How Tyler 'Ninja' Blevins really makes his money

Streaming isn't all about the money, but successful streamers like Tyler "Ninja" Blevins have proven that it can be a career that more than pays the bills. In times past it would have been nearly unthinkable that playing video games could lead to seven-figure salaries. However, let's be real: streaming is about more than just playing games. What Twitch streamers are selling is personality, entertainment, and for some, companionship. It doesn't appear to be a terrible amount of work on the surface, but considering the time and effort streamers sink into creating a fun experience for viewers, these massive monthly payouts from subscribers and donors might be an accurate compensation.

Ninja plays for an average of almost 12 hours a day. That's a demanding, hard schedule for any job, even if he is "just playing games" all day. But Ninja is also the Twitch streamer, so by the hour, because of the massive audience he commands, he is easily outearning the average streamer. In fact, he's outearning most high-end jobs.

Ninja makes a lot of money, and that income amasses from numerous sources, making him one of the highest-paid names in the Twitch game.

Just how much can you make by streaming?

If Twitch streaming is so lucrative, why doesn't everyone with a decent internet connection sit themselves in front of a webcam and start up a stream? Isn't every second on the air money in the bank? Not so. It's easy to get dazzled by the big names of Twitch. Success stories of streamers quitting their day jobs because they make more money playing their favorite games with their friends are inspiring, but few and far between.

Unless they're as big as Ninja, it's difficult to determine exactly how much a streamer is making. Subscriptions are probably the most reliable form of income for a streamer, and at $5 per sub, Twitch takes half, leaving a whopping $2.50 per month from a subscriber. To hope to cover rent, the average streamer would want to have around 1,000 subscribers, which isn't always the case.

Donations might seem to make up for this, but they're sporadic and unreliable. Small streamers are at the mercy of fickle attention spans. Sure, sometimes big donations appear out of nowhere, but as some small channels have attested to, they're much more likely to get some itty bitty tips here and there, and only after having established a consistent amount of viewers.

Now if a streamer gets as big as the likes of Ninja or Pokimane, then they can expect more money from subscribers, consistent donations, and the path paved to more revenue streams, like merch and sponsorships, that the average streamer can only dream of.

How much is Ninja worth?

Ninja is the Twitch streamer, and the Twitch success story. Once the phenomenon that is Fortnite hit, he rode that wave to its utmost height and really, he's yet to come down. Polygon reported that within 30 days, Ninja had gained 2.3 million subscribers on his YouTube channel with a staggering near-billion views, all because of his mad skillz when it comes to playing Epic Game's hit title.

That many digits made people start to consider how those numbers might be translated into dollars and cents. Ninja's Twitch channel is more telling as to what kind of money he has earned by being the go-to Fortnite streamer. He has around 12 million followers, but those come for free. It's subscribers that mean money. Ninja has said that he has well over 100,000 subscribers, so just on that we can confirm that yes, Ninja is a millionaire because of Twitch. He's a millionaire several times over, and that's not adding in the numerous other revenue streams at his fingertips.

Twitch subscribers make Ninja around $700,000 per month

Not all Twitch subscriptions are equal. There are tiers that allow viewers to decide how much money they want to pay streamers for enjoying their content per month. Paying for a subscription unlocks emotes and ad-free viewing along with the satisfactory knowledge that you're supporting your favorite streamer. There are $4.99, $9.99, and the generous $24.99 subscriptions, but opting in to Twitch Prime gives viewers a free sub each month.

Those numbers in mind, Ninja has said — sheepishly admitted, saying he doesn't like talking about money — that he makes an average of $3.50 per subscriber compared to the standard $2.50. In March of 2018 he said that he had achieved the incredible number of 140,000 Twitch subscribers. Even if he was just making a dollar off of each of those subs, he would easily be well off, but Ninja is making $3.50 per month from an even larger number: later that same month he hit 200,000 subscribers.

Simple math reveals that Ninja's monthly income from subscribers on Twitch is $700,000, which is what many people dream of making in a year. Making somewhere in the ballpark of eight million dollars a year isn't too shabby for a 27-year-old.

Ninja's YouTube is doing just as well

We've focused in on Ninja's wild Twitch success, but he is just as much of a phenom on YouTube as he is on Twitch. On his YouTube channel, he hosts the best moments from his stream condensed down into compilation videos with explosively colored thumbnails that rake in millions of views. He has 19 million subscribers, rivaling mid-tier music artists. Contrary to Twitch, it's the views here that really count, rather than subscribers.

YouTubers make their money through ad revenue, namely the revenue per thousand views or RPM. Calculating how much a YouTuber makes via this method isn't an exact science; there are many factors that only the YouTuber or the advertiser knows, and different advertisers will pay different amounts, but the typical numbers are conservatively cited that YouTubers earn between one and three dollars per 1,000 views, leaving out skipped ads, mobile views, and blocked ads.

Social Blade shows that Ninja is pulling an average of around 90 million views per month on his YouTube channel. Doing the math there (you're welcome) puts monthly revenue at roughly $180,000, give or take some adblock and cheap advertisers. Even then, that kind of income on top of his already sky-high salary from Twitch subs is nothing to sneeze at.

Thousands in donations, hundreds in cheers

Ninja gets hundreds, if not thousands, of donations in a single day and some of those donations boggle the mind. There are many a clickbait-y thumbnail featuring Ninja's incredulous face and a title like INSANE *EMOTIONAL* 100K+ donation. As outrageous as the videos seem, these numbers are accurate and surprisingly common. It seems like every few months a subscriber with a ridiculous amount of disposable income throws a couple thousand dollars Ninja's way on a whim.

What's great is that oftentimes these huge donations happen when Ninja is streaming for charity, but that's not always the case; sometimes those hundreds of dollars are going straight to his own pocket. Additionally, there is something to be said for all the little donations and cheers: they add up. The record of his donations is private, but what is visible to the average viewer is weekly top cheerers, who throw Twitch Bits. A Bit costs a little over a cent. Ninja's top cheerers are tossing around approximately $600 worth of Bits. The week's top ten cheerers might average out around $1,400 worth of Bits.

Standard donations are more frequent, and the top ten donations there can reach nearly $6,000. So far, just considering the big spenders, a conservative estimate places Ninja's earning from donations at $10,000 per month. Guesstimating in the other couple hundred donations that don't take up the top spots? Ninja might be making up to $40,000 in donations per month.

Ads aren't everything, but they sure are something

Twitch is clearly where Ninja is raking in the big bucks, but forget subscribers and donations: he has ads running too. For all those followers who haven't subscribed, ads are still presumably running. Controversially, even users with Twitch Prime aren't free from ads after Amazon dropped ad-free viewing from it's Twitch Prime package. This move might cost streamers money, considering that viewers might drop their Prime subscriptions because of the update.

Even so, Ninja isn't hurting for viewers, averaging at 800,000 viewers per day while he's glued to his game. That's 25 million views per month. Ninja streams an average of six ads per hour to his fans, even if those 12 million followers aren't tuning in too often. Twitch Partners can't talk about specifics when it comes to ad revenue, so we can only make educated guesses when it comes to how much cash those views translate to. Partners earn a share of the ads that run on their streams, but the cost per mille or CPM that they earn fluctuates with the season.

Ninja's ads are typically tech or game related from companies like T Mobile, which may pay more than an average advertiser would at $1-$2 per thousand views. Regardless, Ninja has millions of viewers a month. Even at $2, Ninja could be making thousands of dollars in ad revenue every day. This totals out to a number that would rival his earnings from subscriptions.

Merch here! Get your Ninja merch here!

Despite his overwhelming popularity, Ninja was relatively late to the merch game. Streamers can promote all kinds of goodies for their fans to buy in order to support them, whether that's phone cases, T-shirts, or posters. It wasn't until late 2018 that teamninja.com, Ninja's official store, launched just in time for early holiday shopping. Rather than going the route of third party platforms like teespring, Ninja's merch is hosted on his very own site themed around his yellow and blue ninja aesthetic, along with a whole collection dedicated to his "Pon Pon" dance.

Ninja's merch is mostly focused around apparel: hoodies, T-shirts, and long-sleeved shirts. They feature his logo — the ninja with a yellow headband — and shuriken on the sleeves. These well-designed looks don't come cheap either. All of the hoodies are priced at $55 and the T-shirts at $28, making it pretty pricey for fans to rep their favorite streamer. Ninja's audience skews younger, so parents are sure to find Ninja shirts and hoodies on Christmas wish lists. We can't know how much Ninja will make from his merch store, but it's easy to guess that the store will do well with those thousands of subscribers and millions of followers.

Everyone wants a piece of Ninja, but it comes at a (big) price

When it comes to sponsorships, it only takes a glance at Ninja's Twitch channel to know that he's got them in spades. Ninja won't reveal exact numbers, but after a $100 donor asked for a YouTube channel shoutout on stream, we have a vague idea of just how much those sponsorships pay Ninja.

Ninja essentially told the donor that asking for a shoutout for a mere $100 was preposterous: with Ninja's views and the massive platform he has, any kind of promotion from him costs far more than that. "If I were to promote anything whatsoever, it would be, like, a minimum of ten grand. Like minimum. For, like, an hour of doing a game sometimes, it's like 20 or 30 grand. You're asking for a shoutout, a complete plug to your YouTube channel — I don't know who you are, I don't know if your content is good, I don't know anything about you, man," he said.

Ninja's popularity has gained attention to brands typically not associated with gaming and esports. He made waves after announcing his endorsement with UberEats. He is also partnered with Red Bull and has been consistently ranked as a top athlete in terms of his reach and social media influence, something that sponsors, brands, and potential advertisers take very seriously when considering where to spend a couple grand — not just $100 — for a promotion.

What do you do with all that cash?

How would one even spend half a million dollars a month? Ninja is able to cover rent, groceries, and basic daily expenses easy — more than easy. He could buy out the Fortnite item shop every day and not make a dent in his budget. But he's not doing that. When it comes to the gigantic amount of money Ninja is earning, he isn't wasting it. He's being smart, and he's living well within his means.

In an interview with TMZ, Ninja said that "nothing lasts forever" which is why he and his wife are being careful with their money moving forward. In fact, he said that there hadn't been anything that he had splurged on, keeping this ideal in mind. Not all of Ninja's considerable cash goes into savings, however. Ninja has said that his high earnings go toward helping his family and sponsoring shelter animals, paying for surgeries and other expenses so that they can find forever homes.

Ninja gives, and he wants to give more. Speaking to Forbes, Ninja said that he feels obligated to use his influence for good. He plans on future fundraisers and is proud of the work that he has done so far, raising money for suicide awareness and handing out huge checks to survivors of breast cancer.

Keep your friends close and your managers closer

Ninja's success can be attributed to many things: his talent, his personality, and all the fun times viewers are treated to on stream definitely lend themselves to his meteoric achievements. But it also helps, immensely, to have support at home, especially considering his brutal stream schedule and the sheer amount of email he must receive from advertisers, sponsors, and potential partners every day.  

This is where the talents of his wife, Jessica Blevins, come in. Jessica takes on the dual roles of wife and manager to the biggest streamer on Twitch: no small feat. She comes well qualified, being an occasional streamer herself under the name JGhosty and boasting a degree in Interpersonal Communications and Public Relations. It was Jessica who first started to get Ninja's name out and about: she pitched him to companies like HyperX and Alienware in search of sponsorships.

Now, the sponsors contact her. It's a huge job, and Ninja himself didn't have the time to do it. Jessica works to take care of all the emails, calls, and negotiations all while Ninja streams in the next room. Those work days translate to a ridiculous amount of money coming in, minute by minute, but Jessica and Ninja are managing every cent smartly.

Fortnite is forking over cash to Ninja directly

Epic Games has decided to give back to the community that made its game so huge through the "Support-A-Creator" program. The limited time event allows for Fortnite players to directly donate to Fortnite content creators every time they spend V-Bucks in the item shop. The game added a tab in the shop wherein players can enter the Epic tag of their favorite streamer, pro player, or YouTuber and a little bit of their purchase will be tipped to that creator. The scheme makes it so that content creators recieve $5 of every $100 spent.

At the start of the three-month window that the Support-A-Creator would run for, Ninja was sure to demonstrate exactly how to share the V-Bucks love. Ninja himself donated to DrLupo, but reminded viewers on Twitch exactly how to spell his tag. Initially, Ninja wasn't included in Epic's list of pre-approved creators, but was eventually added.

However, it may have been better that he never joined in after the backlash he received. People felt it was wrong of him, who had become wealthy from Fortnite, to take away attention from others who could possibly make a fraction of his fortune via Support-A-Creator. In turn, Ninja addressed those who called him greedy on Twitter by saying that he was just wanting to spread awareness of the event, and encouraged people to support any creator they chose, not just himself.