The reports of Felix Kjellberg’s dissatisfaction with Maker Studios appear to be exaggerated.
News broke in early October that the 24-year-old behind PewDiePie – the most-viewed and most-subscribed YouTube channel on the planet – was unimpressed with his relationship with the Disney-owned YouTube multi-channel network. The Wall Street Journal (among other outlets) used Kjellberg’s interview in the latest installment of the Swedish magazine Icon as its primary source to report the young man wasn’t too interested in renewing his contract with the MCN after its December expiration date, and instead wanted to start his own network with a few friends.
Here’s the news, as written in the WSJ:
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His contract with Maker Studios runs out in December, and in an interview with Swedish magazine Icon, Kjellberg seems uninterested in renewing the deal.
“The fact that Disney bought Maker Studios doesn’t really change anything for me. If I ask for help, they reply, but that’s all the contact we have. We’ll see what happens,” the magazine cites him as saying.
Instead, Kjellberg wants to start his own network with friends.
“Yes, but I’d rather not talk too much about it. I’m in touch with a couple of people who I think would be so right for this. I’m eager to get it all up and running. So far, all the networks have been managed in such an incredibly poor way, it’s embarrassing really. I’d like to help other YouTubers,” Kjellberg told Icon.
After the story broke, Kjellberg took to Twitter to offer a very brief critique of the reporting and an explanation:
I feel like I was misquoted in the WSJ and I’m really happy with the work that Maker has been doing for me.
— Felix Kjellberg (@pewdiepie) October 4, 2014
To be fair to the WSJ reporters, it doesn’t look like they took too many leaps when writing their story. Here’s the relevant part of the original interview with Icon, emphasis added:
Felix Kjellberg is currently part of the network Maker Studios, who manage 55 000 YouTube channels and which was bought by Disney last spring for $ 950 million. Pewdiepie is the studio’s biggest name and he was mentioned in all trade press when the deal came through. However, Felix’s contract is up in December and he doesn’t seem interested in renewing it.
– The fact that Disney bought Maker Studios doesn’t really change anything for me. If I ask for help, they reply, but that’s all the contact we have. We’ll see what happens.
You’ve said that you’d like to start your own network together with your friends?
– Yes, but I’d rather not talk too much about it. I’m in touch with a couple of people who I think would be so right for this. I’m eager to get it all up and running. So far, all the networks have been managed in such an incredibly poor way, it’s embarrassing really. I’d like to help other YouTubers.
But to be fair to Kjellberg, he never explicitly states he’s unhappy with Maker Studios and the original Icon interview doesn’t seem to be chronologically organized. The YouTube gamer could’ve definitely voiced his opinions about Maker Studios and his own MCN aspirations at two totally separate times within two totally separate contexts. The reporter may have taken some liberties in placing those thoughts next to one another in the final story.
Kjellberg was also in Los Angeles this past week to participate in a Grand Prix competition orchestrated by Maker and Anki Drive, a toy racecar company which you may recognize from its debut at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in 2013. Here’s a quick vine from the real-life gaming event showing PewDiePie face off against other prominent YouTubers, UberHaxorNova and Yogscast Duncan.
— Polaris (@PolarisTweets) October 4, 2014
Kjellberg clearly doesn’t want for cash, so if the young man is willing to fly almost halfway around the world to participate in an event for one of Maker’s partners, that most likely belies a strong level of satisfaction with his current MCN. But we won’t have to speculate about what the owner and face of YouTube’s top channel thinks of his business relationships for much longer. Kjellberg’s contract is up in December. Come close to 2015 or a little thereafter, his network affiliations for the near future will be made clear. Stay tuned.