Michelle Phan Is Ready to Reach Beyond YouTube With Her New Icon Network

Beauty influencer says she's 'platform agnostic'

Digital superstar Michelle Phan, who's dominated the online beauty space and made her presence known offline with her YouTube ad campaign, hopes her new worldwide network Icon will have a robust presence—on the Web, but also potentially on TV.

"I'm platform agnostic," Phan said. "I've been platform agnostic ever since I went online. I'm not saying I'm jumping ship (from YouTube). Platforms—they come and go, but storytelling is forever."

Icon is an international lifestyle network created by Phan and digital network Endemol Beyond, part of Dutch production company Endemol. Icon will focus on beauty, fashion, wellness, DIY, food, travel and human-interest content created by Phan and a slew of online influencers like Ann Le, Sonya Esman, Kassie Isabella, Jessica Standley, Promise Phan and celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg. Icon launched on March 31 in the U.S. and U.K. and will roll out in Western Europe and Asia in the summer and fall, respectively. 

Phan created the female-focused, lifestyle network FAWN (For All Women Network) on YouTube in 2012. She said she received $1 million to launch FAWN and had some succes with it—she discovered a young Bethany Mota, for example. However, she needed more support and funding to take things to the next level. Partnering with Endemol Beyond for Icon gave her more resources and a broader reach.

While the Icon influencers have a huge presence on YouTube—together, they have garnered more than 2.4 billion views on the platform—their content won't just live there. Icon videos will be available on Dailymotion, Roku, Pluto TV and natively on Facebook. They can also be found on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter—especially through Periscope.

"I'm not thinking of leaving YouTube anytime soon," Phan said. "A lot of my followers are still there. That doesn't mean I should limit myself to where I can expand and reach other demographics like on Facebook and Snapchat."

Phan also said Icon will have linear TV programming, which could be of significant interest to her international content creators trying to make their presence known in the U.S. Endemol has experience in that arena—it produces shows like Big Brother, Deal or No Deal, Hot in Cleveland and Peaky Blinders—so it's not too much of a stretch to imagine Phan's network ending up on TV screens. 

"Wherever our viewers are, we'll be," Phan said.