When Forbes released their list of the highest paid YouTube stars for 2018, a 7-year-old boy came out on top. The child, who goes by “Ryan ToysReview” on YouTube, earned $22million this year, ahead of controversial brothers Logan and Jake Paul, beauty and cosmetics mogul Jeffree Star, and gamer PewDiePie. Ryan ToysReview’s page centers around Ryan playing with and reviewing toys “for kids by a kid.”
According to The Washington Post, Ryan ToysReview’s account was made in March 2015, when he was only 3 years old. According to Forbes, he is signed with Pocket.watch, a kids’ entertainment studio; in October, it was “announced that content from his channel will be repackaged and distributed on Hulu and Amazon.”
About and beyond his YouTube super-success, here’s what you need to know about Ryan:
1. Ryan’s Most Successful YouTube Videos Feature ‘Unboxing’
According to The Washington Post, Ryan’s YouTube channel rose in popularity a few months after he and his parents started posting, due to a viral video they made called “100+ cars toys GIANT EGG SURPRISE OPENING Disney Pixar Lightning McQueen kids video Ryan ToysReview.” The video has over 900,000,000 views to date and features Ryan playing with a huge collection of Disney Pixar Cars toys that he pulls from a giant paper mache Easter egg.
The Washington Post describes “unboxing videos” as “footage of people opening packages of newly purchased items.” Many of Ryan’s videos take this format which The Verge refers to as “this strange new genre, a mash-up of personal vlog and “unboxing” video, a blend of innocent childhood antics and relentless, often overwhelming consumerism.”
2. The Toys in His Reviews Get Donated to Charity
Ryan’s dad told TubeFilter that in the beginning, they chose what toys to feature based on the most popular keywords in other videos (which were Disney Cars and Thomas the Tank Engine). They claim to purchase the toys they feature in videos, which are based on Ryan’s interests, but some toy brands have started sponsoring videos and providing products as advertisements.
In the YouTube channel’s description, it says “Most of the toys we used to review are being donated to local charity.” Ryan’s mom confirmed this with TubeFilter, adding that for the toys that aren’t given to charity, family, or friends, “one room in our house is completely dedicated to toy storage, and another is used as a filming studio.”
3. The Majority of His Viewers Are Kids His Age
Before Ryan started reviewing toys in his own videos, his mom told TuberFilter that Ryan was watching other popular toy review channels. Forbes attributes a lot of his success to the “YouTube Kids App,” which they liken to the Millennials’ VCR. The app has more than 11million weekly viewers, which means Ryan’s daily video uploads have an ideal audience for taking over a specific, but powerful, online demographic.
The Washington Post writes about Ryan’s popularity, “He’s got every small kid’s dream job, opening toys and playing with them, day after day. He’s smiley, too, totally non-threatening to parents and children alike. No bad words. No preachy banter. He’s a miniature Mister Rogers but without the sweater and slippers.” On many of Ryan’s videos, parents have commented on the impact his reviews have on their kids, and share stories about the ways in which their children enjoy his content.
4. Almost All of His Earnings Come From YouTube Ads
Forbes estimates that $21million of his earnings this year “comes from pre-roll advertising on his channels Ryan ToysReview and Ryan’s Family Review.” Inc. reports that because of the channel’s success, they were able to “into some special YouTube programs that provide higher ad rates.” According to Forbes, he has also recently released a line of collectible toys through Walmart, which will only add to his financial success.
Forbes noted that because Ryan is a minor, 15% of his earnings goes into a “Coogan account, which is protected until he becomes a legal adult.” They also acknowledged that a decent percentage goes to managers and production fees.
5. His Parents Have Intentionally Kept Their Last Name & Hometown From Public Knowledge
Ryan’s parents are heavily featured in his videos, often guiding him through his latest toy adventure or participating in games and play right alongside him. They even have a second YouTube account, “Ryan’s Family Review,” that shares vlog-style content of Ryan, his younger twin sisters, and his parents.
Despite their active involvement in his YouTube videos and the fame to which their young son has risen, his parents have done a good job guarding the family’s last name and city of residence from fans. To preserve some level of privacy, and control what information is released on their family and how it is released, his parents have chosen to not even share their first names for interviews. When TubeFilter interviewed them about their son’s success in 2016, they asked to stay anonymous, being referred to as “Mom and Dad” (or “Mommy and Daddy” on their family pages) instead.