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How YouTube stars Dude Perfect built a sprawling business that makes an estimated $20 million in yearly income

dude perfect dude perfect
Dude Perfect.
Dude Perfect/Whistle

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  • Since launching a YouTube channel in 2009, the five friends behind Dude Perfect have become wildly popular online, with over 48 million YouTube subscribers.
  • The success of their YouTube channel has helped them land a TV contract with Nickelodeon, and recently, the group has been working on more long-form video projects.
  • Dude Perfect's YouTube business generated $20 million in a single year, according to Forbes' most recent report on the top-earning YouTubers.
  • Business Insider spoke to Dude Perfect member Coby Cotton and Jeff Toney, Dude Perfect's chief business officer, about switching up their style of content throughout the years and how this strategy has helped them stay relevant. 
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In 2009, five former college roommates decided they would start a YouTube channel and film themselves doing various trick shots and stunts in their backyard.

Now nearly 11 years later, these viral dunks and challenges have brought these friends – known collectively as Dude Perfect – into viral internet stardom.  

Dude Perfect is composed of five members, Coby and Cory Cotton, Garret Hilbert, Cody Jones, and Tyler Toney, who are the faces behind viral videos like "Bowling Trick Shots" (94.5 million views) and "Bubble Wrap Battle," (90.7 million views). Their YouTube channel has amassed 49 million subscribers and their brand has grown into a larger sports entertainment group.

Dude Perfect's YouTube business generated $20 million in a single year, according to Forbes, which puts them in the No. 2 spot on its most recent report on the top-earning YouTubers – right behind 8-year-old YouTube star Ryan Kaji.  

Their popular YouTube videos have helped them land a TV contract for a show that airs on Nickelodeon, develop a merchandise line, tour around the United States, and develop longer-form projects. Recently, the group has been working on a long-form video project with the sports and entertainment company Whistle, and entertainment company E1 Entertainment, titled, "Dude Perfect Trick Shots: Untold Stories," which takes followers behind 10 of their favorite trick shots.

"One of the biggest requests that we have from our fans is that they always want to know what goes into making the trick shots," said Jeff Toney, Dude Perfect's chief business officer. "Obviously over ten years we've made some pretty crazy ones, and you know you got to raise the bar every time you do one or do something a little more unexpected."

Business Insider spoke to Dude Perfect member Coby Cotton, and Toney, about switching up their style of content throughout the years and how this strategy has helped them stay relevant. 

 

Switching up the style of content and showing off their personalities

The Dude Perfect YouTube channel has evolved over the years from trick shot videos – which is what helped them get their start – to incorporating more of their other passions, like challenge videos, sports, and comedy.

Dude Perfect has collaborated with a number of athletes and celebrities, like actor Paul Rudd, the NFL team the Seattle Seahawks, and tennis star Serena Williams. 

Recently, the group has been focused on producing more projects where they are able to show off their personalities, and give fans access to behind-the-scenes shots. 

Dude Perfect has expanded their YouTube content by launching a variety show in 2018 called "Overtime" and a series, titled "Bucket List," where the members challenge themselves to do things they have always dream of. 

Off-platform projects, branded merchandise, and touring have all proven to be lucrative sources of income for many digital creators — including Dude Perfect — and a way for influencers to diversify their revenue streams outside of sponsorships and direct revenue earned off YouTube

Cross-platform reach can also help a creator sustain a long-lasting career and build out their revenue streams across major platforms like YouTube, Instagram, podcasting, and traditional media. 

 

'TikTok is one of our fastest growing platforms right now'

It's easy to fall into a pattern of creating the exact same content for one platform when you are a digital creator.

"We have seen a lot of changes throughout that 10 years on YouTube," Coby said. "The biggest advice that I would give to somebody who's considering jumping in, or maybe a young creator right now, is just to enjoy what you are doing and then to also mix it up."

To stay relevant online, Dude Perfect continued to mix up both the subject matter of their videos, introducing new series, and by adding additional content to new social-media platforms, like TikTok. 

"We want to entertain people on whatever platforms they choose to consume that entertainment and TikTok is one of our fastest growing platforms right now," Toney said about the Dude Perfect TikTok page, which has over 3 million followers. "But we are also going to be focusing on a lot more long-form content."

From quick 30-second videos on TikTok, to professionally produced long-form content, introducing these new platforms has allowed the group to transition from YouTube to meet and to entertain a much broader demographic around the world, Toney said.

"We are just always trying to mix it up and keep it fresh, because not only is that fun for us, but we think it's fun for the people who are watching," Coby said.

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