Vizio Ups Q1 SmartCast OS Streaming Hours 14%

Vizio May 12 reported that more than 4.1 billion hours of SmartCast OS content was streamed by the consumer electronics manufacturer’s smart TV owners in the first quarter, ended March 31. That was up 14% from 3.6 billion hours streamed in the previous-year period.

Vizio, like other Chinese CE manufacturers, has implemented a branded operating system affording users access to the internet and third-party apps and platforms. In addition, Vizio also streams select ad-supported video content in attempt to compete against AVOD platforms such as Tubi, Pluto TV and The Roku Channel, among others.

Irvine, Calif.-based Vizio ended the quarter with 15.6 million active accounts, which was up 16% from 13.5 million accounts in the previous-year period. Even better, average revenue per SmartCast user increased 64% to $23.68 from $14.43 per user last year.

Meanwhile, Vizio shipped 1.4 million Smart TVs in the quarter, which was down 11% from 1.5 million units in the previous-year period. Device revenue dropped 16% to $382.9 million, from $453.5 million.

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The company posted a net loss of $11 million on revenue of $485.5 million in the quarter, compared to profit of $3.4 million on revenue of $505.7 million a year ago.

“I am extremely proud of our exceptional first quarter results,” William Wang, CEO of Vizio, said in a statement. “It has been 20 years since [we] first revolutionized the TV market offer[ing] affordable HDTVs, smart-TVs, and six years ago we launched our own operating system.”

Vizio, which launched an IPO a year ago pricing shares at $21 each, saw shares close May 12 at $7.57 per share.

Ampere: AVOD Services Grew Original Content by More Than 100 Titles in Past Two Years

Major advertising-funded VOD platforms have joined the original content goldrush, with services such as Roku, Tubi and IMDb TV collectively releasing more than 100 new original titles in the past two years, according to a new report from Ampere Analysis.

Also, U.S. AVOD services with the highest investment in original content have seen the largest growth in usage, according to Ampere. Tubi, which has launched 20 original titles, saw monthly usage grow by 164%, by Ampere’s estimates, between Q3 2020 and Q3 2021.

AVOD originals cannot compete with titles from larger SVOD services, which are also creating more originals. AVOD platforms can’t match the billions of dollars spent by the leading SVOD players in the creation of original content, according to Ampere. AVOD services are smaller in scale, and the advertising business model will struggle to justify the sorts of multi-million-dollars-per-hour content investments which the leading SVOD players have applied to new flagship titles. However, according to Ampere’s analysts, one fundamental calculation for investing in original content remains true for both service types: As platforms expand globally, original content investments scale well. Investing in originals is a consistent way to offer exclusive content worldwide without incurring additional licensing costs in each market, according to Ampere.

Additionally, while AVOD originals do not yet provide enough of a draw to pull viewers away from larger SVOD platforms entirely, they do differentiate services within the increasingly fragmented AVOD market, and offer a reason for viewers to choose one service over another, according to Ampere.

Roku has invested more extensively in original-branded content, in part because of its acquisitions of Quibi’s content assets and its focus on low-cost-per-hour content. Of the six most popular AVOD platforms in the United States, Pluto TV is the only one not to have invested meaningfully in original programming — although it is in a position to take advantage of the programming slate of its parent company — Paramount — and outside the United States has become the temporary home for hit Paramount originals such as “Star Trek: Discovery.”

“Despite AVOD originals not having an impact in the wider streaming market — largely limited by their current lack of reach — AVOD platforms should not stop their investment,” said Joseph Hall, analyst at Ampere Analysis, in a statement. “Our analysis shows that the AVOD platforms with the highest growth in use since Q3 2020 are those with the most released or announced original programming.”

FilmRise Acquires North American Streaming Rights to ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ TV Series

New York-based film and television studio and streaming network FilmRise has acquired North American rights to stream TV episodes based on the anime property “Yu- Gi-Oh!” from Konami Cross Media NY, a member of the Konami Group.

The deal grants AVOD streaming rights for the FilmRise Streaming Network, including all FilmRise owned and operated apps and FAST channels. 

“Adding ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ to our content offering is a major step forward for FilmRise in our aim to offer fans the opportunity to watch their favorite anime programs for free. This iconic Japanese property will be featured alongside other beloved anime content on our FilmRise Anime channel, a growing new destination for North American anime fans,” Max Einhorn, SVP of acquisitions and co-production at FilmRise, said in a statement. 

“We are excited to partner with FilmRise to expand the reach of the ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ series to fans on their successful and rapidly growing FilmRise Streaming Network,” Kristen Gray, president of Konami Cross Media, said in a statement.

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The “Yu-Gi-Oh!” franchise is based on the manga series that inspired a trading card game played with monsters, spells and traps, several video games, the television series and more. The video streaming package includes 808 episodes of the “Yu-Gi-Oh!” TV series in English, and 541 dubbed in Spanish. It includes “Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters” (236 episodes); “Yu-Gi-Oh! GX” (155 episodes); “Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s” (123 episodes); “Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL” (146 episodes) and “Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V” (148 episodes).

Mad for Ads

I’m old enough to remember that when cable first appeared on the television scene, one of its biggest enticements was little to no advertising with the content compared to broadcast.

Slowly but surely, over the decades each cable channel gathered more and more advertising until watching a two-hour movie could stretch to nearly four hours with ads, and I could do a load of laundry and wash the dishes during the typical interminable ad break.

No advertising was also an initial enticement for streaming services, and first-mover Netflix is still sticking to its guns on that feature, as is the new upstart Apple TV+. But competitors seem to be jumping into the advertising market with both feet, with Disney+ recently announcing it would provide an ad-supported option for budget-minded customers beginning in late 2022.

I recently watched an original on the ad-supported option of one of these services and was dismayed to see how many ad breaks there were. It seemed every time the drama crescendoed another ad broke the tension.

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I am seeing signs that the ad-supported streaming tier is going to turn into coach-class, as opposed to first-class. Those first-class streamers who can pay will see shows uninterrupted while those that can’t will get what they used to get with cable and what made them leave cable in the first place — more and longer ad breaks.

Vizio’s WatchFree+ to Bow Exclusive Lifestyle Series With Tori Spelling

Vizio is collaborating with MyTime Movie Network to launch the new lifestyle streaming series “@Home with Tori,” starring actress, author,and TV personality Tori Spelling.

Currently in production and scheduled to premiere on Vizio’s free streaming service WatchFree+ in May, the 10-episode Vizio exclusive TV series centers around themes curated by Spelling, best known for her role in the 1990s TV show “Beverly Hills 90210.”

The series will feature everything from family-themed episodes with mothers and daughters to pool parties and cocktail specials. Spelling will showcase tips and tricks for cooking, baking and entertaining as she prepares dishes from locally sourced foods joined by her family, expert chefs, and celebrity guests, including Patti Stranger of “The Millionaire Matchmaker.” “@Home with Tori” celebrates themes ranging from family traditions, travel, birthday and holiday festivities.

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“To say I’m excited to film a series with my friends and family from the comfort of my own home would be an understatement,” Spelling said in a statement. “From cooking to entertaining, we hope to inspire viewers to create memorable experiences from home. We are going to have a lot of fun, and I’m thrilled the Vizio audience will be along for the journey with us.”

“We were excited to work with Tori Spelling and Jacob Nasser to create these episodes that Vizio audiences will love,” Greg Barnard, director of content acquisition at Vizio and executive producer of “@Home with Tori,” said in a statement. “Based on our Inscape data, we know that they enjoy cooking, DIY, and entertainment, and together we developed the episodes that were a natural fit for Tori’s passions and that would resonate with what our viewers want to watch most. This show invites audiences to join Tori and special guests in her home for an exclusive entertainment experience and is another great example of how we continue to deliver programming that is unique, relevant and available only on Vizio.”

“@Home with Tori” is the first original production from MyTime Movie Network, a female-focused network of channels that’s available in 19 countries and six languages.

FilmRise Inks Streaming Distribution Deal for ‘Kids in the Hall’

FilmRise, the New York-based film and television studio and streaming network, has acquired SVOD, AVOD and FAST streaming rights to Broadway Video’s Canadian sketch comedy series “Kids in the Hall.”

The deal includes rights to all five seasons (110 episodes) of the series, which is being rebooted by Amazon with all five cast members of the Toronto-based comedy show returning.

“Since Amazon’s announcement of their plans to reboot the series, there has been overwhelming demand from fans to re-watch the original episodes,” said Max Einhorn, SVP, co-productions and acquisitions for FilmRise, in a statement. “We are excited to bring both die-hard fans and a whole new generation the entire series to stream on their favorite platforms.”

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“Kids in the Hall,” an irreverent sketch comedy series that debuted on HBO and CBC Television in 1989, features Canadian comedians Scott Thompson, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, Dave Foley and Bruce McCulloch.  The first three seasons ran on HBO until moving to CBS in 1993. The series finale aired in 1995 and was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series.

Chicken Soup for the Soul AVOD Streaming App Added to Vizio Service

The Chicken Soup for the Soul AVOD streaming service application has been added to the Vizio service, Crackle Plus, a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company, announced.

The streaming service will offer three thousand hours of at launch, including exclusive programming from Chicken Soup for the Soul original series such as “Smart Home Nation.”

“Vizio is pleased to launch the Chicken Soup for the Soul app and offer our audience titles from such a beloved brand,” Katherine Pond, VP of business development for Vizio, said in a statement. “Bringing the feel-good content that Chicken Soup for the Soul is known for to Vizio audiences is another way that we can deliver on our promise to offer entertainment that viewers know and love.”

“We are excited to bring the Chicken Soup for the Soul AVOD service to millions of Vizio viewers,” Philippe Guelton, president of Crackle Plus, said in a statement. “We plan to provide a unique blend of entertainment from content and distribution partners who share our vision.”

The Chicken Soup for the Soul streaming service will provide entertainment stories that range from mysteries to miracles, comedy to true crime, the royal family to romcoms in the form of lifestyle programming, original scripted movies, Hollywood blockbusters and classic TV series, according to a Crackle Plus release.

Also now available on Chicken Soup for the Soul is programming from Kin, which has celebrity-driven lifestyle programming. It includes 18 exclusive episodes of “Tia Mowry’s Quick Fix,” and 12 episodes of “All Things Adrienne” (Adrienne Houghton) as well as other series with more fresh content arriving in the coming months.

Chicken Soup for the Soul originals and AVOD exclusives available at launch include:

  • “Smart Home Nation” (original), produced by Efran Films in association with Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment and Parkside Entertainment, and hosted by Tanya Memme, explores smart houses on planet Earth. From ‘A’-list mansions with security systems that can recognize your face from down the block to heated backyards that allow you to swim outside while it’s snowing, the series highlights experimental tech havens that would look right at home in “The Jetsons.”
  • Senior Moment (exclusive), a romantic comedy-drama film directed by Giorgio Serafini and starring William Shatner, Jean Smart and Christopher Lloyd. The film follows Victor Martin (Shatner), a retired NASA test pilot, after he loses his license from drag racing his vintage convertible around Palm Springs. Forced to take public transportation, he meets Caroline (Smart) and learns to navigate love and life again.
  • “Vacation Rental Potential” (original) follows designer and real estate expert Holly Baker as she explores beautiful vacation rental properties across the United States, helping clients maximize their earning potential.
  • Off the Rails (exclusive) is Kelly Preston’s final film, with Jenny Seagrove, Sally Philipps, Andrea Corr and Judi Dench about a group of 50-something women on a European vacation who have a change of itinerary when a teenager (Elizabeth Dormer-Phillips) joins their plans.
  • Hope Gap (exclusive), starring Annette Benning, Bill Nighy, and Josh O’Connor, follows two parents’ visit with their son that takes a dramatic turn when dad reveals he’s leaving his wife.
  • Thanks for the Memories (exclusive), a romantic comedy two-part limited series with Tamzin Merchant, Tom Wlaschiha, and Bekka Bowling, tells the tale of a woman (Merchant) who, after receiving a blood transfusion, finds she now has memories that aren’t her own.

 

“For years Chicken Soup for the Soul has been the go-to destination for those looking to find comfort, enlightenment, humor and inspiration,” Amy Newmark, author, editor-in-chief and publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul self-help book series, said in a statement. “With our new AVOD streaming service we are thrilled to now have a home for the exciting video content that we have been creating for years. We look forward to producing new series that will help us better serve our audience and change the world one story at a time.”

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The VOD app launch on Vizio follows Chicken Soup for the Soul’s recent FAST channel launches on Vizio’s free streaming service, WatchFree+, as well as Plex, FreeCast, Redbox, LG Channels, Stirr and Xumo.

Crackle Plus streaming services are currently distributed through 60 touch points in the United States, including Amazon FireTV, RokuTV, Apple TV, smart TVs (Samsung, LG, Vizio), gaming consoles (PS4 and XBoxOne), Plex, iOS and Android mobile devices, and on desktops at Crackle.com. Crackle is also available in approximately 500,000 hotel rooms in the Marriott Bonvoy chain.

‘Antiques Roadshow’ U.K. Channel Available on Samsung TV Plus in U.S.

A BBC “Antiques Roadshow” U.K. channel is now available in the United States on Samsung TV Plus, Samsung’s free, ad-supported streaming service, available on Samsung Smart TVs.

The series, in its 44th season, follows host Fiona Bruce and her team of antiquarian experts as they tour the United Kingdom’s most sumptuous and unusual locations to uncover artifacts, search for hidden treasures, and reveal the remarkable stories of unique and incredible items.

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The “Antiques Roadshow” U.K. channel, preloaded and accessible from the home screen, joins more than 200 premium channels already available on Samsung TV Plus across the United States on millions of Samsung Smart TVs and galaxy devices and on the Web.

Interpret: Disney+ Subs More Amenable to Ad-Supported Content

Disney+ subscribers are more amenable to ad-based content than the general population, according to Interpret data, making the company well-positioned as it plans to introduce a lower-priced, ad-supported subscription tier for its digital streaming video service.

Interpret’s VideoWatch data shows that 55% of Disney+ viewers are already consuming content on ad-supported services, compared with 44% of the general population.

“When Disney first entered the subscription OTT space, it redefined the benchmarks for success for a new streaming service,” Brett Sappington, VP at Interpret, said in a statement. “Prior to its entry, companies were pleased to exceed 1 or 2 million subscribers. When Disney was able to quickly capture millions of customers, they set a high bar for others to reach. The same could happen in the ad-supported streaming space as well. With its large current subscribership, a known content brand, and existing relationships with advertisers through its television business, Disney+ is well positioned for success with an ad-supported tier.”

FilmRise Picks Up Distribution Rights to Children’s Programming From WildBrain

FilmRise, the New York-based film and television studio and streaming network, has announced a partnership with WildBrain to distribute children’s programming.

The deal gives FilmRise non-exclusive North American English and Spanish-language distribution rights to more than 900 episodes across 10 children’s programs on AVOD and FAST platforms. 

Programs included in the deal are all four seasons of “Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego,” starring Academy Award-winner Rita Moreno as the voice of Carmen; both the classic and new adaptations of “Strawberry Shortcake,” including WildBrain’s new original series “Berry in the Big City”; the first four seasons and movie spinoffs of the animated sci-fi adventure “Slugterra”; “Kid vs. Kat”; “The L.A. Complex”; “Sabrina”; and “Super Mario.” 

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“As one of the world’s premiere children’s content creators and distributors, WildBrain has an incredible library of well-known productions and brands for younger audiences,” Danny Fisher, CEO of FilmRise, said in a statement. “We are fortunate to be partnering with them as we continue to expand our children and family programming offerings.”

“Partnering with FilmRise allows our popular properties to reach a larger and wider range of audiences,” Lara Ilie, VP of revenue share and transactional at WildBrain, said in a statement. “We are excited to share these lovable programs with more families.”