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State of the Screens

Are Creators Building the Next Hollywood?

By October 6, 2023No Comments

Five big questions re: the creator economy:
1) Who are the highest-paid creators?
2) Who is MrBeast, and why does he matter?
3) How does MrBeast make money?
4) What share of time with media does user-generated content (UGC) account for?
5) How will the creator economy evolve in the future?

Big question #1: Who are the highest-paid creators?

Highest-paid creators in 2022, according to Forbes:

1) MrBeast (Jimmy Donaldson) – $82M
2) Rhett & Link – $35M
3) PrestonPlayz (Preston Arsement) – $35M
4) Ryan Kaji (Ryan’s World) – $35M
5) Jake Paul – $34M
6) Markiplier (Mark Edward Fischbach) – $30M
7) FuckJerry (Elliot Tebele) – $30M
8) Jacksepticeye (Sean McLoughlin) – $27M
9) Matt Rife – $25M
10) KSI (Olajide Olatunji) – $24M

Big question #2: Who is MrBeast, and why does he matter?

Quick answer: Jimmy Donaldson (aka MrBeast) is one of the most popular YouTube creators entertainers.

Key details for MrBeast:
1) 25 years old
2) Began posting videos at 13
3) 300M followers across accounts
4) 250 employees
5) Business valued @ $1.5B
6) HQ in Greenville, NC (hometown)

Why this matters: If you grew up with YouTube, MrBeast is as well-known as any celebrity. His videos are helping redefine the definition of TV itself.

Interesting: Compared to Netflix’s most popular shows, MrBeast’s videos have similar engagement.

Why this matters: Terry Kawaja of Luma Partners points out that the reclassification of “TV” has just begun.  All TV/video advertising could be affected by this.

Wow: MrBeast employs 6-7 people dedicated to crafting/optimizing thumbnails!

Video: MrBeast: Future of YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram | Lex Fridman Podcast #351

Big question #3: How does MrBeast make money?

Quick answer: ≈ 66% ($54M) comes from YouTube.  New ventures such as Feastables and MrBeast Burger account for 34%.

Bottom line: MrBeast’s business empire continues to grow with the announcement of Feastables as the first influencer-led brand to sponsor an NBA jersey patch.


Flashback #1: Is MrBeast the Real Squid Games’ Winner?

Quote from Troy Young – Adviser/Investor + Former Global President @ Hearst Magazines:

“Jimmy Donaldson, AKA MrBeast, is certainly an uncanny marketer. Few celebrities would have the promotional energy to make something like this possible. The secret to his fast food success is not the burger, of course. It’s a YouTube-powered fan machine with 100 million subscribers, a content formula that combines outrageous stunts, game show drama, philanthropy and lots of cash giveaways. MrBeast and crew are extraordinary purveyors of digital attention gimmickry.”

“Perhaps the phenomenon says something bigger about the reshaping of our economy. MrBeast reflects a world where products and physical distribution are fungible and mental distribution is the scarce resource you scale a business around.”


Wow: 20K people lined up for the opening of a MrBeast burger shop in a New Jersey mall.  What would be considered a success for a current QSR burger joint?  200 people?

Big question #4: What share of time with media does user-generated content (UGC) account for?

Share of time with media by content type, according to Variety:
1) User-generated – 39%
2) Traditional TV + paid streaming – 38%
3) Other traditional media – 22%


Why this matters: Time spent with UGC is now greater than linear TV and streaming combined.  Networks spend $140B+ per year for professionally developed content, while platforms like YouTube and TikTok can outsource this to 2M+ creators.

Podcast: Influencers Don’t Need Hollywood Anymore

Quick math on YouTube creator model according to Andrew Rosen @ PARQOR:
1) 2M+ creators
2) Mr. Beast creates 25 videos per year
3) 0.1% of creators create at the same pace
4) 0.1% * 2M = 2K creators
5) 2K * 25 = 50K videos per year

Wow: 50%+ of the videos uploaded to YouTube every day are creator content.  1.9M videos are uploaded by creators every day!

Flashback #2: Who’s Going To Pay For All These Shows?

Big question #5: How will the creator economy evolve in the future?

Quick answer: We need to change our framing to understand the future (which is already here).  These are not creators/influencers.  They are media owners/moguls building 360-degree brands.  The Forbes list will no longer exist because these “creators” will appear on the main entertainment list alongside Taylor Swift, Bad Bunny, and James Cameron.

Quote from Troy Young – Adviser/Investor + Former Global President @ Hearst Magazines:
“These aren’t influencers. They are media owners and they are making bank.”

Flashback #3: Who Has the Most TikTok Influence?

Connecting the dots: A great example of a 360-degree brand in the creator era is the D’Amelio sisters.



Michael Beach

Michael Beach is the Chief Executive Officer of Cross Screen Media, a media analytics and software company that enables marketers to plan, activate, and measure CTV and linear TV at the local level. Michael is also the founder and editor of State of the Screens, a weekly newsletter focused on video advertising that is a must-read for thought leaders in the advertising industry. He has appeared in such publications as PBS Frontline, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Axios, CNBC and Bloomberg, and on NPR’s Planet Money podcast.