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PewDiePie, the World's Biggest Internet Star, Is Getting His Own Web Video Network

Shades of Dr. Dre: Disney and Maker Studios fund "Revelmode."

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg is the Internet’s biggest star. Now he wants to be a mogul, too. And Disney says it wants to help him.

Kjellberg, whose YouTube channel has 40 million subscribers, is unveiling Revelmode, a “new media brand” he is assembling that will feature the video star and an assortment of lesser-known personalities. Kjellberg is launching Revelmode in conjunction with Maker Studios, the Disney-owned video network he has worked with for several years.

The official language announcing the new venture, as well as Kjellberg’s own commentary, is vague. A press release says the group will work on “premium content, game development, philanthropic programs, commercial partnerships and merchandise.” Kjlellberg says it’s “me and a bunch of really awesome YouTubers, coming together, as a group, to do really awesome things.”

But the general idea is quite clear: Maker is helping Kjellberg create his own network, populated by people he thinks his fanbase will like. He’ll keep making his own gamer+comedy videos, and will help develop other talent, and they’ll make new projects together. And Maker/Disney will back the venture, and get a piece of the upside.

Or to put it another way: This sounds a lot like artist-run mini-labels that big music labels have bankrolled in the past as part of deals to work with megastars like Dr. Dre (Aftermath Entertainment) and Eminem (Shady Records). It is probably not a coincidence that Maker Studios boss Courtney Holt got his start at Universal Music Group, which specialized in those kinds of deals.

One other non-coincidence: In 2014, as Kjlelberg’s contract with Maker was set to expire, he talked openly about his desire to create his own network. Now, after re-signing with Maker, he has one.

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