Ray William Johnson has an enormously popular YouTube show with =3 (also known as Equals 3) and a reported revenue of close to $1 million per year, but the web star said he plans to give it up in 2014 to chase something bigger.
Johnson announced on Facebook his plans to retire the show Equals 3 sometime in the next year, telling fans:
“Hate to start the day off on a less than positive note, but it’s official: I’m retiring Equals Three at some point in 2014 (not yet sure the exact date). I plan on moving forward and focusing on other aspects of my career.
“It was fun while it lasted, but I figure I should retire the show while it’s still getting good numbers, as opposed to keeping it going for the next few years and inadvertently running it into the ground.
“I’ll keep you updated. Thanks again for understanding.”
The move was quite a surprise given the popularity of the program. The show, featuring funny video clips along with snarky commentary by Ray William Johnson, draws in millions of viewers.
It has reportedly helped turn Ray, also known as RayWJ, into a millionaire. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that Ray William Johnson had more than 1.5 billion views, which put him on par with even some cable networks.
“Look at some of these major YouTube stars, [who] aggregate two, three, four million views of their content,” said David Cohen, the global digital officer of Universal McCann. “That rivals second- and third-tier cable networks. This is a microcosm of what’s going on in the overall media landscape. We’re moving from a scaled mass media to more hyper-local, niche media.”
The report estimated that Ray William Johnson makes more than $1 million each year from the YouTube videos.
But Ray has always referred to the show as a hobby, saying he has some bigger dreams in mind.
“Maybe someday, if I work hard enough, entertainment will be a career for me, but right now making videos and uploading them to the Internet is just a hobby,” Ray said last year. “I run advertisements and sell T-shirts to cover overhead costs and pay the few people who help me out behind the scenes… Anything left over is spent on production costs, animation costs, etc.”
In his Facebook post, Ray indicated that it was time for him to move beyond the show.
“I totally understand those of you who are upset, but to give you a better understanding of where my head is at right now with Equals Three, let me put it this way: In late 2014 I’ll turn 33 years old. How long could you expect me to reasonably keep up the immature act?”
Ray William Johnson hasn’t indicated just when this year he plans to retire Equals 3.