Child YouTubers with gobstopping subscriber counts, burgeoning business empires, and multimillion-dollar incomes certainly isn’t a new phenomenon — as one of the space’s progenitors, eight-year-old digital posterchild Ryan Kaji, has impressively showcased.
And while Kaji — of Ryan’s World fame — may be familiar to many in the space, there’s new kid on the block: six-year-old Nastya Radzinskaya, who’s YouTube following makes Kaji’s look like … well, child’s play. Case in point: On her flagship channel, Like Nastya, Radzinskaya just crossed 50 million subscribers on Sunday — making her the first children’s channel in YouTube history to accomplish this feat. Radzinskaya, who was born in Krasnodar, Russia but moved to Boca Raton, Fl. last year with her mom and dad — has also managed to break this record in rapid order, after the family launched their YouTube venture in 2016.
What’s even more impressive? Like Nastya represents just a fraction of Radzinskaya’s overall YouTube empire. All told, the youngster is at the helm of 10 channels — most of which feature localized versions of approximately the same videos in German, Portuguese, Vietnamese, and more — that have amassed a collective 120 million subscribers and 50 billion lifetime views. And in the single month of February 2019, her 10 channels collectively clocked more than 3.8 billion views.
Radzinskaya’s viewers hail from vast corners of the globe, with her biggest markets being the U.S., Brazil, Russisa, and India — in that order. To this end, Radzinskaya is currently studying English, Mandarin, and Spanish in her bid to become a truly international YouTube star.
Radzinskaya is also the only creator on earth to have four Diamond Play Buttons (which YouTube awards to channels with more than 10 million subscribers), and Forbes estimates that the preschooler raked in $18 million last year in pretax income from ads, sponsored content, and other endeavors.
For comparison’s sake, Kaji’s parents established his channel in 2015, and it has amassed 24.3 million subscribers — less than half of Radzinskaya’s tally on her primary account. Despite his relatively smaller (but still staggering) following, he’s managed to parlay his YouTube fame into a full-fledged multimedia empire, with a Nickelodeon television series and a bustling product empire of 1,000 products in 75,000 stores that reportedly raked in $150 million in 2019. Ryan’s YouTube channel has recently been nabbing upwards of 800 million monthly views, with Radzinskaya trouncing him on that front as well, to the tune of upwards of 2 billion monthly views on the Like Nastya channel alone.
A remarkable charisma
At the outset, Yuri and Anna Radzinskaya — Nastya’s parents and the co-pilots at the helm of her YouTube ascension — didn’t have aspirations of online stardom. In Russia, Yuri worked in construction, while Anna had an event-planning agency, and also worked in the wedding industry. They say they initially launched the channel in the wake of Nastya’s (since-proven-to-be-incorrect) cerebral palsy diagnosis when she was born, in order to document their young daughter’s development and progress.
“Thank G-d it was not a correct diagnosis, but that was where the idea came from to start — to help her with therapy as well as to show her progress,” Anna told Tubefilter in an exclusive interview through an interpreter. “It was a questionable diagnosis, which was not confirmed, but we took all the precautionary measures — therapy, massages — and treated it as if it was a correct for almost two years.”
Even still, while filming the videos, Yuri remarked that Nastya had a remarkable charisma on camera, as well as a knack for acting. And while they say that these are the attributes that have turned her into a phenomenon, there wasn’t a single viral video that catapulted her into renown.
“For older creators, there can be a viral moment,” says Eyal Baumel, the CEO of multi-channel network Yoola — with whom the Radzinskayas signed in 2017. “But for kids’ content, usually you don’t have just one.” That’s not to say, however, that there haven’t been insane spikes in Radzinskaya’s explosive ascent, including one clip in 2019 — the oddly-titled Nastya and papa sleeping at farm sheep Family fun trip, and featuring a scene in which they sing “Baby Shark” — that has amassed 796 million views, and which Baumel says “took Nastya’s career to the next level.”
“The growth in 2019 was insane,” Baumel adds, with several videos nabbing upwards of 200 million views. All told, Radzinskaya has 140 videos with over 100 million views. Over the past five months, Radzinskaya’s portfolio of channels has averaged 100 million daily views and 150,000 daily subscriber gains.
Interestingly, while Like Nastya is the first children’s channel to surpass 50 million subscribers, she is being followed closely on her heels by another children’s channel with roots in Eastern Europe. Kids Diana Show, with 48.6 million subscribers, is headlined by a five-year-old Ukrainian girl named Diana — who is every bit as fair-haired and adorable as Nastya. The two have even collaborated on a number of videos together.
“Every video is a story”
The Nastya machine composes, at its core, the trio of Yuri, Anna, and their daughter. Anna does not appear on camera, and instead serves as the team’s de facto videographer. Yuri — who was in his school chorus and has also taken theater classes — co-stars alongside Nastya in the vast majority of videos. Anna and Yuri say they work upwards of 60 hours per week — conceiving new video ideas and filming roughly three or four videos, which are then churned out into localized versions across Nastya’s portfolio.
The couple tells Tubefilter that they count 20 employees who are dedicated to the YouTube operation, including editing and translating. While most of the same videos are simply dubbed into different languages, there is also a fair amount of algorithmic strategy involved, Baumel says, with content being published at optimal times in different parts of the world, as well as videos that are inspired by different regional holidays and events.
“Most of the video ideas come from every day life,” Yuri tells Tubefilter. “For example, we can be driving in the car with our daughter, and we see somebody throwing garbage out the window, and this could inspire an idea where we can make a video to teach children morals, and how that’s not the right way to behave.” While they strive to incorporate a moral or educational lesson in their content, some of the videos are borne of Nastya’s passions — namely her love of animals — and solely serve to entertain.
Baumel, for his part, says that Nastya’s videos take a slightly different tact than other players in the space, like Kaji. “For Ryan, every day is Christmas, and the videos are full of toys and surprises,” he explains. “But for Nastya, every video is a story, and this is something we give a lot of credit to her parents for.” Radzinskayas’s videos also tend to be shorter. This, combined with the emphasis on a narrative, is crucial to clocking high completion rates — a stat that’s key to the YouTube’s ‘suggested’ algorithm, Baumel notes, which can account for 70% to 80% of views.
Having already conquered the YouTube realm, Nastya — with help from Yoola — is next seeking to try her hand at building an off-platform empire, much like Kaji has done. She has already launched a mobile game, but books, toys, and other licensing ventures are also coming down the pike. The family also signed with talent agency WME several weeks ago, with whom it will work on content opportunities for TV, film, and digital distribution. Nastya is also expanding onto new platforms, having just launched a TikTok account (see below) with her inaugural videos garnering millions of views apiece.
While the family is remaining mum on precisely what future product launches will entail, they say they are in discussions with major toy manufacturers about a master license to create products that are true to Nastya’s content ethos, capitalizing on the relationship between father and daughter.
Yoola, for its part, is a seven-year-old, internationally-focused MCN that reps 4,00 channels clocking 12 billion monthly views. Baumel says it’s the largest MCN in Europe, with a massive presence in Russia and China. The company has also honed a niche in content globalization. For instance, when Yoola began working with the Radzinskayas two-and-a-half years ago, they only had one channel. Baumel says the company pioneered its localization strategy with a Ukrainian life hacks channel called Slivki Show, who counts 16 million subscribers on his flagship hub. The channel doubled revenues, Baumel says, after launching dedicated hubs in English, German, and Chinese.
In addition to other traditional MCN responsibilities, Yoola provides 360-degree talent management services to the Radzinskayas, and is working with them on product development through its Yoola Ventures division.
Given their lofty aspirations, the family isn’t ruling out a move to entertainment epicenter Los Angeles in the future, but say they chose Florida — for the time being — to ease into the states via a comfortable-sized city. Given that Nastya’s biggest audience hails from America, and the bevy of opportunities that exist here, they say they plan to move here permanently, and are finalizing their immigration and work visa processes.
“We don’t feel or see it like a job per se,” Yuri says. “Nastya has become a friend to kids all around the world. And we just want to thank all of our subscribers for supporting us and giving us a chance to make their lives better.”