According to Forbes, the highest earning YouTube star in 2018 is a seven-year-old boy.
Ryan (last name unknown) earned $22 million in 2018, thanks to the billions of views his Ryan ToysReview videos have garnered.
The videos, which began when Ryan was just three years old, feature Ryan playing with and unboxing toys and mystery eggs in his home. At this point, Ryan’s channel has over 17 million subscribers and have been collectively viewed more than 25 billion times.
I had never heard of Ryan until a couple of days ago, so I had to go check out his channel. Here is his most watched video, with over 1.6 billion views (that’s right, billion):
As I watched the video, my first thought was “Are you serious?”, and my second thought was, “I could do this.” How hard is it to run around and find some hidden eggs, open them up, and then play with them for a few minutes?
So what is the secret to Ryan’ success?
Retail experts say it’s all about authenticity.
“Ryan is an amazing little boy and kids are just enamored with him,” said Jackie Breyer, editorial director of The Toy Insider. “They can relate to him. And kids just love to watch. They want to play with him, they consider him a friend of theirs. And he has all the coolest toys.”
Chris Williams, chief executive officer of Pocketwatch, which represents Ryan and helped broker his toy deal, the magic of Ryan lies in kids’ abilities to relate to him. “They see themselves in Ryan in a way that I don’t think they do with maybe fictional characters, or with stars who come from TV and film,” said Williams. “He’s just a regular kid.”
Earlier this year, Ryan went beyond the world of videos — putting his name and face on a collection of Ryan’s World toys that’s now being sold at Walmart, Target, and on Amazon. The collection features products that Ryan loves to play with his and has shown his fans in his videos — including slime, putty, and Squishies. He’s also the subject of a new early reader book from Simon & Schuster that was released earlier this month, and he’s behind a new mobile game and collection of toys, to be released in 2019.
In other words, he has morphed into Ryan, Inc., a mini-tycoon.
I’m happy for Ryan’s success; no, really, I am.
I don’t feel inadequate at all. I’m 61 years old; Ryan is seven. And he makes 100 times more than I do…
But Ryan has motivated me to look more into this YouTube thing.
One possibility – I wonder if there is any demand for watching me grade an accounting exam. Given the morbid curiosity of a crowd, I think a lot of people would tune in hoping to witness students failing miserably. I’m sure I could add some colorful comments along the way. (Seriously, you put Sales Revenue on a Balance Sheet? What were you thinking?) But since everyone loves a good ending, I would save one of the best tests for last, creating suspense along the way to see if the student earns a perfect score.
The only problem – I don’t know who would want to place an ad on such videos. Maybe the Big 4 accounting firms. Maybe textbook publishers. Maybe some craft brewers. I’d be open to just about anybody placing an ad.
If such videos catch on, I could then start branching out; posting videos of faculty meetings, my teaching, my blog writing.
The possibilities are endless, and likely will lead to about 10 subscribers.
So I wonder if Ryan needs a sidekick. Someone to play a clueless adult in his videos. (You know the type I mean – someone who can’t open an egg, someone who gets slime dumped all over him, someone who always loses at games.) I’d be a natural, and if the price is right, I’m available.
And if you couldn’t get enough of Ryan from the one video above, here is one from yesterday morning when he and his twin sisters opened their Christmas presents:
Congratulations to Ryan and his family for their success; I wish them the best in the years ahead.