YouTube suspends Russell Brand from advert income

Russell BrandJon Kopaloff / Getty

YouTube has suspended Russell Brand’s channels from making money from adverts for “violating” its “creator responsibility policy”.

The video platform said it was taking action “to protect” its users.

It comes after the Metropolitan Police received a report of an alleged sexual assault in 2003, in the wake of further allegations about the star.

Over the weekend the comedian and actor was accused of rape and sexual assaults between 2006 and 2013, which he denies.

“If a creator’s off-platform behaviour harms our users, employees or ecosystem, we take action,” a YouTube spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The move also comes after the remaining shows of Brand’s Bipolarisation tour were postponed.

In recent years, the former TV and radio personality has repositioned himself, posting regular videos about spirituality, anti-establishment politics and, recently, UFOs, to his 6.6 million subscribers.

YouTube’s decision to block his revenue streams applies to “all channels that may be owned or operated” by the 48-year-old, it confirmed to the BBC.

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Other channels associated with his main YouTube page include Awakening With Russell, Stay Free With Russell Brand and Football Is Nice, which have about 500,000 subscribers between them.

While YouTube noted that such bans are rare, it pointed to previous examples including the suspension of adverts from the channels of Slovak internet personality David Dobrik and US YouTuber and make-up artist James Charles.

Speaking to the Guardian on Monday, Sara McCorquodale, chief executive of social media analysis agency CORQ, said Brand’s YouTube channel would “most likely” be “making £2,000 to £4,000 per video, not taking into account any affiliate deals and brand sponsorships that might be running in the background”.

How do YouTubers make money?

There are lots of different ways for people to make money on YouTube.

One of the most obvious is through ad revenue. After gaining enough viewers, YouTubers can have ads running before and during their videos, earning varying amounts. One YouTuber with half a million subscribers recently showed the BBC they made around £10,000 from a video with 1.5 million views.

But the exact money made from videos can vary dramatically and be much lower – or even higher – than this.

Other ways of making money include channel memberships, where people subscribe to see more of your content, as well as super chat and super thanks, where a viewer can pay to have their message to the creator appear more prominently.

But the big way YouTubers make money is through sponsorships, known as “spons” in the community.

At the top of the description of all but his most recent video, in which he commented on the allegations, Brand has a prominently-placed spon. The companies include a skincare firm, a food supplement powder, a VPN and a coffee alternative.

Companies pay for prominent sponsorship on videos earning hundreds of thousands of views, and will generally pay much more for the amount of conversions – people who buy the product using the link. This could be anything from one twentieth to half the purchase price.

It’s impossible to accurately estimate how much this is, as the finances are agreed on a case-by-case basis. But suffice to say, it is not uncommon for a YouTuber to make more money through spons than any other income source on the platform.

Investigation and reaction

The allegations against Brand were made in a joint investigation by the Sunday Times, the Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches.

Ahead of its broadcast, Brand took to his online social media video platforms – YouTube, Instagram and X (formerly known as Twitter), as well as Rumble- to pre-emptively deny all claims of misconduct, saying he was the subject of “a co-ordinated attack” involving “very serious allegations that I absolutely refute”.

He added that his relationships had been “always consensual”.

On Monday, one of the women who has accused him of sexual assault when she was 16 has told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour his behaviour was an “open secret”.

The woman, known as Alice, added that allegations against him have been “a long time coming”.

Speaking for the first time since accusations became public, she said his denial was “laughable” and “insulting”.

Large following

Brand still has a presence on Rumble, where he has 1.4 million followers, and he hosts a regular show every weekday, but there was notably no new episode on Monday.

Prior to his reinvention as an online guru, the comedian’s traditional earnings were made through high-profile TV and radio presenting jobs, books and movie appearances, as well as his live comedy shows.

He performed for a crowd of 2,000 fans at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre – part of his Bipolarisation tour – on Saturday in the immediate aftermath of the claims.

In the crowd, a woman held a sign reading: “We stand by you.”

PR guru Mark Borkowski told the Daily Mail sections of his “cult” social media and podcast fanbase were likely to stand by him,

“I think there will be a profound amount of people who will stand by him. Normally with allegations like this your career would be over, but not in this case, which is interesting,” he said.

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