A 7-year-old boy is now YouTube’s highest earner, according to the latest rankings by Forbes magazine.
The annual list of top-earning online stars has become a fixture of the new era of entertainment, where people are not only happy to binge-watch box sets on-demand, but also tune in regularly to watch others play video games while recording commentaries over the top. One of the more popular – and lucrative – forms of vlogs that populate YouTube’s ever-growing library of videos, which rack up 1 billion hours of watchtime every day.
While names such as PewDiePie will be recognisable to YouTube fans and those who follow the vlogging scene, this year’s biggest earner isn’t a 20 or 30-something gamer, but a 7-year-old boy called Ryan. Ryan ToysReview currently has 17.35 million subscribers, promising toy reviews for kids by a kid.
“He loves cars, trains, Thomas and Friends, LEGO, superheroes, Disney toys, open surprise eggs, Play Doh, Pixar Disney Cars, Disney Planes, monster trucks, minions, playtime at the fun, family fun adventure and so much more!” read his biography.
It’s a lucrative receipe for a YouTube channel. First set up by Ryan’s parents in 2015, he has since amassed over 25 billion views and a not inconsiderable $22 million. Most of that is generated by pre-roll videos, with the remainder made up from sponsored posts (a much smaller margin than other YouTubers, as Ryan’s parents either choose not to accept deals or face an audience that aren’t exactly rolling in cash).
Nonetheless, there’s additional opportunity for income: while most of the toys used for review are donated to a local charity, Ryan’s also got himself a toys and clothing line available at Target and Walmart.
Indeed, merchandising is an increasingly popular choie for many vloggers generating income, as they look to diversity beyond the basics of uploading videos and racking up views. Each of Forbes’ Top 10 have their own line of merch, which has helped to drive up the list’s combined overall income by 42 per cent year-on-year to $180.5 million.
Ryan’s earnings place him just $500,000 ahead of number two Jake Paul, who racked up more than 3.5 billion views for his rap songs and pranks over the 12-month period assessed by Forbes.
Paul is the younger brother of Logan Paul, the 23-year-old vlogger who was kicked out of YouTube’s Google Preferred program (for top-tier channels), after he released a video in Japan that showed an apparent suicide victim. Nonetheless, Logan Paul has had his own merchandise revenue in the last year, which has earned him 10th place on the list.
PewDiePie, meanwhile, who is also no stranger to scandal, has been racing to hold on to his title of YouTube’s most-followed creator. He’s ranked ninth on the list, one of the five gamers in the Top 10. Here’s the list:
1. Ryan ToysReview ($22m)
2. Jake Paul ($21.5m)
3. Dude Perfect ($20m)
4. DanTDM ($18.5m)
5. Jeffree Star ($18m)
6. Markiplier ($17.5m)
7. Vanoss Gaming ($17m)
8. Jacksepticeye ($16m)
9. PewDiePie ($15.5m)
10. Logan Paul ($14.5m)