YouTube's 10 biggest moneymaking stars

There's a mountain of ad revenue to be made creating videos on YouTube, judging from these top 10 channels.

By MSN Money staff Mar 11, 2014 5:23PM

Felix Kjellberg, aka PewDiePie © Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
By Harrison Jacobs, Business Insider

Business Insider on MSN MoneyYouTube videos can be big business for top independent content creators. These are the YouTube stars who have huge online fan bases — even though most people have never heard of them.

Business Insider ranked the biggest stars, who could each be earning more than $1 million a year in ad revenue, in some cases much more.

A range of earnings estimates for each channel was provided by YouTube analytics company SocialBlade. Its estimates are placed within upper and lower limits, based on the channels' daily views multiplied by a low cost-per-thousand impression advertising (CPM) rate of $0.60 and a high rate of $5. The range is wide to account for differences in the type of ad (including kinds of banner ads and pre-roll) and brand value. These estimates also assume that every video is monetized, which is not always the case.

Even after subtracting the 45 percent cut that goes to YouTube's parent, Google (GOOG), these stars have got it made.

10. TobyGames/TobyTurner/Tobuscus

  • $226K-$2.18M estimated yearly income across three channels (after YouTube's cut)
  • 13.96M total subscribers
  • 2.87B total views

Toby Turner is one of the most popular Internet comedians, having amassed a whopping 13.96 million subscribers across his three YouTube channels. He first joined in 2006, when he produced a popular parody of the Adam Sandler movie "Click." He has since created the popular series CuteWinFail, the YouTube equivalent of America's Funniest Home Videos, and Literal Trailers. He has begun to make the transition into traditional media, scoring roles in independent films and major advertising campaigns. Last July, Turner was signed away from gaming video giant Machinima to Maker Studios.

9. BFvsGF/PrankvsPrank

  • $223K-$2.26M estimated yearly income across both accounts (after YouTube's cut)
  • 7.70M total subscribers
  • 1.31B total views

PrankvsPrank began after Jesse Wellens tricked his girlfriend into letting him film her eating a spoonful of cinnamon. The resulting video went viral, which didn't sit well with his girlfriend, Jeanna. She retaliated by filming her smacking Jesse in the head with a pan. It quickly escalated into a prank war that has catapulted the two into Internet stardom.

8. TheWillyRex/WillyRex

  • $231K-$2.31M estimated yearly income across both accounts (after YouTube's cut)
  • 6.95M total subscribers
  • 1.03B total views

The Fine Brothers (Rafi & Benny) at the 2010 Streamy Awards Via The Bui Brothers; Streamy Awards Photo 0333; Creative CommonsMadrid native Guillermo Diaz is a Spanish video-game commentator known for his game-play videos of Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto V. He first became popular for being one of the best Call Of Duty players in Spain and has since become a full-time Internet personality after quitting school to produce videos for YouTube.

7. TheFineBros

  • $239K-$2.41M estimated yearly income (after YouTube's cut)
  • 7.85M total subscribers
  • 1.41B total views

Brooklyn natives Benny and Rafi Fine are two online producer/writer/directors who created the extremely successful React video series. In React's various iterations (Kids React, Teens React, Elders React and YouTubers React), TheFineBros show viral videos to subjects and film their reactions. The duo has been sponsored by both Ford and Comedy Central. Many consider TheFineBros to be two of the first YouTube stars.

6. Vegetta777

  • $257K-$2.59M estimated yearly income (after YouTube's cut)
  • 4.46M total subscribers
  • 552M total views

Samuel de Luque is a wildly popular Spanish YouTuber who has become known for his voice-overs of game-play videos for Minecraft, Saint's Row and Battlefield. His signature style is to create elaborate narratives and histories for the characters in his video-game videos to make them "like a movie." His fanbase is primarily based in Spain and Latin America. He often collaborates with TheWillyRex and other popular Spanish-language YouTubers.

5. SkyDoesMinecraft

  • $293,000-$2.92M estimated yearly income (after YouTube's cut)
  • 8.99M total subscribers
  • 1.66B total views

Adam Dahlberg is a massively popular Minecraft YouTuber who originally got popular as part of a Minecraft team called Team Crafted. Like many Minecraft YouTubers, Dahlberg frequently posts game-play videos and commentary.

4. Smosh

  • $448K-$4.50M estimated yearly income (after YouTube's cut)
  • 27.71M total subscribers
  • 4.6B total views

Smosh is a comedy duo consisting of YouTube veterans Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla. Smosh was one of the first YouTube sensations, becoming well-known for their slapstick comedy videos that parody video games and pop culture. The duo has shown no signs of slowing down, opening up multiple channels and an app for their content. Currently, they have eight YouTube channels producing content, all with significant views and subscribers, including Smosh; IanH; WatchUsLiveAndStuff; ElSmosh; SmoshGames; and Anthony Padilla. They have also been in talks to begin airing their comedy content on television.

3. DisneyCollectorBR

  • $505K-$5.06M estimated yearly income (after YouTube's cut)
  • 1.05M total subscribers
  • 1.51B total views

DisneyCollectorBR is the YouTube channel of an unnamed Brazilian woman who posts videos of herself opening, assembling and playing with Disney toys, all while providing commentary in a soothing voice. It's a favorite of many children, whose parents find that they can put the videos on to calm and entertain their kids. 

2. BluCollection

  • $660K-$6.38M estimated yearly income (after YouTube's cut)
  • 628K total subscribers
  • 1.38B total views

Like DisneyCollectorBR, BluCollection is a YouTube channel dedicated to opening, assembling and playing with a variety of toys. The unnamed YouTuber gives reviews of car toys, Disney toys and Play-Doh.

1. PewDiePie

  • $825K-$8.47M estimated yearly income (after YouTube's cut)
  • 23.9M total subscribers
  • 3.69B total views

Felix Arvid Ulf Kjelberg is a foul-mouthed Swedish video-game commentator who has absolutely dominated YouTube over the last year. His videos feature Kjelberg playing various video games, while a box in the top corner of the screen shows his reactions to what is happening. Kjelberg has broken numerous YouTube growth records, jumping from 12M subscribers in August 2013 to over 20M in January 2014. Many attribute his success to the attention he pays to his fans. Kjelberg spends lots of time talking about his fans, answering their questions in the YouTube comments section, and forming a community of "bros."

Now be sure to check out Business Insider for the full list of the richest stars on YouTube.

More from Business Insider


Mar 11, 2014 7:07PM
Pewdiepie is just about the most irritating person on YouTube. If you want a really interesting science channel on YouTube you HAVE to check out Vsauce. Their videos are very informative as well as interesting.
Mar 12, 2014 9:20AM

I was on youtube the other day, and saw a GTA video that had 3 million views, and tens of thousands of likes.

Then I saw a science video on scishow. (science/education) that had a few thousand views, and a few hundred likes.

We're screwed.

Mar 11, 2014 5:50PM
What? Where's the real YouTubers, like, Jenna Marbles, Epic Meal Time, My Drunk Kitchen (Hanna Hart), You Deserve a Drink (Mamrie Hart), Daily Grace/My Damn Channel (Grace Helbig)? (Too bad, LivePrudeGirls don't post videos anymore, cuz they were awesome, as well). I have never heard of any of the above, except for "Kids React to..." (et al).
Mar 12, 2014 11:57AM
YouTube has way too many ads now. It's getting as bad as regular TV. I skip them whenever I can, but it's still really annoying.
Mar 12, 2014 1:39PM
I am a youtube partner, but I am only averaging about $150 per year at this point from adsense lol.  I am not a vlogger, I just put up random videos and vacation videos on there for mostly family.  I figured if it is just free money I might as well take it, you never know when something might go viral.
Mar 12, 2014 1:37PM
and neurons everywhere are stumbling over themselves to commit suicide. 
Mar 12, 2014 11:53AM
Quite a spread on the possible income, I get that there's no way to really verify what they are making  but still even with  the low figure it's not a bad income.
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