At the end of January this year Benny and Rafi Fine (aka the Fine Brothers) debuted their latest step in entertainment evolution known as React World. The basic idea was that they were going to franchise their Youtube channel content (i.e. *So and So* Reacts, Lyric Breakdown, Kids Vs. Food) allowing up and comers to use their intellectual property without paying right off the bat. This would allow Fine Brothers Entertainment to promote and send subscribers to these channels while getting a percentage of the channel’s revenue. A simple idea that rocked the Internet with a ton of backlash. We’re now two months removed from the controversy, so lets look back and objectively dissect the entire incident.
-A Simple Announcement-
On January 26th the Fine Brothers debuted their announcement for React World. Many fans around the world wanted to see the opinions of other cultures in the React format. The Fine Brothers obliged in setting up this franchise opportunity. The initial reaction was extremely divisive. Fans were supportive while online media and a few fellow Youtubers were skeptical.
-Digging into the Past-
As stated in The Social Network, “The Internet is not written in pencil. It’s written in ink.” Which meant people started digging into The Fine Brothers’ past. What they found were two things that were considered major red flags by commentators. First was their trademark filings that included Kids React, Teens React, Elders React, and most recently and worrisome the word React itself. This was seen as a tool to stifle possible competition from being able to create React videos unless they were partnered with Fine Brothers Entertainment. Secondly were the stories that leaked out about how the Fine Brothers had been critical in the past of what were considered knock-offs of their brand. This included content created by Ellen DeGeneres and the website Buzzfeed. Both times they’d asked fans to speak out against these imitations. Worst of all were stories from Youtubers who accused the Fine Brothers of flagging their channels and videos for infringing on their content. Critics used this to question the validity of their right to React videos.
-If You Love Burger King…-
Once the pitchforks came out the Fine Brothers came back with a follow-up video. This video tried to explain their intentions with React World and the trademark accusations. They spoke of how you can open an independent restaurant and find success or open a Burger King and use their brand recognition and menu to be successful. Critics again hammered them for appearing disingenuous and condescending in their explanations. While their body language could be read that way it also looked like two guys who had been through the ringer and hadn’t gotten a decent nights sleep. With good reason as they were being vilified on Reddit and hemorrhaging subscribers by the thousands.
-The End Before Anything Started-
On February 1st the Fine Brothers posted a message on Medium stating they were discontinuing React World and rescinding all previous “React” trademarks. Since then they have gone back to their normal Youtube schedule of releasing daily content. On March 31st they announced on social media their first feature film entitled “Text Me When it’s Over” had begun shooting.
-What Could’ve Been?-
This is the million dollar question. If React World had gone through what would that have meant? Have we lost out on seeing a new group of Youtubers who would have gotten a leg up thanks to an already established channel? Some people said that the deal (which entailed 20% of AdSense revenue and 30% of premium brand deals) was worth it for a chance to get connected with the Fine Brothers’ 13+ million subscribers. I think it’s fair to assume the Fine Brothers went into React World with the best intentions. But as the saying goes, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” I hope that React World did not turn them off to helping new talent get their start. So what are your thoughts? Are you still a fan of the Fine Brothers? Do you look forward to their upcoming film?