YouTube has become the new breeding ground for celebrities. We’ve got fitness gurus, product pushers, comedians, gossip peddlers, gamers, you name it. Some of these people make quite a lot of money, but one of them is worthy of special attention because he happens to be a six-year-old boy. His name is Ryan and he has earned an eye-popping $11 million this year by doing something all kids love: playing with toys. The difference is that Ryan works (sort of) for his money by reviewing the toys on his channel, “Ryan Toys Review.”
Forbes magazine has just released its 2017 list of the 10 YouTubers with the highest income and young Ryan rank at number 8, tying for the spot with comedy channel Smosh. The estimate covers the period from June 1, 2016 to June 1, 2017, during which time Ryan’s videos clocked up more than 8 billion views in total and earned his family a cool $11 million in ad revenue. The boy is so popular worldwide that other kids have started imitating him and launching their own channels.
Photo: Ryan ToysReview/YouTube
The start of it all was actually quite unremarkable: the first video was posted in March 2015 by Ryan’s parents and showed him unboxing a Lego Duplo train set, arranging the blocks, and playing with them. But the videos got better as time went by and, nowadays, the channel has over 10 million subscribers and legions of adoring little fans all over the world.
Ryan’s last name and place of residence in the US are kept under wraps to safeguard his privacy. His mother, who also speaks on condition of anonymity, recalls how his journey to YouTube stardom started:
“Ryan was watching a lot of toy review channels — some of his favorites are EvanTubeHD and Hulyan Maya — because they used to make a lot of videos about Thomas the Tank Engine, and Ryan was super into Thomas. One day, he asked me, ‘How come I’m not on YouTube when all the other kids are?’ 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.”
According to Ryan’s father, who often features in the videos, the channel also allows them to keep their extended family up to date with their son’s life as many of the relatives live abroad. There are clips that show Ryan doing everyday stuff, for example getting a haircut, enjoying himself at a birthday party, or shopping for toys with his parents.
Maintaining the channel has now become a full-time job for Ryan’s mother, who used to teach chemistry to high school students. The parents say they will stop making the videos if Ryan gets fed up with it.
“Right now, he loves making videos. Every time I tell him we’re going to film, he gets so excited. As long as he’s loving it and it doesn’t disrupt his daily routine, we plan on continuing. But the moment he’s not having fun anymore, that’s when it will be time to stop,” his mother has said.
You can’t help but wonder whether Ryan would want to give it all up one day. Sure, he can’t go on reviewing toys forever, but now that he’s tasted fame and fortune, maybe he will make YouTube his source of income for the rest of his life. Good luck to him, whatever he decides.