AmericanLife TV Network Tuesday converted to Youtoo TV, billing itself as a social media TV network that lets viewers record short videos and air them on the channel.
Chris Wyatt, CEO of the channel, which claims around 15 million cable subscribers, told Multichannel News Tuesday afternoon that "affiliates are very excited" about the new format and said the channel would be making announcements soon about more rollouts.
He said his goal is to grow the channel beyond 40 million homes, and license technology to other outlets and programs.
But a format change gives distributors an opportunity to opt out of carrying a transformed channel, and at least one existing affiliate, Charter Communications, said it would be dropping Youtoo as of Nov. 15.
Producer Mark Burnett's VIMBY (Video In My Back Yard) will produce short original videos that will air on the network, tied in with licensed programs including The X Files, Batman and Green Hornet, Youtoo said.
VIMBY-produced segments will feature hosts -- including Dan Haglund of The X Files -- who talk about the program and invite viewers to submit a video that will air later in the program. As USA Today noted in an article about Youtoo, an example would be asking X Files viewers to answer the question, "Have you ever seen something in the woods you couldn't explain?" Some 500 viewer videos per day will air on the network.
Wyatt said the channel has developed technology that records videos made on an Apple or Android computer, smart phone or tablet in high definition; vets them for unsuitable language or imagery or copyrighted material; and puts them on air, after they also have been screened by network staff members. Videos could go from submission to air in minutes, he said.
Godtube.com founder Wyatt and business partner the Rev. Robert A. Schuller bought ALN in 2009 -- as a laboratory to build out this automated broadcast infrastructure, Wyatt said. Wyatt's Comstar Media also bought the FamilyNet channel in 2009. FamilyNet will operate separately under Schuller and the Comstar corporation was dissolved, Wyatt said.
To begin, Youtoo TV is accepting 15-second videos dubbed "Fame Spots."
Over time, Wyatt said, the network would be offering people who visit the Web site Youtoo.com site credits valued at up to $200 to switch to another TV provider if their current provider doesn't carry Youtoo. "We think that's a pretty compelling proposition, especially when we're giving you $200 on the spot to change providers."
Wyatt said current affiliates include most major cable providers other than Cablevision Systems.
Time Warner Cable, the network's biggest affiliate, said through spokeswoman Maureen Huff: "We're following it, and they've been keeping us apprised of their programming plans."
Charter spokeswoman Anita Lamont said: "Making the most dynamic and efficient use of our network is a priority; one we believe is in the best interest of customers. And this means, at various times, difficult choices must be made about programming. Those considerations were top of mind as we made the decision to discontinue carriage of Youtoo. We are notifying customers well in advance that effective Nov. 15, the programming will be discontinued." Charter carried ALN, now Youtoo TV, on the Digital View service level, she said.
Youtoo TV VP of affiliate sales Matt Coren said through a spokesman: "Most carriers have chosen to carry the network based on Youtoo technology and its promise to be a major profit center for our carriers." He said the Charter decision, triggered by the format change, related to ALN's performance, not the new format.
Other VIMBY spots will feature Miss USA Shandi Finnessey, American Idol Extra host Mikalah Gordon and actor Brian Kimmet, Youtoo said.
The network said the programs were shot in a high-tech Youtoo designed set and were produced by Mike Sears, a long term Burnett collaborator who produced TBS's long-running Dinner and a Movie, and VIMBY executive producer David Goffin.
Also on the network will be new TV versions of Web series including Howcast, PJTV, Geekbeat.tv, Koldcast, Rooftop Media along with Diggnation and an original Youtoo TV series, The best of Revision3. The network also will have interactive programs including Say Yes & Marry Me, which will offer viewers the opportunity to propose marriage on-air via "Fame Spots."
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