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Ranking the Top 12 Digital Stars: Variety’s 2015 #Famechangers

It’s time to get past the hype of digital celebrities and drill down to the cold, hard numbers.

With thousands of social-media stars emerging online, Variety teamed up with research firm Tubular Labs to identify bona fide “Famechangers” — those whose influence stands head and shoulders above the rest (see ranking below).

That meant discarding the vanity metric of subscriber counts, which too often are used as a benchmark, and assembling an array of statistics combined into one Tubular Influencer Score (see methodology below). TIS gives a far more accurate representation of who has the most influence among the 2.5 million creators Tubular tracks.

Famechangers is also focused on who is resonating right now — historical data are de-emphasized — across multiple major content platforms. But as the place where most online monetization happens, YouTube alone provides the basis for the ranking. To reflect the diversity of YouTube talent, the ranking includes one representative from each of the 12 content categories defined by Google Preferred, which connects advertisers with the top tier of YouTube’s creators.

From Idaho to Australia, these 12 Famechangers have all taken different paths to success. But as individual personalities who amass audiences that exceed those of some of the biggest media brands, they all redefine conventional notions of celebrity.

1. PewDiePie // Gaming’s crown prince laughs all the way to the bank, with $7.4 million
2. Nigahiga // Comedy comes easy to a Hawaiian-born cut-up who’s tight with his fans
3. Joey Graceffa // One-man reality show charms his way into subscribers’ hearts
4. MyLifeAsEva // A passion for fashion keeps this style maven in step with her audience
5. MKBHD // Techno tastemaker gives consumers the scoop on hot gadgets
6. Vsauce // Science guy mixes fact with humor, looks to expand his universe
7. The Young Turks // Interactive news equals views for online journalists
8. Shaytards // The kids are all right in a long-running family vlog
9. Rosanna Pansino // Confection queen rises with nerd-themed goodies
10. Dude Perfect // Acrobatic athletes team up to entertain the masses
11. Lindsey Stirling // Chanteuse aims high with creating surreal performances
12. Mighty Car Mods // Aussie auto bodies gear up for fans

The Famechangers ranking is based on Tubular Influencer Score, which Tubular Labs calculates by combining more than 10 metrics that reflect audience reach and engagement for YouTube channels. TIS is scored on a range from 0-1,000, and is recalculated on a weekly basis based on the previous 90 days of data. Not every metric displayed in the Famechangers charts is included in the influencer score. The scores featured in Famechangers are based on data collected as of July 16, 2015. While some creators maintain multiple channels, TIS takes into account only their primary channels. To keep the focus on individual influencers, the tabulation of scores does not include established stars (i.e. Ellen DeGeneres), established or digital-native premium brands (i.e. PBS, BuzzFeed) or foreign-language influencers (i.e. elrubiusOMG). Those who appear on the list are ranked according to a calculation of which English-language-speaking individual talent, whose primary audience is the U.S., achieved the highest Influencer Score in each content category in the Google Preferred initiative. In one category, music, the top scorer changed between date of calculation and time of publication (Kurt Hugo Schneider is now ranked higher than Lindsey Stirling). Because Joey Graceffa (No. 3) and MyLifeAsEva (No. 4) have the same TIS (844), Variety used total video views for the month of June as a tiebreaker, which resulted in Graceffa being ranked ahead.

Note: Certain YouTube creators are categorized differently between Google Preferred and YouTube content categories. Google Preferred takes precedence when there are inconsistencies between the two. Any creators not identified as being part of the Google Preferred program are slotted by their YouTube content category.

Est. Annual Ad Income figures provided by Outrigger Media’s OpenSlate, based on data as of June 22. Revenues reflect talent’s cut from YouTube advertising, no brand sponsorships or outside deals included.

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