In February of this year, there was a big spike of search volume for 1 in 4 blank have appeared on TV. Turns out that was a clue on a crossword, and the answer the crossword was “Americans.” Try as I might, though, I could not find the source of this statistic anywhere. I’ve dug through years and years of BLS data, studies on the acting industry, discussions of how many more people were needed to appear on TV when the number of available channels expanded… Yeah, it got to the point that even I was sick of the research.
And I simply couldn’t find a source for this statistic. I won’t say it’s inaccurate, I’ll just say the source doesn’t make itself obvious, and no second similar sources could be found.
But that doesn’t help answer our question. In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that just over 43,000 people reported their occupation as “actor”.That’s about .01 percent of the population of the US in 2017.
But those paid for acting is not necessarily a good corollary for those that appear on TV or the digital equivalent. Tubics estimates that there were 23 million YouTube channels as of 2018, though that number doesn’t account for how active those channels might be.
But even if you do show up on TV or have a YouTube channel, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be making a living. Research done by a professor of applied science in Germany based on a 2016 sample of data estimates that even the top 3 percent of YouTube stars, with millions of subscribers, are likely lucky to bring home around $17,000 per year in shared ad revenue, meaning that in order to make a living they have to rely on partnerships, paid advertisement episodes, and alternative revenue sources.
So appearing on TV or YouTube likely will have to be about more than the money you hope to take home.