If you're wondering who the biggest star on YouTube is, you might want to ask your kid. Because, despite what you might think, the online video space isn't dominated by media bigwigs like "The Tonight Show" or Justin Bieber (sorry, Beliebers) but by a kid named Ryan who has a knack for reviewing toys.
Ryan, the face of Ryan ToysReview, started doing toy reviews on YouTube when he was 3. Now, at the age of 6, he's a multimillionaire and was one of the world's highest-paid YouTube stars between June 2016 to June 2017. Forbes placed his estimated earnings, before management fees and taxes, at a whopping $11 million for the year. (C'mon, does he even know how many zeroes are in $11 million yet?)
But before you start pulling out your camera, ordering toys for surprise videos and getting your kids camera-ready, know that it's incredibly hard to "make it" on YouTube. Sometimes what other children like to watch just doesn't make sense. Who could've predicted the wild success of watching other people unbox toys that you might never even get to see IRL! And the thing is, although it might seem like easy work, especially when Ryan is raking in millions by doing things he loves or just being a kid, the videos take a lot of work.
According to the Verge, Ryan's mom, who keeps herself mostly anonymous (as well as other facts about Ryan, for good reason), quit her job as a high school chemistry teacher to work on the YouTube channel full-time.
It started when Ryan was just 3 and he asked his mom why he wasn't on YouTube when other kids were.
"So we just decided—yeah, we can do that. Then, we took him to the store to get his very first toy—I think it was a Lego train set—and it all started from there," the mom told TubeFilter.
Ryan's dad also mentioned that starting the videos was a good way for Ryan to share his childhood memories with his extended family outside of the U.S. Their first foray into the YouTube space was a 15-minute video showing Ryan picking out and playing with a Lego Duplo train. It was pretty low-key and barely had any views.
The channel took off about four months in, when the family published "100+ cars toys GIANT EGG SURPRISE OPENING Disney Pixar Lightning McQueen kids video Ryan ToysReview," which doubled its views every month. In the video, Ryan isn't playing with just one toy at a time but dozens. There are so many toy cars and planes from "Cars" on the floor by the end of the video that we swear we've had enough of Lightning McQueen for a lifetime.
Ryan ToysReview's most popular video to date is an egg surprise toy challenge showing Ryan crawling through a giant inflatable waterslide, finding giant Easter eggs, cracking them open and playing with the toys. The video currently has over 1 billion views.
Along the way, the videos have gotten more fun as the family has played with special effects and other types of challenges. Sometimes Ryan may be playing "The Floor Is Lava" with his family, comparing chocolate items to their real counterparts or just hanging out at Chuck. E. Cheese. But whatever he's doing, the young star and host has mesmerized children across the globe and gained at least 10 million subscribers so far.
The multi-platform children's media startup Pocket.watch made a major deal with Ryan ToysReview in September that includes plans to flesh out the franchise in books, apps, licensing and merchandising.
"They have done an amazing job in two years, to go from zero to 200 miles per hour," said Pocket.watch chief strategy officer Jon Moonves.
And it doesn't look like they'll be slowing down any time soon.