Highest-Grossing Media Franchise

If you were to guess the highest-grossing media franchise of all time, you may think it involved a mouse. You would be close, but the top-earning mouse of all time is yellow — and his name is…


That’s right. Pokémon — not Mickey Mouse — is the highest-grossing media franchise as of 2022.

The Japanese franchise debuted in 1996 with 150 characters or “pocket monsters.”

Over the years, Pokémon has earned over $100 billion worldwide, according to Statista

However, what are the elements that make this brand a continual success? They follow basic business principles. Here is what Pokémon is doing right. 

Gotta buy ’em all

Originally, Pokémon was just a video game. Since, they have expanded into books, movies, trading cards, and character-based merchandise.

It would be remiss to not mention the many video game sequels since that initial 1996 release. 

The Pokémon franchise is the master of scaling. 

This doesn’t only apply to the types of media and products they offer. The highest-grossing franchise applies this to the massive number of Pokémon in existence. 

First, players of the original video game were challenged to catch all 150. Now, according to the National Pokédex, there are 913 Pokémon fans can collect.

As a strategy, it attracts new players (customers) and keeps regulars interested (loyalty). 

The highest-grossing media franchise knows what works

You don’t get to be the highest-grossing media franchise of all time without knowing what people want.

The Pokémon games have changed little of how the game plays and storylines over the years — and that’s a good thing. 

The main changes they have made are adapting successful features to modern technology and more characters. Those are the elements that keep their audience invested. Therefore, they know it ain’t broke, so they don’t fix it. 

In conclusion, there may be more reasons that Pokémon is the highest-grossing media franchise of all time. Nevertheless, the reasons above are the strongest. They are also the two most violated by failing businesses.

As a business owner, what’s the big takeaway here? Don’t change what works and scale as much as possible, and your company can thrive as well. 

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