Viral Visionaries

Viral Visionaries: Are YouTubers beginning to jump ship?

Viral Visionaries: Are YouTubers beginning to jump ship?

Despite efforts to improve and address certain discrepancies within it's platform, YouTube is still disappointing some creators.

So much so, that leading creator Philip 'PhillyD' DeFranco has launched his own video platform called DeFranco Now, independent from YouTube.

In a recent statement, DeFranco said he's "tired of trying to work with the alcoholic, negligent stepfather that is YouTube" and “at this point, it really doesn’t matter if you’re swerving this car into a tree on purpose, or you’re just asleep at the wheel and that’s what happened.”

In light of this, we asked our panel of Viral Visionaries whether other YouTube creators will be inclined to jump ship, and whether this will YouTube in the long run.

Matt Collins COO Nerdcubed LTD

This is just one platform in a long line of ‘YouTube Alternatives’ that have all failed within a couple of years.

While we at NerdCubed would happily welcome a site that could genuinely compete with YouTube, the unfortunate reality is that a startup will never be able to compete.

Unless another big company like Amazon or Apple decide to make a competitor, then it won’t really take off.

I might sound defeatist, but the reality of working as a content creator is that YouTube is already a very unstable income source, why would we want to destabilise it even more by moving to another unproven platform?

Twitch is unique in this situation as it’s already an established site adding proper video upload functionality. Unfortunately, even if it’s a good alternative for gaming channels, it’s not for anyone else. I’d welcome a proper alternative, but realistically it’s not coming any time soon.

Phil Ranta Head of Creators Mobcrush

DeFranco Now with its current pitch is unlikely to affect YouTube in the long run. It's positioned primarily as a video destination for fans. The most unique value proposition at the moment is the chance to be featured on his show.

But the frustration with YouTube in the creator community is real. It's a great time to launch competing platform if you're able to assemble one heck of a pitch.

Remember, what you're competing against is a powerful search and discovery engine, one-click monetisation (once it's set up), and billions of users watching video on the platform every month.

The only platforms that have been able to take a bite out of YouTube have cornered a different niche in the content universe - Twitch with gaming, Vine with micro-content, Snapchat with ephemeral video.

If a platform can launch something that makes content easier and more fun to make AND monetise at a higher rate per piece of content (not per view) and build a creator's audience faster, they have a real chance.

Chris Sutcliffe Social insights manager Substance Global

If DeFranco shows that this new model can be successful, of course there will be other large-scale YouTube creators that will take advantage of it. 

It’s notable that even someone as large as DeFranco hasn’t stopped posting on YouTube. That’s just where the audience is.

However, at the moment, it seems like a model that will only work with established creators, the top 1 per cent of creators.

A new creator can’t start off with their own app. They just won’t have an audience. Their audience is currently on YouTube, where it’s possible to browse for new content and new creators.

It’s notable that even someone as large as DeFranco hasn’t stopped posting on YouTube. That’s just where the audience is.

In the long term, I don’t feel that YouTube will change all that much. It will remain the place where creators can build their audience, even if the 1% of the top creators later flee to start their own video hosting sites. I would expect to see YouTube develop a video response feature though.

Shanzay Usama Creative development & digital media manager Maverick Media

Demonetisation and view suppression has been frustrating both for creators and viewers. Creators have already been using other channels (like Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.) to promote their videos - they understand that simply uploading a video to YouTube won’t cut it anymore - this is inherently problematic.

The issue with this news for YouTube lies in the difference between PhillyD and other creators - he is an OG YouTuber, he’s been doing it for over a decade - meaning his influence isn’t just on viewers - the intrinsic YouTube Creator community probably also value his opinion.

That being said - as of yet, many platforms have tried, almost all have failed, to build any competitor to YouTube. I’m sure many YouTube Creators have been tempted to move to another platform, but the question is - where can they build a sustainable career?

Twitch is the only platform that has established itself as a real threat to YouTube - and long-term maybe it could be - but again, as of yet, it is seen as a platform specifically for gamers.

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Danielle Partis is editor of and former editor of She was named Journalist of the Year at the MCV Women in Games Awards 2019, as well as in the MCV 30 under 30 2020. Prior to Steel Media, she wrote about music and games at Team Rock.