YouTube and Disney’s Maker Studios are cutting business ties with Felix Kjellberg, also known as PewDiePie. The sudden decision responds to a Wall Street Journal article pointing out repeated instances of anti-Semitic jokes in his videos.
PewDiePie is perhaps the most famous YouTuber with 53 million subscribers and counting. He is also the best paid, making more than some Hollywood stars at over $14 million per year.
Kjellberg rose to prominence on Google’s video platform in its early days by uploading videos of himself playing video games. Soon after that, he started diversifying his style more and more to reach a broader range of audiences.
PewDiePie just screwed up a major deal with Disney
Walt Disney Co. acquired Maker Studios back in 2014 for almost $700 million in an attempt to expand their reach to online viewers. The studio was famous on YouTube for being the house of its most popular video maker: PewDiePie.
The deal got even bigger after Kjellberg threatened to go independent, resulting in a new agreement that made him and the company owners of a small multimedia conglomerate last year.
Now, after nine videos featuring Nazi imagery and references, anti-Semitic jokes, and offensive remarks, Maker is ending its relationship with the YouTube star.
“ALTHOUGH FELIX HAS CREATED A FOLLOWING BY BEING PROVOCATIVE AND IRREVERENT, HE CLEARLY WENT TOO FAR IN THIS CASE. MAKER STUDIOS HAS MADE THE DECISION TO END OUR AFFILIATION WITH HIM GOING FORWARD,” a spokesperson told Variety.
PewDiePie will be taking a big revenue hit on YouTube
The 27-year-old videographer is also taking a double hit on YouTube, who is taking down his channel from the Google Preferred ads program and canceling the release of the second season of its show in YouTube Red.
PewDiePie’s channel was one of the few that received preferential treatment from Google. Advertisers had to fight over featuring their spots on his videos, a window to more than 50 million viewers nearly every day.
Kjellberg was so popular on the platform that he was one of the first obvious picks by YouTube when it launched its paid subscription service, YouTube Red, and a roster of original programs.
Following the controversy over the weekend, the Swedish YouTuber took to Tumblr “just to clear some things up” and apologize for having offended anyone with the jokes on his videos.
Season 2 of “Scare PewDiePie” was announced last summer with a focus on multiplayer games, but the series will not see the light of day now and potentially ever after this controversial episode.
Source: The Wall Street Journal