At a time when many believe that the broadcast era is ending, Invincible Entertainment is making a bet that combining its streaming channels with the YTA Broadcast Network will be a winner.
Invincible is an independent production and distribution company that also operates 18 free ad-supported streaming TV channels including Galxy TV and The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog Channel. Renowned producer Thom Beers of Deadliest Catch fame joined Invincible when Invincible bought the Business Rockstars streaming channel he co-founded for $20 million in 2020.
Little known YTA Broadcast Network launched as the Nostalgia Channel on cable in 1985. It has gone through a number of owners and names, but now reaches about 41 million homes through over-the-air affiliates in small markets and cable carriage.
Invincible CEO Thomas Ashley told Broadcasting+Cable that the acquisition was completed last month for an undisclosed amount of cash and stock, giving its old owner Centerpost Media a minority stake in Invincible.
“YTA came to us as an opportunity to acquire a traditional over-the-air broadcast TV network,” Ashley said. “One of our goals is to increase the distribution and improve the content that’s on the network. We have a large library to pull from.”
Asked if it was odd for a company in the booming FAST business to be buying a broadcast network, Ashley said that while some have sounded its death knell, “I don’t know that broadcast is dying.”
He noted that while people are paying for streaming networks like Hulu, they’re forgetting that much of the same programming is available for free over the air.
“The fact remains, a lot of people are watching broadcast,” Ashley said. “In some cases, it’s a better value proposition.”
A name change is likely for YTA in the near future, but Ashley said he was ready to announce the new branding.
Ashley said that Invincible will be programming YTA as a general entertainment network, with an eye toward “fanboys, nerd culture and gamers.”
Shows created by Beers have traditionally been male skewing and Beers said that some of the shows that he produced that are now owned by Fremantle could be showing up as part of a “Tom TV” block on YTA during primetime.
The first Beers show coming to YTA is Kings of Kush, which follows pitchman Anthony Sullivan’s effort to build a CBD farm in rural Vermont. Other shows that will land on FAST as well as YTA include Swords: Life on the Line, Black Gold, Whisker Wars, Storage Wars – Northern Treasures and America’s Lost Treasures.
In addition to the shows, Beers plans to create interstitial programming for the block that tells behind the scenes stories about how those shows were made.
“My sweet spot was a 35 year old male,” Beers said. “It’s a pretty good ad sweet spot too.”
Invincible plans different programming blocks for other dayparts on YTA. In the morning, and afternoon, it has a library of cartoons that could air. Invincible will also be bringing sports to the networks with MMA and baseball programming, though Ashley didn’t provide details.
Most of the people who keep YTA running will be staying on, Ashley said. But Invincible will be adding a top distribution person to increase YTA’s broadcast and streaming footprint, and a new in-house ad sales head.
Invincible currently works with a number of third-parties to sell inventory on its FAST Networks. It works with Beachfront on programmatic sales of the FAST networks and is looking for Beachfront to create a programmatic capability for YTA.
“That’s part of our strategy to meld these two worlds together,” Ashley said.
Invincible also plans to bring to YTA the “pay-them-to-watch strategy”' it is using on its Galxy TV channel, which went live two month ago. The network literally gives 15% of its revenues minus streaming costs to its users.
Viewers can get $2 to watch a movie and get another dollar for a written review. They get another dollar to post on Facebook or Twitter or to email a friend about a program on the network. Galaxy had its first pay-out in July. One user earned $140 dollars, Ashley said.
“We really believe that people pay more attention to what we're doing in that way and it'll be a great way that we can grow and build the brand.”
“Invincible is a clear leader in FAST streaming TV and tech. Combine that with their very deep content library and longstanding relationships with distributors and we felt this was a terrific opportunity for us to take the YTA Network to the next level,” said Scott Miller, CEO of YTA.
“We are delighted for this next step in the evolution of YTA and look forward to the next chapter of growth along with Invincible,” added YTA owner and Chairman Ed Frazier.
Even after acquiring YTA, Invincible plans to continue to roll out new FAST channels, even though distributors are getting more selective about what they’re willing to carry.
Invincible recently acquired Euro Cinema and just reimagined the brand as a FAST channel with foreign-language, subtitled content in the past few days. It also recently got together with Impact TV to launch Impact Professionals last month, a network for entrepreneurs looking to have a positive impact on the world and still be positive.
Grass Hoppa, a martial arts channel, is set to launch in the next 30 days. The title is a reference to the old series Kung Fu, which will not be appearing on the network however.■
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.