YTV puts thumbs in ring, courts older crowd

In a bid to get laughs out of young kids and bring in an older crowd, Corus has imported a live-action, fictional thumb wrestling league for its Friday nights in YTV's New Year schedule. Already, Spin Master is working with YTV on a tie-in, and the net is pursuing other promo opps for marketers.

Corus Entertainment has imported Thumb Wrestling Federation: TWF from Nicktoons in the US, and the show’s premiere on Friday, Jan. 5 (6 pm and 8 pm) is backed up by a microsite through (currently boasting more the 90 million page views). The site will feature video clips posted after each episode and new character bios each week.

The program was created by executive producer Larry Schwarz, of NYC-based Animation Collective – although it does seem to hve been inspired by the thumb humour trend set by Steve Oedekerk, whose Thumbnation featurette films (such as the The Blair Thumb and the Star Wars spoof Thumb Wars: The Phantom Cuticle) have gained quite a following.

YTV’s acquisition strategy is aimed at remaining loyal to its core demo, ages 6-11, but TWF also fits with the secondary priority to co-viewing audiences. This comedy is expected to appeal to adults 18-49, joining the evening line-up of programs that fit the co-viewing strategy, such as Malcolm in the Middle, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and The Fresh Prince of Belair.

The TWF segments will air every Friday night for 11 weeks, including one-minute bios of the individual wrestlers, 45-second gags and two three-and-a-half minute thumb wrestling matches. The show concludes with a final 10-minute match on March 16 that will determine the ultimate champ.