With 10 billion views and 40 million subscribers, Sweden’s game-junkie prankster PewDiePie, better known as Felix Kjellberg is one of the most recognizable faces in the world. His YouTube channel already landed him a guest spot on South Park and is about to propel him from YouTube star to reality TV star -- with some help from The Walking Dead production company Skybound Entertainment and online content giant Maker Studios.
YouTube’s biggest self-made star is already one of the top earners on the site. His channel burst onto the scene in 2010, with hilarious horror video game ride-alongs and amusing sketches. When YouTube's new paid service YouTube Red goes live in 2016, Kjellberg will man one of its flagship programs, Scare PewDiePie.
According to the Google press release, YouTube’s new subscriber-content channel Red will launch several original series and films centered on its most recognizable faces, including Kjellstrom’s upcoming reality show. Scare PewDiePie is reportedly a hybrid adventure prank show which fashions scenarios similar to the horror games that Kjellstrom rose to fame on via commentary. Each episode thrusts PewDiePie into a frightening set of "real life" circumstances which he’s supposedly unaware of, and then films him from every angle as he’s assaulted by legions of things that go bump in the night, haunted house-style. Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman also broke his silence about the new show:
“Scare PewDiePie is a huge part of what has made 2015 our biggest year yet. Working with Felix, YouTube and Maker Studios on this venture has been creatively exhilarating and just plain fun. I trust audiences will love the show as much as we loved creating it.”
The creative force behind The Walking Dead, recent spin-off Fear the Walking Dead, and the upcoming feature film Air, Kirkman and Co. are no slouches when it comes to scary. This is their second venture into the realm of reality TV, the first being Nerd Court -- a People’s Court spoof/takeoff that's also co-produced with Maker Studios. Teaming with Maker again and YouTube behemoth PewDiePie pulls together some serious online muscle. Kjellberg, always willing to try something new, is excited about the venture as well: “Shooting a show like this in a completely new format has been so much fun! We just wrapped…but I still feel unsure every day if I'm safe or not from another scare. I can’t wait…”
When Scare PewDiePie premiers next year, it will be interesting to how this merger of YouTube might fares. Combining Kirkman’s entertainment savvy with PewDiePie’s appeal and Maker’s ability to pump out engaging content could make the show a massive hit on the fledgling YouTube Red. The reality fright fest also has a potential built-in audience of 40 million viewers from Kjellberg’s channel alone.
However, a number of serious variables remain. YouTube as a subscriber model may turn off many fans who're used to watching for their favorite personalities for free. PewDiePie as a long-form, non-freewheeling persona has yet to be tested as well. Although the show follows his every move, he’s no longer directly in control of what his users see, and that may lead to a serious divergence between what his core audience wants to see and what the directors and producers put forward.
Slated for release in 2016, Scare PewDiePie will debut on YouTube Red, YouTube’s paid subscription service.