A YouTuber is an individual who produces videos for the video-sharing website YouTube.[1] The name "YouTuber" refers to an individual whose main or only platforms are YouTube channel(s), personalized subpages of the YouTube video sharing platform.[2]



The term YouTuber is an English-language term, originating in 2006.[3]


YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim created the first YouTube channel "jawed" on April 22, 2005, becoming the first YouTuber.

The first YouTuber was Jawed Karim, who created his YouTube channel, jawed, on April 23, 2005 PDT (April 24, 2005 UTC).[4][5]


PewDiePie, who currently has the 4th most subscribed channel on the platform, is the most subscribed YouTuber.[6][7]

Influential YouTubers are frequently described as microcelebrities.[2] Since YouTube is widely conceived as a bottom-up social media video platform, microcelebrities do not appear to be involved with the established and commercial system of celebrity culture but rather appear self-governed and independent.[8][9] This appearance, in turn, leads to YouTubers being seen as more relatable and authentic, also fostered by the direct connection between artist and viewer using the medium of YouTube.[2][10]

In 2014, the University of Southern California surveyed 13-18 year-olds in the United States on whether 10 YouTube celebrities or 10 traditional celebrities were more influential; YouTube personalities took the first five spots of the ranking, with the YouTube duo Smosh ranking as most influential.[10][11] It repeated in 2015 and found six YouTubers on the first ranks, with KSI ranked as most influential.[10][12] Several prominent YouTubers and their influence were subjects for scientific studies, such as Zoella[2] and PewDiePie.[13] Numerous studies in the late 2010s found that YouTuber was the most desired career by children.[14][15][16]

YouTubers' influence has also extended beyond the platform. Some have ventured into mainstream forms of media, such as Liza Koshy, who, among other pursuits, hosted the revival of the Nickelodeon show Double Dare[17] and starred in the Netflix dance-comedy film Work It.[18] In 2019, Ryan's Mystery Playdate, a show starring Ryan Kaji, the then-seven-year-old host of the toy review and vlog channel Ryan's World, began airing on Nick Jr.;[19] later that year, NBC debuted A Little Late with Lilly Singh in its 1:35 AM ET time slot. Singh's digital prominence was cited as a reason for her selection as host by then-NBC Entertainment co-chairman George Cheeks.[20] In addition to expanding into other forms of media, several YouTubers have used their influence to raise money for charity or speak out on social issues. Notable examples include MrBeast and Mark Rober, who helped raise over $20 million with their Team Trees campaign,[21][22] and Felipe Neto, who publicly criticized Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro for his response to the coronavirus pandemic.[23] In 2020, Time named Neto and fellow YouTuber JoJo Siwa to its annual list of the world's 100 most influential people.[24][25]

Because of this level of influence, Robert Hovden argued for the creation of a new index similar to the g-index and h-index to evaluate a person's output and impact on YouTube.[26]

Commercial success

YouTubers can earn revenue from Google AdSense. Additionally, they can supplement their income through affiliate links, merchandising, and 3rd party memberships using platforms such as Patreon.[27] Popular channels have garnered corporate sponsors, who pay to be included in the videos.[27] In 2018, Walmart, Nordstrom, and others sought YouTube stars as influencers.[28]

In the early days of YouTube, there was no way to monetize videos on the platform. Much of the site's content was homemade and produced by hobbyists with no plans for making money on the site.[29][30] The first targeted advertising on the site came in the form of participatory video ads, which were videos in their own right that offered users the opportunity to view exclusive content by clicking on the ad.[31] The first such ad was for the Fox show Prison Break and solely appeared above videos on Paris Hilton's channel.[31][32] At the time, the channel was operated by Warner Bros. Records and was cited as the first brand channel on the platform.[32] Participatory video ads were designed to link specific promotions to specific channels rather than advertising on the entire platform at once. When the ads were introduced, in August 2006, YouTube CEO Chad Hurley rejected the idea of expanding into areas of advertising seen as less user-friendly at the time, saying, "we think there are better ways for people to engage with brands than forcing them to watch a commercial before seeing content. You could ask anyone on the net if they enjoy that experience and they’d probably say no."[32] However, YouTube began running in-video ads in August 2007, with preroll ads introduced in 2008.[33] In December 2007, YouTube launched the Partner Program, which allows channels that meet certain metrics (currently 1000 subscribers and 4000 public watch hours in the past year)[34] to run ads on their videos and earn money doing so.[33] The Partner Program allowed for the first time YouTube personalities to make a living from the platform.[35]:7

During the 2010s, the ability for YouTubers to achieve wealth and fame due to success on the platform increased dramatically. In December 2010, Business Insider estimated that the highest earner on YouTube during the previous year was Dane Boedigheimer, creator of the web series Annoying Orange, with an income of around $257,000.[36] Five years later, Forbes released its first list of the highest-earning YouTube personalities, estimating top earner PewDiePie's income during the previous fiscal year at $12 million, more than some popular actors such as Cameron Diaz or Gwyneth Paltrow.[37] Forbes estimated that the tenth-highest earner that year was Rosanna Pansino at $2.5 million.[a] That year, NME stated that "vlogging has become big business."[39] The rapid influx of wealth within the YouTube community has led some to criticize YouTubers for focusing on earnings more than the creativity and connection with their fanbase that some claim was at the heart of the platform before expanded monetization.[40][41][42]

See also


  1. ^ In December 2020, Forbes estimated that the highest-earning YouTuber was Ryan Kaji at $29.5 million. The tenth-highest was Jeffree Star at $15 million.[38]


  1. ^ "YouTuber" . Cambridge Dictionary. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d Jerslev, Anne (October 14, 2016). "In the Time of the Microcelebrity: Celebrification and the YouTuber Zoella" . International Journal of Communication. 10 (2016): 5233–5251. ISSN 1932-8036 .
  3. ^ Hamedy, Saba (December 28, 2016). "'YouTuber' is a real word now because the Oxford English Dictionary says so" . Mashable. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  4. ^ "jawed" . YouTube. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  5. ^ "Extract Meta Data" . Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  6. ^ Alexander, Julia (August 26, 2019). "PewDiePie Becomes the First Individual YouTube Creator to Hit 100 Million Subscribers" . The Verge. Vox Media. Archived from the original on August 26, 2019. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  7. ^ Spangler, Todd (September 12, 2019). "Top YouTuber PewDiePie Withdraws $50,000 Pledge to Anti-Defamation League, Calls It a 'Mistake'" . Variety. Penske Business Media. Archived from the original on September 13, 2019. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  8. ^ Marwick, Alice Emily (2013). Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age . New Haven. ISBN 978-0-300-19915-4. OCLC 862745861 .
  9. ^ Gamson, Joshua (2011). "The Unwatched Life Is Not Worth Living: The Elevation of the Ordinary in Celebrity Culture" . PMLA/Publications of the Modern Language Association of America. 126 (4): 1061–1069. doi:10.1632/pmla.2011.126.4.1061 . ISSN 0030-8129 . S2CID 59355773 .
  10. ^ a b c Dredge, Stuart (February 3, 2016). "Why are YouTube stars so popular?" . The Guardian. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  11. ^ Ault, Susanne (August 5, 2014). "Survey: YouTube Stars More Popular Than Mainstream Celebs Among U.S. Teens" . Variety. Retrieved August 6, 2021.
  12. ^ Ault, Susanne (July 23, 2015). "Digital Star Popularity Grows Versus Mainstream Celebrities" . Variety. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  13. ^ Beers Fägersten, Kristy (August 1, 2017). "The role of swearing in creating an online persona: The case of YouTuber PewDiePie". Discourse, Context & Media. 18: 1–10. doi:10.1016/j.dcm.2017.04.002 . ISSN 2211-6958 .
  14. ^ Weiss, Geoff (May 24, 2017). "The Most-Desired Career Among Young People Today Is 'YouTuber' (Study)" . Tubefilter. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  15. ^ Leskin, Paige (July 17, 2019). "American kids want to be famous on YouTube, and kids in China want to go to space: survey" . Insider. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  16. ^ Dzhanova, Yelena (August 3, 2019). "Forget law school, these kids want to be a YouTube star" . CNBC. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  17. ^ Nordyke, Kimberly (May 22, 2018). "'Double Dare' Reboot Taps YouTube Star Liza Koshy as Host" . The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  18. ^ Wright, Catherine (August 11, 2020). "'Work It': How Did Liza Koshy Learn to Dance Like That?" . Showbiz CheatSheet. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  19. ^ "Nickelodeon Embarks on New Direction with Its Biggest, Most Wide-Ranging Content Slate Ever - New Shows Are All That and Much More" . Nickelodeon (Press release). February 14, 2019. Retrieved March 2, 2021 – via The Futon Critic.
  20. ^ Alexander, Julia (September 17, 2019). "Lilly Singh's NBC series debut proves late night TV and YouTube need each other" . The Verge. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  21. ^ Williams, David (October 31, 2019). "YouTube star MrBeast wants to plant 20 million trees. Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, and more are helping him do it" . CNN. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  22. ^ "#teamtrees" . Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  23. ^ Phillips, Dom (November 12, 2020). "Felipe Neto: how a YouTuber became one of Jair Bolsonaro's loudest critics" . The Guardian. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  24. ^ "Felipe Neto Is on the 2020 TIME 100 List" . Time. September 22, 2020. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  25. ^ "JoJo Siwa Is on the 2020 TIME 100 List" . Time. September 22, 2020. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  26. ^ Hovden, Robert (September 12, 2013). "Bibliometrics for Internet media: Applying theh-index to YouTube". Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. 64 (11): 2326–2331. arXiv:1303.0766 . doi:10.1002/asi.22936 . ISSN 1532-2882 . S2CID 38708903 .
  27. ^ a b "Evan Edinger: The five ways YouTubers make money" . BBC Newsbeat. December 18, 2017. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  28. ^ Jones, Charisse (August 6, 2018). "Walmart, Nordstrom and others look to YouTube stars to woo millennials and Gen Z" . CNBC. NBCUniversal. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  29. ^ "YouTube hits 100m videos per day" . BBC News. July 17, 2006. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  30. ^ Gomes, Lee (August 30, 2006). "Will All of Us Get Our 15 Minutes On a YouTube Video?" . The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  31. ^ a b "YouTube expands types of advertising" . NBC News. August 22, 2006. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  32. ^ a b c Morrissey, Brian (August 22, 2006). "YouTube Shuns Pre-Roll Video Advertising" . Adweek. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  33. ^ a b Jackson, Nicholas (August 3, 2011). "Infographic: The History of Video Advertising on YouTube" . The Atlantic. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  34. ^ "YouTube Partner Program overview & eligibility" . YouTube Help. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  35. ^ Strangelove, Michael (2010). Watching YouTube: Extraordinary Videos by Ordinary People. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 1-4426-8703-7.
  36. ^ Wei, Will (December 29, 2010). "Meet The YouTube Stars Making More Money Than EMTs, Cops, Firefighters, And Teachers" . Business Insider. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  37. ^ Berg, Madeline (October 14, 2015). "The World's Highest-Paid YouTube Stars 2015" . Forbes. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  38. ^ Berg, Madeline; Brown, Abram (December 18, 2020). "The Highest-Paid YouTube Stars Of 2020" . Forbes. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  39. ^ Bassett, Jordan (August 13, 2015). "NME Investigation: Are YouTubers The New Pop Stars?" . NME. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  40. ^ Tufnell, Nicholas (November 27, 2013). "The rise and fall of YouTube's celebrity pioneers" . Wired. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  41. ^ Bloom, David (July 3, 2014). "YouTuber Dilemma: Staying 'Authentic' Amid 4K Cameras, Studio Money, Ad Dollars" . Deadline. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  42. ^ "YouTubers: Money First, Fans Later" . Medium. June 2, 2018. Retrieved February 28, 2021.

External links

Burgess, Jean (October 28, 2011). "YouTube" . Oxford Bibliographies Online.


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