An unidentified individual or group responsible for uploading videos that simply show a woman opening Disney toys made an estimated $4.9 million last year, more than any other channel for 2014, according to OpenSlate, a video analytics platform that analyzes ad-supported content on YouTube.
Almost nothing is known about the person or people behind the channel, DC Toys Collector (DC), which exclusively features a young woman in intricately painted nails removing the toys from their packaging and then assembling them. The account did not respond to a YouTube message.
Created in 2012, DC now features more than 1,600 videos and gets 380 million views a month. Its most viewed video, with more than 172 million streams, is called “Play Doh Sparkle Princess Ariel Elsa Anna Disney Frozen MagiClip Glitter Glider Princesas Magic Clip.” It was uploaded just this July.
The channel averages about one new video a day. The latest is the similarly titled, “Mermaid Ariel's Flower Showers Bathtub Color Changers Magical Water Princess Cinderella Anna Elsa.”
Uploaded Thursday, it already had nearly 200,000 views as of Friday morning.
Former Buzzfeed reporter Hillary Reinsberg was the first to report evidence of DC's possible identity, a 43-year-old Brazilian woman living in Florida who runs another toy unboxing channel, BluCollection, with her husband.
Later, New York Times contributor Mireille Silcoff tracked down another candidate for the videos’ protagonist, a 21-year-old Brazilian woman (the DC channel’s original title was DisneyCollectorBR) living in Westchester, New York, named Melissa Lima. But Lima has never totally confirmed her identity. She appears to have no connection to Disney itself; a Disney rep did not immediately return requests for comment.
"[She is] super mysterious,” OpenSlate's Kate Ritchie said. "She is just an anomaly — she just does so well on YouTube, [the channel] is likely earning a lot of money, but no one knows who she is, or where she is located. She just doesn't want to be known."
Disney Collector is part of a new, highly lucrative genre of online videos called “unboxing.” Unboxers with seemingly no active sponsorship will decide on a set of consumer items, from electronics to makeup, and didactically discuss a given product’s parts and features. But it’s toys that seem to have taken off — at least two other unboxers, DisneyCarToys and the aforementioned BluCollection ToyCollector currently sit on OpenSlate’s most-viewed list and could crack its top-earner list for 2015.
“A lot more of these toy channels have started showing up in our platform,” Ritchie said. “They’re doing a good job [with] engagement, showing consistent influence, which takes into consideration things like social media and sharing.
Disney Collector’s particular success seems to be owed to her having hit the toy spot earlier than her peers, cementing her status as a superstar among children. Maria Moser, a mother of three who blogs at Change-Diapers.com, said she stumbled upon the videos about a year ago when she and her youngest son, then two, were searching for Thomas the Tank Engine videos.
She said her son just “really likes seeing the different toys opened and played with.”
“It's so funny that he can sit and watch her opening and playing with toys as long as I let him," Moser said in an email.
Rachel Callahan, a blogger and mom of two, said her son was also enamored with the style of the videos, and the toys themselves.
She added that the videos’ success might also be associated with autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), a condition Internet users have invented to describe intoxicatingly pleasant sensations upon hearing or viewing certain stimuli.
“[I] marveled on the similarities” with videos that directly elicit ASMR and Disney Collector’s, Callahan said in an email. “There is a quality to her voice that is very soothing and addictive. She has a pleasant tone and accent, and her videos all adhere to the same formula—and kids love formulas.”
OpenSlate's earnings algorithm takes into account things like subscribers and social media reach, but average monthly views count most.
Here is the rest of OpenSlate’s top 10 (“SlateScore” measures social media reach and influence)
Ruler of all “unboxers,” evidently beloved by children everywhere.
Estimated Annual Earnings: $4,860,207.60
OpenSlate SlateScore: 527
Total Subscribers: 3,213,200
Monthly Views: 379,932,270
The best-selling recording artist of 2014.
Monthly Estimated Earnings: $342.565.71
Estimated Annual Earnings: $4,110,788.52
OpenSlate SlateScore: 650
Total Subscribers: 10,216,561
Monthly Views: 341,711,430
The Swedish John Madden of video games.
Monthly Estimated Earnings: $333,210.86
Estimated Annual Earnings: $3,998,530.32
OpenSlate SlateScore: 851
Total Subscribers: 32,990,682
Monthly Views: 323,333,040
Animated nursery rhymes.
Estimated Annual Earnings: $3,462,340.80
Monthly Estimated Earnings: $288,528.40
OpenSlate SlateScore: 516
Total Subscribers: 1,349,540
Monthly Views: 270,031,260
Distributor of a Russian-language animated programs like Masha and the Bear.
Estimated Annual Earnings: $2,712,715.32
Monthly Estimated Earnings: $226,059.61
OpenSlate SlateScore: 630
Total Subscribers: 2,573,419
Monthly Views: 225,495,870
All movie trailers, all the time.
Estimated Annual Earnings: $2,746,876.80
Monthly Estimated Earnings: $228,906.40
OpenSlate SlateScore: 779
Total Subscribers: 5,946,861
Monthly Views: 218,276,340
Massively successful Dutch EDM record label.
Estimated Annual Earnings: $2,516,189.52
Monthly Estimated Earnings: $209,682.46
OpenSlate SlateScore: 835
Total Subscribers: 7,762,108
Monthly Views: 200,102,550
Wrestling clips from today and yesteryear.
Estimated Annual Earnings: $2,350,169.28
Monthly Estimated Earnings: $195,847.44
OpenSlate SlateScore: 838
Total Subscribers: 4,673,996
Monthly Views: 189,586,350
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.