Massively popular and equally wealthy, the top YouTubers rake in millions each year from their legions of fans, thanks to sharing in YouTube advertising revenue, partnership deals, merchandise, and more.
It’s surprising that videos showing someone playing a computer game or giving their dog a makeover can be so successful and lucrative, but these YouTubers have perfected the art of making the kind of video content that people like to watch.
Top 10 Popular Youtubers in 2020
In this article, I walk through ten of the top YouTubers and reveal how they got started finding a path to reach billions of people with the niche they’ve carved out for themselves.
In this list, I focus on the top YouTubers by subscriber count who are individuals either based in the United States or popular in the U.S. market. I exclude musicians like Ed Sheeran and Katy Perry, channels like 5-Minute Crafts, and companies like WWE and instead stick to YouTube personalities.
TIP: You can check out lists of top YouTubers and influencers on other platforms using a great tool called Social Blade at https://socialblade.com.
PewDiePie – 93 million fans
PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg is a Swede who first became popular on YouTube with his computer-game playing videos.
With a whopping 91+ million subscribers — more than the entire population of the UK — PewDiePie makes gaming commentary, comedy, vlog, and meme videos in a unique, almost stream-of-conscious style. He’s odd, bizarre, funny, and charismatic, and people love his videos, as evidenced by his 18.9 billion video views.
Take a moment for that to sink in. That’s the equivalent of every single person in the world watching 2.5 of his videos.
Despite sometimes encountering controversy, PewDiePie has reigned supreme as the most subscribed YouTuber since 2013, with no signs that he’ll be supplanted. Estimates place his annual income around $12 million per year.
PewDiePie faces petition calling for his removal from YouTube. The petition, which has been signed by 72,000 at the time of writing, describes the YouTube star – real name Felix Kjellberg – as having ‘one of the largest platforms for white supremacist content.’
Dude Perfect – 40 million fans
Coming in second on the list of most popular YouTubers, the group Dude Perfect has 40 million subscribers (so, just over half of PewDiePie’s) and consists of five friends (Tyler, Coby, Cory, Cody, and Garrett) who make incredible sports and comedy videos. Their videos are totaling almost 8 billion views.
Dude Perfect focuses on pulling off seemingly impossible challenges like their extremely popular trick shot videos.
Their most viewed video, Ping Pong Trick Shots 3, has 170 million views and was sponsored by Oreo. The guys even hold some Guinness World Records.
Smosh – 24 million fans
Anthony Padilla first created Smosh as a website in 2002 before YouTube existed. His friend Ian Hecox joined him, and in 2005, they started posting videos on YouTube. In 2017, Padilla left Smosh to pursue other projects., However, the channel continues under Hecox, catering to an audience of 24 million subscribers.
Smosh videos are mostly comedy skits and sketches, along with music, gaming, and animated videos. “Beef ‘n Go” is their most popular video, posted in 2008, with a massive 103 million video views.
Markiplier – 23 million fans
Markiplier is the channel of Hawaiian born Mark Edward Fischbach, who makes gaming, comedy, and vlog videos, often yelling. When writing this article, Markiplier was live-streaming himself playing a game called Amnesia: The Dark Descent and was using YouTube’s Super Chats feature to raise money for cystic fibrosis.
The “SCARE ME for CHARITY” livestream had more than 25,000 people watching Markiplier play, with many fans donating hundreds of dollars in support, often in exchange for shout-outs to their friends and family.
Nigahiga – 21 million fans
Ryan Higa’s channel, Nigahiga has more than 21 million subscribers and started with lip-sync videos before moving into comedy. Many of his earlier lip-sync videos were removed as YouTube started to crack down on copyright infringements, so Higa started to post original compositions.
Higa’s YouTube channel was the most subscribed channel on YouTube for 677 consecutive days from 2009–2011, the second longest span of time behind PewDiePie.
“Nice Guys,” published in 2011, is the channel’s most popular video with more than 77 million views. It’s an original music composition about how nice guys finish last.
Ninja – 21 million fans
Tyler Blevins runs the Youtube channel Ninja, which features him playing games such as Fortnite, the battle royale-style multiplayer game. (which also happens to be my favorite game!)
Ninja streams on the gaming platform Twitch (where Blevins has 11 million followers) and has 18 million subscribers on YouTube. Fans flock to the videos to learn how to play and enjoy the commentary. His gameplay videos can top 36 million views.
Shane – 21 million fans
Shane Dawson started his YouTube career uploading sketch comedy videos featuring original characters, amassing hundreds of millions of views. However, since 2015, Dawson has focused more on conspiracy theory and documentary style videos and has grown to more than 18 million subscribers.
Dawson’s popular documentary series about YouTuber Jeffree Star features five videos that total close to 100 million views. The follow-up documentary series features YouTuber Jake Paul.
Jenna Marbles – 19 million fans
An early YouTuber, Jenna Marbles (Jenna Nicole Mourey) hit big with her 2010 video “How To Trick People Into Thinking You’re Good Looking,” which now has more than 67 million views. She is the first female in our top 10 popular youtubers list.
Jenna’s channel has more than 18 million subscribers, and her vlog and comedy videos have netted over 2.8 billion views. A second channel, JennaMarblesVlog, has 1.7 million subscribers. Jenna features Mr. Marbles, her chihuahua, and Kermit, an Italian greyhound, prominently in her videos.
Logan Paul Vlogs – 18 million fans
Logan Paul started his career as a Vine star before moving to YouTube. TheOfficialLoganPaul is the channel where Paul posts short films and comedy sketches, with an audience of 5 million subscribers. However, his channel Logan Paul Vlogs has a massive 18 million subscribers.
Although Paul has weathered several controversies that have led to him taking a hiatus and having certain projects cancelled, he’s worked through them to come out the other side.
Interestingly, In February 2018, Paul participated in a highly publicized amateur boxing match against another YouTube personality, KSI.
Jake Paul – 18 million fans
Jake is the brother of Logan Paul (see preceding section), making their YouTube success a real family affair. The Jake Paul Productions channel has 18 million subscribers. Like his brother, Jake first rose to fame through the now defunct platform Vine, but also on a Disney Channel TV show.
Paul’s videos have more than 5 billion views, and mostly comprise music videos and vlogs. Jake participated in a boxing match with Logan against KSI and KSI’s brother. It was a brother versus-brother event!