According to Forbes, Jimmy Donaldson, a 23-year-old American known as MrBeast, was YouTube’s highest-earning video creator in 2021.
His extravagant pranks have racked up over 10 billion views on YouTube and netted him $54 million.
He has surpassed Ryan Kaji, a 10-year-old toy reviewer who has led the annual list for the previous two years.
According to the US magazine, the top ten YouTubers earned a total of $300 million in 2021.
Jake Paul is in second position, making his first appearance in the top ten since 2018, and his brother Logan is back in the top ten after a two-year absence.
Minecraft player Nathan Graham, also known as Unspeakable, is ranked fifth for the first time.
This year’s list, according to YouTube trends expert Chris Stokel-Walker, is interesting because it demonstrates “how stagnant” YouTube has gotten.
“It strikes me how white and male this whole list is,” he said.
“If you take any of the names and look at previous years’ lists, you’ll probably find them on there as well, just in a different order.”
Many traditional entertainment media outlets struggled to shift during the pandemic. Movies have been pushed back, soap opera schedules have been changed, and video game releases have been postponed.
It was, however, a period of rapid growth for YouTube.
According to estimates, the network will have 2.3 billion users worldwide by 2021. Every day, one billion hours of video content are consumed on YouTube, according to the company.
“YouTube was developed as something that would shake up the media industry and get rid of gatekeepers. It was going to democratise how our society and entertainment industry looks. This list suggests that it’s become more like TV than it would prefer to be. The arrival of money on the platform means content is very high stakes – and we see this in what MrBeast is making,” Stokel-Walker said.
It’s unlike anything else one can find on YouTube. It’s more like a big-budget television show, Stokel-Walker added.
The high production levels of YouTube today, according to Stokel-Walker, are creating a barrier to entry, implying that you must “pay to play and be successful.”
Forbes has recognised the top earners as those who have been able to successfully earn money from brand collaborations, sponsorship deals, and item sales, rather than those who have the most views.
Despite the fact that two-thirds of YouTube content is not in English, it appears that English-speaking creators are the best equipped to profit from their fame.
YouTube, like many other modern media platforms, is dealing with issues of disinformation and harmful content, but this does not appear to be affecting the ability of its producers to attract advertising and sponsors to their channels.
(Adapted from BBC.com)