YouTube just launched a new $9.99-per-month subscription service that removes all ads, and one of the video site’s biggest stars has an interesting theory why it did so.
PewDiePie, a Swedish YouTube star who has racked up more than 40 million subscribers for his gaming videos, believes that Google launched the service as a way to bolster a revenue stream that is otherwise getting chopped by the growing popularity of ad blockers.
“YouTube Red exists largely as an effort to counter Adblock,” he writes on his blog.
PewDiePie polled his Twitter followers and looked at his YouTube analytics to estimate that 40% of his viewers use software that blocks ads. That’s up from only 15% to 20% about five years ago.
Of course, ad revenue is how YouTube and the people who create videos actually make money
“What this means is that YouTubers lose about 40% of their ad income,” PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, writes. “Personally, I’m ok with if you use adblock on my videos. Ads are annoying, I get it, I’m not here to complain about that. But for smaller channels, this number can be devastating.”
Because of his popularity PewDiePie made $7.4 million from his channel last year, but most creators don’t reach sums even close to that.
Ad blockers have become a particularly hot topic of conversation since Apple operating-system update allowed ad blocking on iPhones and iPads for the first time.
Google ads boss Sridar Ramaswamy recently called them a “blunt instrument” that should worry the ad industry, while suggesting that there needs to be a system for identifying certain acceptable ads that won’t be blocked by any ad-blocking system.
PewDiePie admits that it remains to be seen whether YouTube Red will end up being the right solution for smaller channels and stars, but believes that “it’s more important that we understand what the actual problem here is.”
Business Insider reached out to YouTube for comment on PewDiePie’s post and will update if we hear back.