Controversial game streamer Felix Kjellberg, better known by his handle PewDiePie, signed an exclusive livestreaming deal with YouTube Monday.
The deal allows YouTube to leverage PewDiePie’s network of over 104 million subscribers. YouTube wouldn’t disclose terms of the arrangement.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to continue to grow our roster of creators who are making our platform their exclusive livestreaming home to bring fans around the world even more of what they love,” YouTube head of gaming Ryan Wyatt said in a statement Monday.
PewDiePie has been streaming for a decade, beginning in 2010.
“YouTube has been my home for over a decade now and livestreaming on the platform feels like a natural fit as I continue to look for new ways to create content and interact with fans worldwide,” Kjellberg said in a statement. “Livestreaming is something I’m focusing a lot on in 2020 and beyond, so to be able to partner with YouTube and be at the forefront of new product features is special and exciting for the future.”
The Swedish streamer said late last year that he would take “a break” from YouTube broadcasting, saying he was “very tired.”
That tiredness was no doubt brought on by PewDiePie’s antics — Disney’s Maker Studios released PewDiePie from his contract in 2017 after videos of him making anti-semitic jokes were discovered. Later, PewDiePie drew even more backlash for using the N-word during a gaming livestream. The streamer was also shouted out by a mass shooter — the man behind the March 2019 massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand filmed himself saying “remember lads, subscribe to PewDiePie,” before opening fire on passersby. PewDiePie said he was “absolutely sickened” by the mention and didn’t condone the violence.
This deal is YouTube’s latest bet on talent in competition for dominance in streaming going on within gaming, as each game streaming outlet (including Amazon-owned Twitch and Microsoft-owned Mixer) scrambles to sign talent exclusively. YouTube already owns the livestreams of creators CouRage, Lachlan, LazarBeam, Muselk, Typical Gamer and Valkyrae, who have some 140 million subscribers between them. YouTube reports that over 200 million gamers each day watch over 50 billion hours of content each year.