On March 15th, Philip DeFranco told his viewers he needed a week-long break.
The popular commentator and vlogger, who is one of the most ubiquitous members of the YouTube community and has over 5.1 million subscribers on his main channel, cited “personal and business stuff,” including “things that could prevent me from making [The Philip DeFranco Show] in the future,” as the reasons behind his hiatus. He noted that words he shared with his viewers were “as much as I can tell you legally.”
Since he posted that video, his fans have tried to figure out what exactly is going on. The general consensus is that something is rotten in the state of DeFranco, and his relationship with his bosses seems to be fraught.
To get an idea of what’s going on, it’s important to understand the business structure under which DeFranco Creative, the studio that produces The Philip DeFranco Show and SourceFed, operates. A landmark 2013 deal saw Discovery acquire DeFranco Creative through its Revision3 network, and for years, that led to a fruitful partnership. Last year, DeFranco’s assets moved again, this time taking residence underneath the banner of Group Nine Media, a massive media company formed out of a $100 million investment and partnership between Discovery and several properties in venture capitalist Ben Lerer’s Lerer Hippeau Ventures portfolio, including NowThis, Thrillist, and The Dodo.
We don’t have any hard evidence the “business stuff” DeFranco talked about in his video is related to the formation of this new entity. But for what it’s worth, in the months since the Group Nine Media deal, the company’s leadership (including Lerer) seems to have developed a tense relationship with some of DeFranco’s new sister company’s creative staff. A recent Deadspin report, for example, chronicled the not-entirely-amicable labor negotiations between Group Nine and members of its Thrillist Media Group subsidiary, which hoped to form a union.
Tubefilter has reached out to Group Nine, and we will comment back if the holding company offers any information.
Whatever is bothering DeFranco, it seems to have been a long time coming. He’s the guest on the latest episode of the h3h3productions podcast, and back when that show was recorded (sometime in 2016, though it was just uploaded to YouTube this week), he offered a foreboding message at the very end of the conversation. “If for some reason I am no longer on my channel three months into next year,” he says at the end of his conversation with Ethan and Hila Klein, “if I’m unable to post on my channel, and I’ve disappeared from the Internet, can I count on a shout-out from you guys?”
That quote brings a somewhat ominous twist to DeFranco’s week-long hiatus, but we hope to see sxephil back on his signature set in the near future, and when he returns, perhaps he will be able to offer more context. He is, after all, known for his transparency; one would think that he will tell his viewers whatever “business stuff” he is able to share.
UPDATE 3/16/17 1 PM ET: Speaking of ominous twists, here’s DeFranco’s latest tweet.
— Philip DeFranco (@PhillyD) March 16, 2017
Changes, indeed, though it could all just be part of DeFranco’s already planned move he discussed at the top of his most recent vlog. Stay tuned.