The major stars continue to cater to the young—or at least those with a youthful sense of humor. According to research firm Statista, 77% of U.S. internet users ages 15-25 tune into YouTube. The top earner was nine-year-old Ryan Kaji, who clambered atop first place for the third year in a row. He’s famous for so-called unboxing videos, in which he takes toys out of their packages and reviews them. The little guy now has a line of branded merchandise—toys, backpacks, toothpaste, more—at Target, Amazon and Walmart that did $200 million in sales last year, and a Nickelodeon series called Ryan’s Mystery Playdate. There’s fellow child star Nastya (No. 7), the only woman with the numbers to make the earnings-based list, and newcomer to the list Blippi (No. 8), a 32-year-old with a popular children’s educational channel where he sings about aquatic animals and visits children’s museums. Attracting a slightly older audience are make-up mogul Jeffree Star (No. 10) and comedian David Dobrik (No. 9), the list’s third newcomer.
Nearly all YouTubers earn the majority of their income from ad revenue generated from their YouTube videos, a number that is boosted when videos are family friendly, in English and longer than eight minutes. And while those ad rates did dip at the beginning of Covid-19, they quickly rebounded. Plus the YouTubers have gotten plenty of money from big brands such as Bass shops and Kroger, which each sponsored specific videos for Dude Perfect (No. 3) and Rhett and Link (No. 4), respectively.
All of these 21st century celebrities have branched out into the lucrative world of branded merchandise, too. Top creators like Dobrik, Donaldson and Markiplier (No. 5) can easily do $500,000 or more in monthly sales of tee-shirts, sweats and beanies—all perfect work-from-home wear. “In March, April, when people were stuck at home, there was more consumption of content and that collided with an e-commerce wave,” says Nikita Kopotun, the cofounder of Juniper, a custom merchandise shop for influencers.
In a commercial sense, times could not be better for these stars. But little Ryan sums it up for kids and grown-ups alike when he says: “I just can’t wait until we can go back outside.”
Read the full profile on Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/maddieberg/2020/12/18/the-highest-paid-youtube-stars-of-2020/?sh=49e3bc706e50
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