Digital Stars

Online personalities are challenging traditional Hollywood movie, television, and radio stars for public recognition. With the proliferation of media outlets, actors and recording artists are already facing a larger field among themselves as they battle it out for the throne of fame.  Nowadays, however, they are also being challenged for audience attention by an army of reality television wannabes and, more noteworthy, Internet bloggers, podcasters, Youtube video-makers, and social media superstars.

According to Variety magazine's "Digital Star Ranking," some of these New Media stars are already outshining the more traditional ones. When it comes to "trust," the public values the opinions of KSI, VanossGaming, and Markiplier more than Bruno Mars or Taylor Swift. The Fine Bros., Jenna Marbles, and SkyDoesMinecraft rank higher in trustworthiness than do such esteemed celebrities as Morgan Freeman, Jim Carrey, or Will Smith.

Even when it comes to income, these digital stars are making a mark, causing the entertainment business to take notice. The following are the top online stars in terms of lucrative advertisement revenue:

PewDiePie (Felix Kjellberg, United Kingdom)

Nigahiga (Ryan Higa, Los Angeles and Hawaii)

Joey Graceffa from Style Haul (Los Angeles)

My Life as Eva from Fullscreen (Eva Gutowski, California)

MKBHD from Vox Media (Marques Brownlee, New York)

Vsauce (Michael Stevens, London)

The Young Turks from TYT Network (Cenk Uyger, California)

Shaytards from Maker Studios (Shay Carl, Idaho)

Rosanna Pansino from Kin Community (Los Angeles)

Dude Perfect (Coby and Cory Cotton, Garret Hilbert, Cody Jones, and Tyler Toney, Texas)

Lindsey Stirling from Maker Studios (Los Angeles)

Mighty Car Mods (Blair "Moog" Joscelyne and Marty Mulholland, Sydney)

Some of these digital stars are starting to branch out to the "mainstream" media, with acting gigs on TV shows (like iJustine's Justine Ezarik), bestselling books (such as I Hate MySelfie by YouTube's Shane Dawson), and even films (such as the recent Smosh: The Movie, starring the Smosh Brothers, Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla).

Some in the younger generation, and even older folks, might be watching YouTube channels more than the broadcast TV networks.  YouTube hits include:

Bad Night

Camp Takota

The Chosen

Janoskians: Untold and Untrue

Lazer Team

Man Up

Natural Born Pranksters

The Outfield

Pentatonix: On My Way Home

Shovel Buddies

Summer Forever

A Trip to Unicorn Island

Who's Driving Doug


Are these digital stars just experiencing their fifteen minutes of fame, or are they a harbinger of the next phase of national and international celebrities?