Wednesday, July 24, 2024

ARGENTINA | 05-04-2023 16:00

Reino Infantil, Argentina's YouTube empire, streams its way to success

The most popular Spanish-language YouTube channel in the world is Reino Infantil, best known for its massive break-out series La Granja de Zenón. But behind its multi-million-dollar success story – and one of its most successful songs, lies a dispute with Salta-born singer Ricky Maravilla.

Not Disney, Bizarrap or Shakira – no, the most popular Spanish-language YouTube channel in the world is Reino Infantil, best known for its massive break-out series La Granja de Zenón.

Thanks to its child-oriented videos that rack up repeated views, Reino Infantil has become a multi-million-dollar multimedia empire. The channel, of Argentine origin, is the third-highest grossing in the world with more than 56 million subscribers on YouTube alone.

Its popular songs – including ‘El Gallo y la Pata,’ the hit which took Salta singer Ricky Maravilla to new heights – resound around the rooms and stereos of parents across the Spanish-speaking world.

Founded in 2011 by digital music and entertainment entrepreneur Roberto ‘Kuky’ Pumar, Reino Infantil has broken records online. Today the channel has earned an estimated US$102.2 million from YouTube and has positioned itself as the third-highest grossing channel on the site, surpassing heavyweight competitors such as Disney Latino. 

Reino Infantil is also the Spanish-language channel with the highest number of subscribers and ranks 13th in the history of the video site’s global rankings.

"Kids’ content is booming on YouTube in South America. Four of the continent's 10 countries boast a children's channel as its highest earner. However, none is more successful than Argentina's Reino Infantil," reported US financial portal Saving Spot

The online platform also noted that Reino Infantil is trailed regionally – by some distance – by Brazil's Gallina Pintada with 47.5 million, the second-highest grossing channel on the continent.

With millions of subscribers and billions of plays, the popularity of Zenón's Farm is more than apparent. It is also nothing new – many of its characters have permeated the homes of the Spanish-speaking world, in tune with the catchy songs which are no stranger to adults.

The man responsible for the breakthrough is Pumar, the creator of the production company Leader Entertainment Group (formerly known as Leader Music), which since the 1980s has specialised in the promotion of tropical music and cumbia artists. But with the help of his children's video platform, Pumar’s success has reached such a level that even Hollywood actors have filmed Instagram videos of themselves performing renditions of songs that became children's anthems, as stars Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher did with ‘La Vaca Lola.’

Since he bet on the digital world with Reino Infantil, Pumar has seen his creation become one of the most successful channels in the world in little more than a decade. He also now boasts possession of the video featuring the national artist with the most plays in the history of YouTube in Argentina: the aforementioned ‘El Gallo y la Pata,’ performed by Luis Ricardo Aguirre, better known as Ricky Maravilla.


Portfolio and popularity

Maravilla – the singer of hits such as ‘Qué tendrá el petiso?’ and ‘Salvaje Soy Salvaje’ – belongs to Pumar's recording portfolio, which also includes artists such as Leo Mattioli, Gilda, Pocho La Pantera and La Konga.

With more than 1.6 billion views, ‘El Gallo y la Pata’ – one of the first songs Maravilla recorded in his career and now adapted to the animated format – enjoys unprecedented popularity. Thanks to this mega earworm, the tropical music singer has even surpassed stars Nicki Nicole, María Becerra, L-Gante and Bizarrap on the video-sharing platform.

But beyond the numerical success, the relationship is not all roses – at least not for Ricky Maravilla. 

In an interview with Perfil, the singer assured that Leader Entertainment Group, Pumar's production company which owns the rights to his music, had "never informed him" that they would use his songs for the digital project, much less make him "a participant in the multi-million-dollar profits." 

On the contrary, Maravilla said he only found out about it once his song was already a smash hit.

"I signed a record contract, so they are paying me the record royalties, but not the video royalties," he explained.

"I signed my first record contract in 1986 when his company was still a garage. He [Pumar] would personally come to my house to ask me for songs and to record albums. 

“One year, 'Kuky' told me he was about to go bankrupt and asked me with tears in his eyes: 'Ricky, record a record for me and don't charge me anything.’ We did it and it was a success," he said, without elaborating on the disappointment which later took him to court to claim the rights to the popular La Granja de Zenón videos that use his hits.

Nevertheless, the 76-year-old tropical singer remains optimistic about the impact of his music and hopes his songs will inspire children. 

Asked about the composition of the popular song he co-authored with other musicians that catapulted him to fame, Aguirre said that "at that time, the themes of tropical music were singing about the palm tree, the beach, the river, the fisherman, typical Central American things – that's how the idea of marrying a rooster and a duck came about, it was something innovative.”

Regarding the success of his remastered songs, he said: "I'm very happy to have conquered four generations. My songs are touring the world, I receive videos from Russia, Spain, Mexico, USA, Australia – videos of kids dancing to my songs. They are being recorded in Portuguese, French and Russian. I'm very happy."

Perfil tried to contact Leader Entertainment Group and those close to Pumar for comment, but did not get a response.

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Cecilia Degl'Innocenti

Cecilia Degl'Innocenti

Politóloga. Licenciada en Relaciones Internacionales. Periodista.


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