PewDiePie tops Forbes’ YouTube stars rich list with US$12m

15 Oct 2015

The growing financial power of YouTube stars has been revealed in Forbes’ new rich list for the current generation, with Swedish star Felix ‘PewDiePie’ Kjellberg topping the chart with US$12m.

While some look at the success of YouTube stars with a sense of bewilderment, the level of fame these stars have is now comparable with Hollywood celebrities, especially among younger generations.

Whether its video game commentary, make-up tips or comedy, the platform, which has hundreds of millions of hours of videos viewed each day, is now a goldmine for advertising companies who use the major stars to market their products much more successfully than traditional advertising ever could.

With this in mind, the new Forbes rich list of YouTube stars shows the amount of money the top stars are actually generating, and there is no denying that PewDiePie is the most successful of them all.

The star, who very rarely makes public appearances – despite his weekly posting of videos of him playing video games and making funny noises – sits at the top with a fortune of US$12m.

The second highest-earning YouTube star is actually a duo of Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla, who now run five comedy channels on YouTube under the Smosh name, earning a grand total of US$8.5m.

They share the same earnings as another duo, the Fine Brothers, who arguably spurred on the ‘react to’ series, which has seen them get picked up by the children’s TV channel Nickelodeon.

The highest-ranked woman on the list, in fourth place, is Lindsey Stirling, who now has more than 7m subscribers to her channel where she performs violin songs and dancing numbers.

Speaking to Forbes previously, Stirling said of YouTube’s benefits: “It’s a very loyal fan base (that) wants you to succeed because they found you. It wasn’t some big radio station or record label that shoved art down someone’s throat and said ‘this is what’s cool’.”

PewDiePie image via camknows/Flickr

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic