A 26-year-old gamer from England took home a huge payday in 2017. In Forbes’ list of the top-earning YouTube stars of 2017, Dan Middleton — known to his subscribers as DanTDM — claimed the top spot by pulling in a reported $16.5 million over a 12-month period.
Forbes compiled its list by pulling data from sources like YouTube, SocialBlade, and Captiv8. It also conducted “interviews with agents, managers, publicists, producers and lawyers” in order to hone its estimates of YouTuber earnings. Its ultimate list is based off a year-long period that ended on June 1, 2017. Taxes and management fees are not accounted for in the ranking.
Middleton’s reported gross of $16.5 million is the highest single-creator total Forbes has measured since it started keeping track of YouTuber earnings in 2015. In total, the top ten videomakers on the 2017 list combined to collect $127 million, which is a dramatic increase over the $70.5 million pulled in by last year’s top ten.
Middleton’s YouTube channel, The Diamond Minecart, has more than 16 million subscribers and has received over 11.5 billion views since its 2012 launch. Much of Middleton’s appeal is based on his family-friendly approach to the popular video game Minecraft. Within the bounds of that blocky world, he has created fan-favorite characters, including the clumsy scientist Dr. Trayaurus.
Beyond his digital success, Middleton has also put together a theatrical live show, playing to sold-out crowds across multiple continents. A scripted series based on those events, titled DanTDM Creates A Big Scene, premiered earlier this year for YouTube Red subscribers.
The rest of the top ten includes gamers Evan “Vanoss” Fong, Mark “Markiplier” Fischbach, and Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg; vlogger Lilly “Superwoman” Singh; basketball trickshot masters Dude Perfect; toy unboxer Ryan ToysReview; long-runner comedy channel Smosh; and brothers Jake and Logan Paul.
Kjellberg, whose 2017 was filled with controversies and drama, dropped to sixth on Forbes’ list after topping it in each of the two previous years. Despite that drop, which was undoubtedly influenced by his split with partner network Maker Studios and the cancellation of his YouTube Red series, the Swedish lightning rod still earned a reported $12 million over the period measured by Forbes. Clearly, 58 million subscribers can go a long way, even in a “down year.”