Forbes has released its list of top YouTube earners from June 2017 to June 2018, and at the top of the list is someone who can barely read: seven-year-old Ryan of the channel Ryan ToysReview. The tyke, along with the help of his parents, raked in an estimated $22 million from his toy unboxing channel, pre-taxes, after making $11 million last year.
Ryan used to be such a fan of toy review videos that when he was four, he asked his parents if he could make one himself. They acquiesced, only to watch their son’s channel grow into an empire that now has 17 million subscribers and literally billions of hits. And it all started with a viral video in which he plays with a lot of toy cars. It’s been watched 934,621,669 times.
Seven-year-old Ryan’s mother quit her job as a high school chemistry teacher to work full-time on her son’s channel. Forbes said that 15% of Ryan’s earnings go into a protected account which he cannot access until he becomes an adult.
In addition to the wildly lucrative ad revenues associated with his highly-viewed and advertiser-friendly content, Ryan — who does not disclose his last name — also has a line of toys and apparel that is sold at Walmart stores nationwide. (That line was created with the help of his studio partner Pocket.watch, which has also repackaged Ryan’s content for distribution on Hulu and Amazon).
That said, Ryan’s product line launched in October, after the Forbes’ cutoff, and thus the magazine estimates that the majority of his earnings in 2018 — to the tune of $21 million — were derived from pre-roll ads on his YouTube channel, where he counts 17 million subscribers and a whopping 26 billion lifetime views. (Ryan headlines the third most-viewed channel on all of YouTube behind Bollywood production company T-Series and the WWE). The remaining $1 million resulted from sponsored posts — a relatively small ratio compared to other creators on its list, Forbes notes, given that Ryan’s family is careful about accepting brand deals, and the children’s influencer marketing industry is relatively underdeveloped.
Ryan is followed on Forbes’ list of the highest-paid YouTube stars by Jake Paul (who the magazine estimates made $21.5 million last year), Dude Perfect ($20 million), DanTDM ($18.5 million), Jeffree Star ($18 million), Markiplier ($17.5 million), Vanoss Gaming ($17 million), Jacksepticeye ($16 million), PewDiePie ($15.5 illion), and Logan Paul ($14.5 million).