NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Watching people play video games on YouTube is a thing. It's such a big thing that one guy makes an estimated $4 million a year – or more -- playing video games while others watch. Felix Kjellberg – aka PewDiePie – has over 28 million subscribers and earns his fortune from ad sales delivered by his YouTube channel.
In January, Social Blade estimated Kjellberg's earnings as being potentially even higher – at a point when his subscriber base was a paltry 20 million viewers.
"According to our Estimated Yearly Earnings, this means that PewDiePie is earning between $115k and $1.5 million per month," the Social Blade blog reported. "That translates to a whopping $1.4 to $16.6 million per year. His real earnings are likely somewhere near the middle to high end of the range, which is calculated based on low and high CPMs (cost per thousand) and his views."
The concept is simple and low budget: the screen shows a video game being played while Kjellberg, in a corner inset video, narrates the action – cussing, joking, cavorting and otherwise acting like, well – a guy playing a video game.
"I'm so central to YouTube now, and that puts me in the spotlight and raises a lot of questions like 'Why is he so big?'" Kjellberg told the Wall Street Journal. "I'd much rather prefer to have something like 5 million subscribers."
The 24-year-old Swede's website even features a fan shop of T-shirts emblazoned with "Do You Even Goat, Brah?" starting at $21.99.
But "Pewds," as fans call him, is not alone. Nearly half of the top 20 YouTube channels, as ranked by Social Blade, are similar "Let's Play" (LP) video gamers, earning anywhere from just hundreds of dollars a month -- to annual earnings of $60,000 or much more. Twitch, a website solely devoted to LP game-streaming, is reportedly a buy-out target of YouTube – in an all-cash deal Variety says will be worth $1 billion.
Quick. Put a camera on your kids and start a YouTube channel.
--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet