From Riches to More Riches: Philip DeFranco

When one thinks of the kind of person who would benefit form a platform like Patreon their mind often gravitates towards independent illustrators, podcasters, musicians, and other “starving” artists looking for a means of sustaining themselves while also doing work that hey love. It does not seem like the kind of place that well-established business people would benefit from or even be welcome in. But a user named Philip DeFranco challenges this preconceived notion.

Philip DeFranco first found success on YouTube where he had been producing videos for over 11 years on his self titled channel. He is an independent news reporter who prides himself in presenting stories with as balanced as a view as possible while also acknowledging his own opinion and personal bias. His goal, as he often states, is to “start a conversation” with his show rather than simply push an agenda, and as a result has acquired a loyal fan base from all walks of life and economic backgrounds, and have resulted in his show winning numerous awards.

In 2012 he sold his show to Discovery Digital Networks and as a result had a very stable income and opportunity to explore some other projects, but did not see much opportunity for upwards mobility. So in 2017 he was able to buy the rights to his channel back and started his own company, Rouge Rocket, and is currently working on a number of endeavors under this umbrella, such as a weekly podcast and a digital marketing consultancy which aims to connect content creators to advertisers.


Soon after leaving Discovery DeFranco launched his Patreon page, DeFranco Elite, which for a time was the most donated to person on Patreon. However he was unhappy with the stigma built around using Patreon as a form of income, as it is seen as more of a donation service rather than what he intended to use it for; a subscription service.

Depending on the tier of the Patron, you would receive monthly perks and benefits; a new mug, a new poster, a new T-Shirt. Furthermore, you would receive early and exclusive access to many more experimental works before they are made available to the public, as well as having a more direct line of communication with the team themselves.

The goal was not to fund his show, as he already received sufficient funds through Sponsorships and personal investments. Rather it is a means for the company to branch out to become beyond just a YouTube show to more of a recognizable brand beyond just the “Philip DeFranco” persona. This is illustrated throughout a number of his different actions, as he prides himself in being just as interested in the business side of the media industry as he is in the more performative aspects.

He has long expressed interest in utilizing Patreon as a temporary means of distribution due to the fact that, as previously mentioned, he is trying to move away from the “donation” label and more towards the “subscription” label. But an advantage of using Patreon as is is that, despite the stigma, it provides the tools to execute the subscription vision, even if it is not the exact purpose that the sight was intended to be used for.

DeFranco is, in my opinion, an outstanding example of ingenuity and innovation in online spaces. He will see an opportunity that many others may not even consider and take it. His high earning spot on the Patreon leaderboard is well earned from my point of view, and I think that anyone with an interest in independent news sources and new media should keep an eye on his work.

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