google will choose the heir apparent, and give that creator the same kind of support they gave PewDiePie to become the next big internet sensation.
The future of PewDiePie
While there will be disappointed fans who will be sad to see him go those who he hasn’t offended too much will easily follow him wherever he goes next, said Kemp.
In fact, Amazon could be an interesting bet. BBC’s Top Gear star Jeremy Clarkson and his team also landed up with a lucrative deal with Amazon’s new video service, after BBC declined to renew their contract.
“From that perspective, leaving YouTube probably won’t affect PewDiePie either," said Kemp, adding:
Irreverence and mischief are part of the brands of people such as Clarkson and PewDiePie, and regardless of our individual stance on the subject, the rise of people like Trump demonstrates that many people around the world crave an alternative to endless political correctness.
So while PewDiePie’s lack of tact may not sit well with Alphabet, someone in a boardroom somewhere in the world will be very happy to sign up the poster boy of the video influencer movement.
“As much as I’m disappointed by the context, the consequences may benefit the broader influencer world; greater diversity of opportunity for creators, and more differentiation between host platforms can only be a good thing,” Kemp added.