96.5 percent of all of those trying to become YouTubers won't make enough money off of advertising to crack the U.S. poverty line, according to research by Mathias Bärtl, a professor at Offenburg University of Applied Sciences in Offenburg.
Breaking into the top 3 percent of most-viewed channels could bring in advertising revenue of about $16,800 a year, Bärtl found in an analysis for Bloomberg News. That's a bit more than the U.S. federal poverty line of $12,140 for a single person. (The guideline for a two-person household is $16,460.) The top 3 percent of video creators of all time in Bärtl's sample attracted more than 1.4 million views per month.
The top 1 percent of Youtube creators got 2.2 million to 42.1 million views per month in 2016, Bärtl's research shows. Those top-tier performers often earn side money through sponsorships or other deals, so calculating their earnings is more complicated.
YouTube's ad rates are opaque and have changed over time, but Bärtl used an income of $1 per 1,000 views for an average YouTuber to calculate his earnings estimates. Youtube ad rates vary from 35 cents per 1,000 views to $5 per thousand views.
For a Youtube channel to be eligible for ad revenue, the channel viewers must have watched 4,000 hours of their videos in the last year, and YouTubers need 1,000 subscribers or more to be eligible to make money from advertising.