Russell Brand could see a hit of at least £20,000 a week to his lucrative social media empire after YouTube suspended advertising from his channel in the wake of sexual abuse allegations.
Sara McCorquodale, chief executive of social media analysis agency CORQ, says the comedian and actor would have been earning £2-£4,000 per video on the social media platform.
Mr Brand, 48, posts several videos a week for his 6.6million subscribers on his main YouTube channel, but on Tuesday blocked him from making money on the site.
The Google-owned company said they had suspended monetisation of Mr Brand’s channel for “off-platform behaviour”, adding it had taken “action to protect the (YouTube) community.”
In recent years, the comedian has repositioned himself as a prominent online commentator, posting videos about spirituality and anti-establishment politics.
His content has also been accused of promoting conspiracy theories and he spoke about one of his YouTube videos being “censored” last year for allegedly spreading Covid misinformation.
Ms McCorquodale said YouTube appeared to be Mr Brand’s main source of online income and his earnings from other platforms such as video site Rumble – where he has 1.4million followers – may also be “significantly decreased” due to his reduced visibility.
However, she added the suspension is likely to be short-term unless there are developments in any criminal inquiry. The Met Police has confirmed it has received one report of an alleged sexual assault in Soho, central London, in 2003.
She told i: “If this situation doesn’t lead to a criminal investigation, if it doesn’t end up with Brand in court, I wonder if YouTube will be like ‘we have to let him return to his channel’.
“Potentially there might be legal ramifications for them if they don’t allow it. Everything will depend on the next few weeks.
“I don’t think Russell Brand is going to be off YouTube forever. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was back there at some point, making money again.”
Mr Brand, who shot to fame as the host of Big Brother’s Big Mouth in the early 2000s, has a reported wealth of around £16 million following a successful career which saw him move on from TV presenting to star in a number of Hollywood movies including Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek.
However, with the remainder of his stand-up tour postponed and his book publisher having paused all future projects with the performer, two of his main traditional sources of income are also under threat.
Brand signed a £1.8m deal with publishers Harper Collins for two books in 2008 before agreeing a deal with current publishers Pam Macmillan in 2015. He was due to release Recovery: The Workbook in December but its future remains unclear after Pan Macmillan postponed its publication in light of “very serious allegations”.
Another cash-making option would be for Mr Brand to open a subscription service to distribute content which he would do “very successfully”, Ms McCorquodale said.
If his earnings continue to be impacted he may also launch a donation based-platform where his army of loyal fans can send him money.
“I think that is likely the inevitable future for his brand,” Ms McCorquodale added.
Adverts still running alongside Russell Brand denial video on Rumble
Rusell Brand will have earned no advertising revenue from a video posted on Friday denying “serious criminal allegations” posted to his 6.6m YouTube subscribers as he had chosen not to monetise the post, Ms McCorquodale said.
The video came the day before an investigation by The Sunday Times and Dispatches revealed accusations of rape and sexual assault from four women. Mr Brand denies wrongdoing and insists all his relationships have been consensual.
But adverts for well-known high-street brands are still running alongside Mr Brand’s videos posted on Rumble, where he hosts a weekday show to 1.4 million followers,
“I think it was very smart of him to demonetised that video in particular,” she said.
“But when I went on this morning to look at some of his Rumble content Burger King adverts are being run in his videos.”
Mr Brand’s ability to earn advertising revenue from YouTube would have been removed sooner had he not demonitised the video, she said, as brands would have gone “absolutely mad” at their product being promoted alongside his denials, an association which would have been “catastrophic” for their image.
The same video has been viewed more than 66 million times on Twitter/ X, whose owner Elon Musk has backed Mr Brand over the allegations, writing on the platform the media was reporting the allegations because “they don’t like the competition”.
While content producers on YouTube receive only around £3.50 per 1,000 views, she said, Mr Brand had turned it into a lucrative source of incoming by galvanising a huge disgruntled “post-Trump” audience.
Before his YouTube account was demonetised at 8am on Tuesday, viewers were also able to donate to him through a ‘Thanks’ button.
Meanwhile, placing his content on “free-speech” platform Rumble has allowed Mr Brand to access an audience attuned to his controversial anti-establishment stance which has seen him accused of promoting conspiracy theories, meaning it is unlikely his content will be sanctioned.
Companies House filings show Mr Brand’s Pablo Diablo’s Legitimate Business Firm Ltd which he co-owns with his wife, Laura Gallagher, more than doubled its net assets from just over £2 million in 2020 to just under £4.1 million in 2021.
He also has a member profile on the online platform Locals where members can pay a $60 (£48) annual subscription fee.
A weekly podcast, Under The Skin with Russell Brand, has featured interviews with stars including actor Ross Kemp, footballer John Barnes and musician Annie Lennox, but came to an end after five years in 2022.
A spokesperson for the podcast’s producers Luminary told i: “Luminary’s contract with Russell Brand ended more than a year ago and he no longer creates content for the network.”
Mr Brand’s other YouTube channels include Awakening With Russell, Stay Free With Russell Brand and Football Is Nice, which have about 500,000 subscribers between them.
As a household name and former Hollywood star, who became an A-list celebrity in the US following his marriage to pop star Katy Perry between 2010 and 2012, Ms McCorquodale, who has written the book How social media influencers are shaping our digital future, said Mr Brand finds himself in an almost unique position among other social media content creators.
She added: “He doesn’t need Luminary, he doesn’t need Rumble, he doesn’t need YouTube. He could do all of this himself.
“I remember saying to a really massive YouTuber, ‘Do you ever worry what if YouTube fails’?
“And she’s like, ‘No, it doesn’t matter, the platform doesn’t matter, because the audience is mine. The audience belongs to me. And once you’ve got the audience, you can go anywhere’. And that’s true.”