The new ranking from Forbes of the wealthiest YouTube stars shows that they are making more than ever. PewDiePie is doing particularly well, raking in $15m in 2016.
YouTube stars are no longer the celebrities of the future, but the celebrities of today, as more and more children and teenagers grow up in a world where TV is their second port of call behind the video sharing platform.
While once considered a niche area for someone to supplement their income with Google’s advertising revenue, thousands of people are now turning to YouTube as their sole careers, churning out content on a daily basis to please millions of fans.
Now, according to Forbes, an elite few YouTubers have made the magazine’s ranking of the 12 top-earning stars of 2016. It was a record year for earnings on the platform, totalling $70.5m – a 23pc increase on the same time last year.
Based on information collated from various sources, including stars’ agents, industry insiders and the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), it is no surprise that Swedish star Felix Avrid Ulf Kjellberg – otherwise known as PewDiePie – is the biggest star by far.
While recent claims suggest that he’ll quit the platform once he reaches 50m subscribers (he currently has 49.7m), PewDiePie made $15m this year – a 20pc increase on 2015.
This has been put down to the fact that he has begun branching out from his surreal videos, releasing a book that sold over 100,000 copies and launching a new series on YouTube Red.
A place to feel less alone
Other noticeable earners this year included Roman Atwood, who began his YouTube career five years ago and has since become a serial prankster worth an estimated $8m.
This year in particular was lucrative for Atwood, who saw an incredible 70pc increase in earnings thanks to a boost to his channel, but also due to his growing brand, which sees him tour the world and release his own merchandise.
Of the 12 listed, four were newcomers. Tyler Oakley, for instance, who has become one of YouTube’s biggest advocates for LGBT issues and activism, earned $6m this year.
Speaking to Forbes, Oakley said: “[YouTube] is a place for people from all over the world to feel less alone. When I was younger and still in the closet, I couldn’t just google ‘coming out story’ to help me articulate what I was going through.
“Now, there are tens of thousands of first-person accounts that could help people make sense of their identities.”