Disillusioned with YouTube, Philip DeFranco has released his own video app

If you’re someone who contributes to the one billion hours spent watching YouTube every day, you’ll likely have come across Philip DeFranco. I have, and I only chip in a very modest amount of time on the site – it’s mostly spent annoying my girlfriend by Chromecasting this to the TV when she’s trying to watch literally anything else.

Anyway, DeFranco publishes extremely slick, thoughtful and interesting monologues on what’s going on in the news and across YouTube in general – and he’s not afraid to call out some of the dreadful stuff that the site’s dubious algorithms seek to promote as the gold standard of content. From what I’ve seen, he’s a longstanding but impressively measured voice on a site that increasingly values shocking content over thoughtful discussion.

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So YouTube should probably take note that one of its longest-serving content creators has clearly had it with the site – and enough to actually start his own video site. In the past, DeFranco has described YouTube as an “alcoholic, negligent stepfather,” and expressed fears that his show “may not be able to survive” on the site thanks to the mysterious and opaque way it demonetises and hides videos on the fickle whim of advertisers. “At this point it really doesn’t matter if you’re [YouTube] swerving this car into a tree on purpose, or you’re asleep at the wheel and that’s just what happened,” he explains in the video below.

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DeFranco has 6,142,498 subscribers, and he’s now offering them the chance to enjoy his videos without YouTube making it harder for them to be spotted.

DeFranco Now is available both as an iOS app and via desktop, and lets viewers watch his content, post questions and talk about news on their own channels. It runs on Snakt, a business to which DeFranco is an advisor, and restores something lost in the mists of time on YouTube: video responses. “I didn’t want to just upload monologues to the internet. I really wanted to start a dialogue. Of course, you can leave comments, but comments are just text, and video-to-video interaction, it’s just deeper, it’s better. When you can look into the eyes of the person you are having a back and forth with, it just matters more.”

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That will definitely appeal to some, for sure, but the convenience of YouTube is hard to overstate. It will be interesting to see how many of DeFranco’s subscribers will rally behind a more reactive site, and how many will passively stick with what they know, despite its many obvious faults.

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