The highest-earning YouTuber this year is once againÂ Ryan Kaji, the 8-year-old star of the Ryanâ€™s World channel whoâ€™s the main talent for a small media empire that pulled in an estimated $26 million.
More from Variety
Ryan and his familyâ€™s 28-employee production company, Sunlight Entertainment, also topped Forbesâ€™ list last year with $22 million in estimated earnings. The companyâ€™s gross income for the most recent 12-month period was roughly double that ofÂ PewDiePie, the No. 1 most-subscribed YouTuber andÂ most-viewed creator on the platform for 2019.Â PewDiePie, whoÂ has announced that he will go on hiatus next year, is tied with fellowÂ YouTubeÂ gamer Markiplier at No. 7 on Forbesâ€™ list, both with an estimated take of $13 million.
Sunlight Entertainment, run by Ryanâ€™s parents Loann and Shion Kaji, currently manages nine YouTube channels: Ryanâ€™s World, Ryanâ€™s World EspaÃ±ol, Ryanâ€™s World in Japanese, EK Doodles, Ryanâ€™s Family Review, Vtubers, Combo Panda, Gus the Gummy Gator and The Studio Space. Ryanâ€™s channels have received over 41 billion views to date and amassed over 31 million subscribers. Ryan and his family reside in Texas.
Ryanâ€™s World launched in 2015 as a toy-unboxing channel called Ryan Toys Review and has consistently ranked among the most popular channels on YouTube. In 2017, Ryan and his familyÂ inked a deal with digital childrenâ€™s media startup Pocket.watch,Â which landed a deal with Nickelodeon for TV show â€œRyanâ€™s Mystery Playdateâ€ and has produced a line of Ryanâ€™s World merchandise.
The revenue increase for Ryanâ€™s World comes asÂ YouTube gets ready to implement changes to how it treats kidsâ€™ contentÂ starting in January 2020. UnderÂ YouTubeâ€™s $170 million settlement with the FTC and the New York Attorney GeneralÂ for alleged violations of the U.S. Childrenâ€™s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), YouTube among other things will no longer allow targeted advertising in videos directed at kids under 13 and will disable features like comments and notifications for channels aimed at children. Chris M. Williams, founder and CEO ofÂ Pocket.watch, said his company has the ability to sell COPPA-compliant, contextually based advertising placed on channels including Ryanâ€™s World, and added thatÂ Pocket.watchÂ has diversified the revenue streams for its affiliated creators. â€œWe are a very good partner for our creator partners â€“ we can provide advertising to our partners that YouTube canâ€™t anymore,â€ he told Variety.
Also ranking high on Forbesâ€™ list of top YouTube earners for 2019 are Dude Perfect, the trick-shot specialists affiliated with Whistle, who pulled in $20 million; Anastasia Radzinskaya, a 5-year-old Russian-American girl whose family operates several YouTube channels ($18 million); Rhett and Link, hosts of â€œGood Mythical Morningâ€ ($17.5 million); and makeup artist Jeffree Star ($17 million).
Rounding out the Forbes top 10 YouTube earnings list are: Preston ($14 million); Markiplier ($13 million); PewDiePie ($13 million); DanTDM ($12 million); and VanossGaming ($11.5 million).
According to Forbes, the earnings estimates for YouTubers factor in advertising and sponsorships, merchandise sales, tour income and other revenue sources. The figures are pretax and do not include fees for agents, managers or lawyers. Third-party data sources the publication uses to determine the figures include Captiv8, SocialBlade and Pollstar.
Best of Variety