Anastasia Radzinskaya is an unlikely media star. Born in southern Russia with cerebral palsy, her doctors feared she would never be able to speak.
To document her development through treatments, her parents posted videos of her on YouTube so friends and relatives could see the progress.
Her videos are typical kid stuff: playdates with dad, jumping around on an inflatable castle and playing with her cat, each video accompanied by catchy jingles and voice-over giggles. She soon gained followers around the world.
Her biggest hit was a 2018 trip to the petting zoo with her father Yuri that featured the two dancing to child favorite “Baby Shark,” milking a pretend cow and eating ice cream. That video has garnered 767 million views, the top draw for a growing media business that has funneled $18 million to the Radzinskayas between June 1, 2018, and June 1, 2019.
Anastasia, who goes by “Nastya,” now has 107 million subscribers across her seven channels who have watched her videos 42 billion times. She is No. 3 on the Forbes Top-Earning YouTube Stars ranking for 2019, which tallies pretax income collected from advertisements, sponsored content, merchandise sales, tours and more.
That’s a pretty good showing for a 5-year-old, but not quite as good as 8-year-old Ryan Kaji, this year’s top YouTube earner with $26 million. The elder influencer rose to fame in the “unboxing” genre, opening presents in front of the camera and comments on each. Ryan ToysReview debuted in 2015 and now has grown into a children’s channel called Ryan’s World with 23 million subscribers.
“YouTube is the most popular babysitter in the world,” says Eyal Baumel, CEO of management company Yoola, which specializes in digital stars, including Nastya.
Videos with children in them average almost three times as many views as other types of videos, according to a Pew Research Center study done this year. Another Pew study revealed that 81% of parents with children 11 or younger let their kids watch YouTube.
Compiled by Devotha John