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| June 25, 2017

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The Richest YouTube Stars

The Richest YouTube Stars
Charles Chong

YouTube.  It’s the site you love and hate all at the same time.  It saves you from agonizing hours of boredom while simultaneously keeping you from making your deadline.  Oh, the memories.


YouTube makes a lot of money for Google.  And by a lot, I mean YouTube has annual revenues of over $1 billion from advertisements.  Advertisers are flocking to YouTube to get the most out of their advertisements, and rightly so because it has over 1 billion unique visitors every month, with those 1 billion unique visitors watching 4 billion hours of video every month for a total of over 1 trillion views since 2011.  More people watch YouTube than every other broadcasting company combined.  YouTube has destroyed TV.

But what keeps people coming back for more?  Watching viral video after viral video can get a little boring at times.  And oftentimes, you don’t want to watch mindless videos – you want something with actual content, whether that is in the form of short skits or educational videos.  Therefore, YouTube came up with the ingenious YouTube Partner plan in 2007.  Essentially, YouTubers who make the best content and have the most views get invited to become a YouTube Partner where they can make money from advertisements being displayed on their channels.  Previously, nonsensical, candid videos were the dominant form of video (e.g. someone falling off something else in a hilarious way that just happened to be captured on camera) uploaded onto YouTube.  With this new YouTube Partners program, channel operators had huge incentives to make quality, thought-out content in order to maximize the views of their videos.

And from this program, stars were born.  In fact, most of the top YouTube stars have literally made millions of dollars from it.  They have the dream job, and they know it: create fun videos that they originally started as a hobby and get paid to do it.  Unfortunately, a contract with YouTube forbids any of them from actually revealing their pay, but you can make some relatively accurate guesses based on the subscriber and view count of the channel.  So which channels are the most popular?  Who are the richest?  Keep reading to find out.


10.  freddiew

Subscribers: 5,449,343
Channel Views: 81 million
Estimated Earnings: $92.8K – $866.1K per year

Freddiew’s videos mostly consist of hilarious videos with a lot of CG.  As an avid fan of gaming, many of the videos have references to video games.  So if you’re fan of humor, video games, and CG, this is the channel for you.

Most Watched Video:


9.  OneDirectionVEVO

Subscribers: 6,416,734
Channel Views: 34.8 million
Estimated Earnings: $865.1K – $8.1M per year

This channel is the official YouTube channel for the English-Irish pop boy band One Direction.  I suspect that most of the 6.4 million subscribers are below the age of 18.

Most Watched Video:


8.  HolaSoyGerman

Subscribers: 6,756,586
Channel Views: 52.5 million
Estimated Earnings: $601.8K – $5.6M per year

This is the only channel where English is not the primary language used in the videos.  However, as the second most spoken language in the world (387 million native speakers compared to 365 million native English speakers), it’s not surprising that a Spanish speaking YouTube star would be on the list.

Most Watched Video:


7.  machinima

Subscribers: 7,566,208
Channel Views: 188.5 million
Estimated Earnings: $495.3K – $4.6M per year

As the name of the channel suggests, this channel consists mostly of machinima videos, which are videos made with video game engines.  While the presentation of the videos may be similar, they span many different genres from short comedy skits to longer episodes that are organized into seasons.  Thousands of machinima videos are uploaded onto this channel, and the best ones get filtered out to the general public.

Most Watched Video:


6.  PewDiePie

Subscribers: 7,665,132
Channel Views: 185.4 million
Estimated Earnings: $1.5M – $13.9M per year

This Swedish YouTuber is mainly known for one thing: playing video games while commentating.  This funny personality makes a lot of money by playing games and uploading the gameplay onto YouTube.  That’s pretty much the gist of it.  Makes me wonder why I haven’t tried to do something similar.

Most Watched Video:


5.  RihannaVEVO

Subscribers: 8,089,051
Channel Views: 37.9 million
Estimated Earnings: $1M – $9.7M per year

Rihanna is on YouTube.  ‘Nuff said.

Most Viewed Video:


4.  nigahiga

Subscribers: 8,240,748
Channel Views: 227.6 million
Estimated Earnings: $348K – $3.2M per year

This YouTube star was one of the very first YouTubers to make it big.  What started off as a hobby to release creative (and hilarious) energy for the masses ended with a full-time job doing just that, but now with higher production quality due to the mass influx of income.

Most Watched Video:


3.  RayWilliamJohnson

Subscribers: 8,688,393
Channel Views: 434.3 million
Estimated Earnings: $315.3K – $2.9M per year

Many people come to YouTube to watch viral videos.  Others come to YouTube for the YouTube personalities.  This person does both.  Most of RayWilliamJohnson’s success comes from reviewing viral videos of the week with dirty, unadulterated humor.

Most Watched Video:


2.  JennaMarbles

Subscribers: 8,751,999
Channel Views: 108.9 million
Estimated Earnings: $408.8K – $3.8M per year

JennaMarbles has only recently gained a huge following on YouTube.  What kind of videos does she make?  She mostly just sits there and talks about random sh..-tuff.  I will admit though, she has an awesome personality.  Wait.  That’s why they call them personalities, huh?  Epiphany!

Most Watched Video:


1.  smosh

Subscribers:  9,756,806
Channel Views:  265.7 million
Estimated Earnings: $659.2K – $6.2M per year

This YouTube channel is probably one of the oldest ones out there.  It features a comedy duo who make everything from vlogs to short comedy skits to weekly themed skits.  This pair has been active since 2002, and is still going strong.

Most Watched Video:


I will reiterate that since YouTube Partners are forbidden from disclosing the amount of money they make off of YouTube, only estimates and guesses can be made about the actual amount of money they make (hence the range of earnings).  However, no matter how big the range is between the lower and upper limits of the estimates, all of these stars definitely make over $100,000 a year.  In fact, thousands of YouTube stars currently make at least $100,000 a year.  On the other hand, many of these YouTube stars probably also spend a good amount of money on production – there is hardly a YouTube star these days who does everything him or herself.  Usually, it is a team of people who work together to create the best YouTube channels.

Regardless of financial situations of these stars, one thing is clear: they probably have one of the best jobs in the world.