'Survivor' Producer Mark Burnett Takes Co-Ownership of Youtoo (Exclusive)
The Survivor and The Voice producer Mark Burnett’s One Three Television LLC has taken an ownership position in Youtoo.com, the social TV network, Youtoo CEO Chris Wyatt told The Hollywood Reporter exclusively.
Launched on Sept. 28, Youtoo has enabled 50,000 viewers to upload videos starring themselves on a cable network available in 177 U.S. cable markets, says Wyatt. Burnett produced 250 short-form programs to run between viewer-generated Youtoo content. "When we launched Youtoo.com in September, Mark's company VIMBY [Video in My Back Yard] produced the first season,” says Wyatt. “Mark believed in the technology and promoted the launch in the media. At the time, he was not an owner.”
Neither Wyatt nor Burnett said how much cash or other contribution Burnett made to earn his position, how big his equity stake is, nor whether Burnett might, say, sell his shares after an IPO and make a killing. “While I am not able to discuss the specifics of any investor agreements, the assets of the company are valued well in excess of $100 million," says Wyatt. Burnett released a statement, "I'm excited to find opportunities to deepen our audiences' connection with our shows through Youtoo's amazing technology,"and a new promotional video for the network.
Until September of last year, Youtoo was the American Life Network, a family-values station founded in 2009 by televangelist Robert Schuller, formerly with Crystal Cathedral and The Hour of Power broadcast, with his son-in-law Wyatt as CEO. Wyatt first won fame in 2007 launching the fast-growing Godtube, the Christian answer to Youtube. Wyatt noticed that viewers wanted to interact with the videos online and discuss their own beliefs, not just passively watch them.
Youtoo gives people the chance to interact with its programming. They can watch X-Files reruns and post 15-second “Fame Spot” videos featuring their own opinions and experiences with UFOS, or talk about their own personal heroic moments in Fame Spots with Batman reruns. The videos are seen on the broadcast and on Youtoo.com's site. They can also propose to their sweethearts on TV via the interactive program Say Yes & Marry Me. This is far more family-values-friendly programming than, say, The Bachelor, which might be entitled Say Yes Now & Maybe I'll Marry You Later.
Wyatt likens Youtoo to a kind of Facebook for TV. It is essentially a software company supplying end-to-end interactive TV and gaming services. Its technology screens user-uploaded videos for objectionable content, and will be marketed to other media companies. Wyatt vows to defend Youtoo’s many applications and new technology against unnamed competitors in court. “Our first patent will be issued this summer,” says Wyatt. “Naturally, I can not discuss the specifics of potential patent litigation.”