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The Surprising Truth About PewDiePie's Earnings Per Video

Why are there birds that can't fly? Why is a tomato a fruit, even though it tastes like it should be a vegetable? We often wrestle with mysteries like this in our universe, but if we dig deep enough, we can usually come up with a suitable answer. Will that be the case for this latest PewDiePie riddle, which has left us more confused than ever about YouTube's algorithms and what exactly defines "success" on Google's video platform?

We all know that PewDiePie is the most subscribed to individual on YouTube, with a current subscriber count of over 103 million. We know that PewDiePie uploads a new video almost every day, which should benefit him in terms of Google's algorithms. What might come as a shock, though, is that a new report finds PewDiePie actually makes less per video than a lot of other creators. In fact, according to that report, PewDiePie doesn't even crack the top 10.

PewDiePie, whose new clips seemingly send alerts to 103 million people, doesn't make as much per video as someone with a third of the subscribers. That is stunning, but how is it possible? We took a look at the top 10 list ourselves to try and make sense of things. We have some theories.

First, let's examine the channel in the top slot: Vlad and Nikita.

Vlad and Nikita are two little boys who play with toys. They're adorable, and their videos are typically very creative. Even if you're not a fan of watching kids goof off, there's a certain flavor to these videos that make them very shareable. That's what we suspect is happening here. Vlad and Nikita may not have a huge subscriber count, but their videos pull in tons more views, with each upload making approximately $312,000.

Going back about a month, Vlad and Nikita have videos that ended up reaching 72 million, 96 million, and 138 million views. A look back at PewDiePie's pre-hiatus videos shows his viewership has a ceiling. He usually comes in at around 5 or 6 million views per video. Even the video he published about taking a break from YouTube only reached 24 million views.

All those additional eyeballs are seemingly helping Vlad and Nikita pull in more money per video, even though those uploads are often three or four minutes long at most.

Interestingly enough, that isn't why makeup expert James Charles has a successful YouTube channel. Charles, who sits at the bottom of the list, reportedly makes almost $80,000 per video, yet has a far more sporadic upload schedule. More confusing still is the fact that Charles' video views are more in line with PewDiePie's. What on earth, then, could be causing Charles to pull in more money per video than PewDiePie?

It turns out video length could be playing a pivotal role.

A fair amount of PewDiePie's uploads come close to or just under the ten minute mark. That obviously makes them faster to consume, but it also means you'll see far fewer ads as a result. Some of James Charles' most popular videos are 41 minutes long, 27 minutes long, and 38 minutes long, and the vast majority are quite lengthy by YouTube standards. So even though Charles doesn't put up as many videos, one longer piece of content could be doing the work of several uploads.

This would explain how Charles — with 17 million subscribers — is managing to earn more per video despite not matching PewDiePie on output.

How accurate are the estimates around these earnings? Honestly, we can't say for sure. The report we referenced earlier used something called the YouTube Money Calculator to find its numbers, and we can't speak to that app being a reliable source by any stretch. If these figures are on the right track, though, they teach us a valuable lesson about finding success on YouTube: there is no "correct" way to do it.

You can have tons of subscribers and upload a new video every day, yet make less per video than a channel with fewer subscribers but shorter, more shareable content. You can shoot for the magic 10-minute mark with a lot of videos, but someone with fewer uploads and longer content could actually beat you in the earnings game.

If nothing else, this is a valuable look at how your own YouTube channel might benefit from a shift in strategy. It definitely makes you wonder what PewDiePie could do differently in order to bring up the amount he's making per video. Perhaps some longer-form content is in the YouTuber's future.

We'll let you know if we hear anything more about PewDiePie and what he's actually raking in.