A court battle is brewing between h3h3productions and BBTV

By 04/11/2023
A court battle is brewing between h3h3productions and BBTV

The couple behind h3h3productions and the digital media company known as BBTV are in the midst of a messy breakup. h3h3 co-host Ethan Klein has threatened to take BBTV to court after accusing the network of improperly claiming $620,000 of YouTube Channel Membership revenue.

h3h3productions partnered with BBTV in 2017, when the Vancouver-based company still referred to itself as BroadbandTV. By the terms of the agreement, h3h3 got to keep 100% of “Google Net Revenue,” which included income from YouTube.

The partnership carried on for years, but Klein recently noticed that something was “off.” With help from the h3h3 team, he discovered that BBTV had claimed $620,000 of revenue from Channel Memberships, even though those payments came from Google itself.


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Klein reached out to BBTV for clarification, and he claims that the network defined his Channel Membership sales as “Other Net Revenue,” which would entitle BBTV to a 30% cut. The call between the two companies quickly turned contentious. “I got pretty fiery on that call. I went kinda medieval,” Klein admitted in a recent video. “Obviously we’re suing them.”

The fallout from the dispute has been swift. Klein has unlinked his channels from BBTV and has worked with YouTube to set up a new Adsense account. Once Klein’s allegations went public, creators like Brody Foxx and ZachJamesOBZ checked their accounts and realized that BBTV had taken a cut of their Channel Membership revenue as well. Prominent gamer SypherPK also took to Twitter to describe a dispute he had with BBTV in 2018.

Klein believes that BBTV is taking bigger cuts from its partners to cover its losses. He noted that the network — which went public after a 2020 IPO — has seen a precipitous decline in its stock price over the past two years. Other BBTV partners, such as the drama commentator Kavos, claimed that their payouts from the network were suddenly delayed.

Because this saga features uneven payments, poor communications, and accusations of shady network behavior, Klein and others have drawn comparisons between BBTV and Defy Media, the multi-channel network that collapsed in 2018. While the situations may seem similar, BBTV has denied Klein’s allegations and has insisted that its actions are in line with the terms of its contracts. A representative for the company provided the following statement to Tubefilter:

“In the 18 years that we have been in business supporting thousands of creators across the world, we have never commented on situations with individual creators. That said, we feel the need to set the record straight in the face of Ethan Klein’s numerous factually incorrect statements, egregious and untrue allegations, and defamatory comments about BBTV. We have at all times followed our contractual obligations to the letter and are prepared to defend ourselves against these allegations.

Despite what Mr. Klein has falsely claimed BBTV is alive and well, having recently closed over $21M CAD of new funding. We are excited to serve the creator community and want to reassure creators that Mr. Klein’s commentary is both self-serving and incorrect.”

In their first podcast episode since the BBTV dispute blew up, Klein and his wife Hila have made clear that they do not intend to back down. The husband-and-wife duo behind h3h3productions has a long history in court, and it looks as if their latest kerfuffle will require more legal action.

Should those court proceedings arrive, the Kleins will have support from their colleagues in the creator community. “We’re going to have to wait to see what happens,” said Philip DeFranco in a recent video. “Based on what we’ve seen so far, it seems like the situation is plain as day.”

[UPDATE 4/13: After a conversation between Ethan Klein and BBTV CEO Shahrzad Rafati, the network has agreed to pay Klein $620,000 in order to settle the dispute. “It has been resolved,” Klein said in a recent podcast episode.]

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