The Creator Economy
At this year’s NATPE Global Brunico, the new owner of the most-established US content market, announced a Fireside Chat with Chris M. Williams, the forward-thinking leader at the helm of HQ, the largest independent kids and family content studio reshaping the landscape of creator-led entertainment. The insightful session revealed how the digital-focused studio has ingeniously transformed digital content into multiplatform global franchises, the impact of the overall creator economy on the media ecosystem and offered a glimpse into untapped opportunities and innovative ideas that could fuel further growth for the industry.
There are over 200 million creators worldwide, according to Linktree. They are using their skills, expertise, and creativity to attract an audience and monetize them. Of these creators, only about 2% (or 4 million of them) have more than 100.000 followers, while most creators (about 140 million of them globally) have between 1.000 and 10.000 followers. According to Goldman Sachs, the number is 50 million global creators, with a 10-20% compound annual growth rate during the next five years. Creators earn income primarily through direct branding deals to pitch products as an influencer; via a share of advertising revenues with the host platform; and through subscriptions, donations and other forms of direct payment from followers. Brand deals are the main source of revenue at about 70%, according to survey data. Only about 4% of global creators are deemed professionals, meaning they pull in more than $100.000 a year. Goldman Sachs Research expects their share of the creator universe to stay steady even as the overall ecosystem expands.

Goldman Sachs also expects for the creator economy to approach half-a-trillion dollars by 2027: “As the ecosystem grows, the total addressable market of the creator economy could roughly double in size over the next five years to $480 billion by 2027 from $250 billion today”, Eric Sheridan, Senior Equity Research Analyst, covering the U.S. Internet sector writes. “That growth is roughly in line with the team’s estimates for growth in global digital advertising spend over that period. The analysts expect spending on influencer marketing and platform payouts fueled by the monetization of short-form video platforms via advertising to be the primary growth drivers of the creator economy.”

TVBIZZ Magazine takes a closer look at the creator-led entertainment phenomenon and see who are the most-popular creators in 2023 and why are they still relevant. As Williams, who is the former Chief Audience Officer of Maker Studios and former GM of Disney Online Originals, told TVBIZZ Magazine: “I saw very clearly while at Disney and Maker Studios the movement of kids and family audiences from traditional linear TV to YouTube…I realized there was an opportunity to create a new company that could partner with these massive kids and family creators, stars, characters and IP coming from YouTube and extend them as true franchises into everything from premium series to gaming to consumer products.”

And YouTube is still going strong when it comes to kids’ preferences. The Google-owned video service is still the favored content platform for pre-teen children, despite TikTok’s recent surge in popularity. The latest “Precise Advertiser Report” published by Precise TV found that kids use YouTube much more frequently to watch videos. When asked what platforms they had logged on to recently to consume content, 86% of the 2.000 children surveyed cited YouTube. In contrast, just 38% said they had used TikTok for the same purpose. YouTube also came out on top as kids’ favourite social media app overall, with 43% of the vote. TikTok was second with 21%, followed by Facebook (19%), Instagram (10%) and Snapchat (4%).

TikTok and YouTube are tied as both the top-favored and top-earning platforms for creators of all ages in 2023, according to a survey by The Influencer Marketing Factory, with a combined 52% of influencers saying they earn the most money on either platform. Even as social platforms face an ad slowdown, the creator economy is alive and well, valued at $65.2 billion this year, according to Citigroup estimates. In 2023, according to the results of a survey conducted among creators based in the United States, 28% of them saw TikTok as their favorite platform, while by comparison 26% of creators earned the most money on the same platform. YouTube was the platform that earned the best for 26% of U.S. creators, while it was a favorite for 23% of them.

What are the numbers in kids entertainment? has the most popular kid stars on the planet and it has published some data about its most-popular stars. Leading the chart in both total subscribers and total lifetime views is Love, Diana with 304 million subs and 179 billion total lifetime views. Diana shares fascinating and playful adventures in her videos with her parents, Olena and Volodymyr, brother Roma, and baby Oliver. Her content includes vlogging, educational entertainment, roleplays, and children’s songs. Originally from Ukraine, the family behind the channel lives in Dubai for the last 3 years.

Ryan’s World is second in terms of popularity with 59.7 million subs and 81.6 billion total lifetime views. Ryan’s World is a children’s YouTube channel for children aged 2–6 featuring Ryan Kaji along with his mother, father, and twin sisters.

Toys and Colors is a family friendly YouTube channel featuring a group of girls, boys, Aunties, and Uncles who solve problems, learn, and develop good habits together. It is YouTube’s 3! Kid ensemble. They have over 80 million subscribers and receive 1B+ views per month across all of their extremely popular YouTube channel, with 65.2 billion lifetime views.

Who are the most-popular adult creators?

Forbes publishes the benchmark chart in this respect and for 2023 the 50 honorees on their second annual Forbes Top Creator list harnessed their combined 2.6 billion followers to haul in an estimated $700 million in earnings. That’s up more than 20% from 2022’s $570 million score. They’re not alone, in 2023 brands have spent an estimated $21 billion on creator marketing, up from just $1.6 billion seven years ago, according to the social media research firm, Influencer Marketing Hub.

To rank the world’s Top Creators, Forbes crunched data on the estimated earnings, follower counts, engagement rates, and entrepreneurial activities of thousands of internet personalities with the help of the creator marketing firm, Influential.

The first on the list is a real beast – literally. Jimmy Donaldson (MrBeast) has earnings of $82 million, total followers: 312 million and an average engagemen rate of 9.8%. MrBeast’s fan base is nearly as large as the U.S. population. MrBeast’s power and popularity stem from his high production videos and stunts that include surviving in Antarctica for 50 hours and building a Wonka chocolate factory. The YouTube titan has used his massive clout to earn a fortune in digital ad dollars—and build a real-world empire.

Second in the list of the top adult creators is Olajide Olatunji (KSI) with earnings of $24 million; 112 million total followers and an average engagement of 6.5%. Olajide Olatunji, known as KSI, began reacting to FIFA video games on YouTube in 2009, attracting millions of followers for his outlandish humor. He’s since gone from comedian to contender, transforming into a rapper and boxer, releasing two singles in 2023, and securing a multiyear distribution deal for his promotional company, Misfits Boxing. He’s the face of Prime Hydration alongside Logan Paul (6 on the Top Creators list).

Third is Jake Paul with earnings of $34 million; 66 million total followers and an average engagement of 1.6%. The outrage cycle is no stranger to Jake Paul, the Vine star turned boxer whose stunts on YouTube—such as surprise tattoos, eating dog food, and bathing in Icy Hot—have attracted millions of fans and attracted controversy including allegations of sexual misconduct, scamming fans, and most recently, an SEC charge for undisclosed cryptocurrency sponsorship. Still, Paul’s ability to orchestrate spectacles made him one of the highest-paid athletes in 2022. He landed a sponsorship with the energy drink Celsius, founded the sports betting app “Betr” that raised a $50 million Series A, and this year, signed an MMA contract to fight in a new pay-per-view division.

What about content creators and artificial intelligence (AI)?

Generative AI and its use in content creation is a hot topic right now. That’s enough to make creators wonder if they should be adding AI to their content creation process, The Leap notes.

In a survey from The Influencer Marketing Factory, 94.5% of content creators said they were already using AI tools for at least one task. Most of them are using it to edit content (21%), generate images and videos (20.9%), or generate text and captions for accessibility (19%). So, if you’re a creator, you should probably be at least trying AI out. While AI offers immense potential, ethical considerations must not be overlooked. The human touch that creators bring to their content is irreplaceable. Striking the right balance between AI-driven efficiency and human creativity will be a key challenge.
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