Felix Kjellberg, the video-game vlogger and comedian better known as PewDiePie, remains by far the wealthiest YouTube creator — with a gross income of $15 million for the 12 months ended in June 2016, according to estimates by Forbes.
PewDiePie has nearly 50 million subscribers, and the Swedish-born personality mischievously declared in a video last Friday that he would delete his channel once it hit that milestone. In the video, PewDiePie complains about changes in YouTube’s video recommendations and the service’s reported issues with subscribers being notified of new content.
Kjellberg’s haul for the latest 12-month period is an increase of 20% year-over-year, per the estimates by Forbes, which attributed the gain largely to his YouTube Red series, “Scare PewDiePie,” and sales of his first book, “This Book Loves You.” Meanwhile, Kjellberg’s production company reported revenue of $8.6 million for 2015, according to an annual report filed in Sweden.
The Forbes list estimates earnings before subtracting management fees and taxes. According to the publication, it compiles the figures are based on data from Nielsen, IMDb and other sources, as well as on interviews with agents, managers, lawyers, other industry execs and the stars themselves.
Coming in at the No. 2 spot on this year’s Forbes list was Roman Atwood, a prank specialist who has been branching out into vlogging his life as a dad, who made $8 million for the 12-month period. That’s an increase of 70% year-over-year, with his earnings boosted by a live tour with fellow YouTube star Yousef Erakat (aka fouseyTube), the movie “Natural Born Pranksters,” which Atwood directed, produced, and starred in; an advance for his upcoming book, “Will Work for Smiles”; and merchandise sales.
In the third spot with $7.5 million is Lilly Singh (||Superwoman||), who starred in a film about her worldwide concert tour, “A Trip to Unicorn Island,” on YouTube Red. She’s followed by comedy team Smosh, whose principals are Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla; Tyler Oakley, who has inked a pact with Ellen DeGeneres for his own digital talk show; and Rosanna Pansino, host of cooking show “Nerdy Nummies.”
Rounding out the top 10 are game vlogger Mark Fischbach, better known as Markiplier, who recently signed with WME; German Garmendia (whose channel is Hola Soy German); Rhett and Link, hosts of daily talk show “Good Mythical Morning”; and Colleen Ballinger, whose awkward character Miranda Sings was the basis for Netflix original series “Haters Back Off.”
Here are the Forbes estimates for the 10 highest-paid YouTube stars for the 12 months ended June 2016:
- Felix Kjellberg (aka PewDiePie): $15 million
- Roman Atwood: $8 million
- Lilly Singh (aka ||Superwoman||): $7.5 million
- Smosh (Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla): $7 million
- (tie) Tyler Oakley, Rosanna Pansino: $6 million
- (tie) Mark Fischbach (aka Markiplier), German Garmendia: $5.5 million
- (tie) Rhett and Link, Colleen Ballinger (Miranda Sings): $5 million