Real-life brothers, US-born Benny and Rafi Fine started their YouTube channel the Fine Bros with humble beginnings. Nine years on Fine Brothers Entertainment is now a huge YouTube operation thought to be worth over £5 million. Most famous for their ‘reaction’ videos such as ‘Kids React’, ‘Teens React’, ‘YouTubers React’ – they’ve used this format for almost a decade and have generated millions of views.
If you’re a YouTube fan, the likelihood is you’ve heard of The Fine Bros. Or, you may have found yourself browsing the site, six videos deep and watching a video of theirs without even knowing it.
But yesterday (1st Feb 2016) the Fine Bros shook the YouTube community with their new initiative. The launch of their ‘React World Program’ would allow fans to create their own ‘reaction’ videos. But wait… isn’t that something the world of YouTube can do anyway – and has been doing anyway?
The news came that the Fine Bros planned to trademark the word ‘react’. They’ve already trademarked ‘Kids React’, ‘Teens React’ and ‘Elders React’ – but this wasn’t enough for them. The Fine Bros wanted to mark the ‘reaction video’ as their original concept and any future ‘Reaction’ videos would result in financial gain for the Fine Bros.
The announcement didn’t go down well. Reaction videos have been around long before the Fine Bros had signed up to Youtube – a memorable one that keeps coming up is the excess of reaction videos to a once fabled clip entitled “Two girls, one cup”… (not that we’ve watched it).
In true viral fashion, top-name YouTube stars began commenting and even uploading parody videos such as ‘Reacting React World by the Fine Bros’:
A live stream has also been set up which broadcasts the number of subscribers that the channel is losing, at one point they were losing up to 90 subs per minute.
After a night of internet war – the Fine Bros released a statement explaining that they soon realised they had built a system “that could easily be used for wrong”, and that initiatives such as their ‘react’ trademark gave companies like theirs the “power to police and control online video”. They have called an end to their trademark applications and the ‘React World program’. They are confident that their actions will speak louder than their words – but this will be too little too late for many fans.
So was this a well-calculated PR stunt to get people talking about the Fine Bros? Or was it really a ill-judged business decision to try and land-grab a commercially valuable YouTube search term? Have Vloggers had their day? Only time will tell. If the subscribers keep falling at the current rate it would take 97 days until the Fine Bros hit zero. Maybe another YouTube scandal will come along and take the limelight away from Fine Bros, but for now, you can watch the live stream of their subscribers here, and see how well the React Program is working out for them.