Crackle Plus Launching AVOD App on Smart TVs

Crackle Plus, an advertising-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) service, Feb. 10 announced an agreement to launch its app on Smart TVs with the VIDAA smart operation system, including Hisense Smart TVs.

At launch, Crackle content on VIDAA will be available to their customers in the U.S. using their proprietary operating system. VIDAA customers will gain access to Crackle’s library of studio film titles and classic TV series as well as a growing list of original and exclusive programming, including “Breaking Beauty,” “Lennox Lewis: The Untold Story,” “Robert the Bruce,” “Spides,” “Corporate Animals,” “Blue Iguana,” “Anything is Possible: The Serge Ibaka Story,” “Road to Race Day,” “On Point,” “Cleanin’ Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters,” “The Clearing,” “Insomnia,” “Yelawolf: A Slumerican Life,” and “Going From Broke,” recently picked up for a second season.

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VIDAA’s system gives users access to dozens of third-party streaming apps delivering entertainment as either video-on-demand or linear feeds. The VIDAA Smart TV platform was launched by Hisense in 2014,  amassing more than 20 million global installs since that time.

“Crackle is excited to partner with VIDAA and to offer free access to our growing library of originals and exclusives, as well as our expanding library of studio films, docu-series, sports content, and classic TV shows,” Philippe Guelton, president of Crackle Plus, said in a statement.

Crackle linear and VOD networks are available in the U.S. and can be accessed on 29 devices and services 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. 

UHD Alliance Announces Amazon Prime, Hisense Support for Filmmaker Mode

The UHD Alliance on Sept. 30 announced that Amazon Prime will begin supporting Filmmaker Mode next year and that Hisense has joined consumer electronics companies Panasonic, Vizio, Samsung, LG, Kaleidescape and Philips in supporting the feature.

The announcements came during an online presentation with DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

Filmmaker Mode, introduced by the UHD Alliance in August 2019, is designed to reproduce the content in the way the creator intended. It allows viewers to enjoy a more cinematic experience on their UHD TVs when watching movies by disabling all post-processing (e.g. motion smoothing, etc.) so the movie or television show is displayed as it was intended by the filmmaker, preserving the correct aspect ratios, colors and frame rates, according to the Alliance.

“Prime Video will be launching this feature on select players next year,” said UHD Alliance chairman Mike Zink. “It’s something that we’ve been working very hard on, and I think we are very, very excited for this to come to life.”

UHD Alliance president Mike fiddler noted that CE companies supporting Filmmaker Mode represent a big chunk of TV unit shipments both domestically and globally.

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Zink interviewed colorist Jill Bogdanowicz and Stephen Lighthill, president, the American Society of Cinematographers, about the importance of maintaining the intention of creators in content viewed in the home.

“Anyone that does not look at the way the image is going into the home is foolish,” noted Lighthill, adding “producers want to make sure it’s going to look the same in Jill’s suite as it does at home.”

CE company executives also joined the discussion to describe and express their support for Filmmaker Mode.

LG Electronics’ Tim Alessi said the company was putting Filmmaker Mode in every new UHD model produced in 2020.

“We kinda went all in on Filmmaker Mode,” he said, noting, “what really sets this whole effort apart is we got the entire industry to rally around one name and one set of features.”

LG is mounting an in-store display at Best Buy describing the advantages of the feature.

Samsung’s Bill Mandel said the manufacturer put the Mode in all its 2020 UHD TVs, and about a month ago launched new projectors with the feature. Samsung is running an in-store video loop about it on its TVs, he noted.

Hisense Picks Aria Systems for OTT Video, Transactional VOD Billing

Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer Hisense has inked an agreement with Aria Systems for third-party billing for its VIDAA International streaming video platform. VIDAA is an open format Smart TV operating system, currently used on Hisense TVs.

Hisense is one of the manufacturers of Roku-branded televisions.

San Francisco-based Aria Systems platform aims to improve the management of VIDAA subscription accounts internationally and help generate recurring revenue across multiple geographies, currencies and languages, all while maintaining compliance with local privacy and data protection laws.

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Aria will also enable the company to begin monetizing the millions of latent customer accounts already registered in its database by offering new premium content via subscription and on demand.

“With the global surge in consumer demand for streaming services and smart devices, the presence of an agile billing and subscriber management platform becomes a key competitive differentiator for service providers,” Tom Dibble, CEO, Aria Systems, said in a statement.

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Haystack TV Inks Partnership With China’s Hisense

Who said TV news is dead?

Haystack TV, an ad-supported streaming service that connects viewers with local, national and global TV news, is expanding its global distribution through a new agreement with Chinese television and appliance manufacturer Hisense.

Tailored to each viewer, Haystack TV software delivers a mix of the day’s top headlines and other news tuned to viewers’ specific interests and preferred news sources from its library of more than 250 premium news sources covering 85% of local U.S. markets.

Hisense, currently the third-largest television manufacturer (including Roku TVs), will pre-install the Haystack TV app on the new VIDAA platform. Plans for the newly redesigned VIDAA interface were recently announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Vidaa U 2.5 is the proprietary Smart TV operating system from Hisense, which also features a mobile app for Android and iOS devices, that reportedly operates as a virtual on-screen remote control, among other functions.

“Bringing the best free content to our customers locally in every market and globally is Vidaa’s global strategy,” Guy Edri, EVP of business development for Hisense’s Vidaa platform, said in a statement.

“Haystack TV’s partnership with Hisense will help fuel our rapid growth for 2020 and beyond,” said Haystack TV CEO and co-founder Daniel Barreto.

Haystack TV is available for free on the Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, and Roku streaming platforms; LG, Samsung and Vizio Smart TVs; Android and iOS mobile devices; and online at Haystack.tv.

 

Pluto TV Joins New Hisense Vidaa Platform

Pluto TV, a ViacomCBS unit, Feb. 6 announced a multiyear global pact bringing its ad-supported service of more than 250 live, linear, thematically-curated and branded partner channels onto Hisense’s new Vidaa platform across the United States, Europe and Latin America.

Beginning in the spring, Pluto TV will be integrated into the Vidaa platform, with all new Hisense TVs being sold in the U.S. and Mexico featuring a branded Pluto TV button.

This button is a one-click solution that drops users directly into the Pluto TV service on Vidaa offering direct access to TV series, movies, sports, news, lifestyle, science and tech and music videos — for free.

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“Partnering with Hisense and Vidaa aligns perfectly with our goals, accelerating our mission to entertain the planet,” Brendon Thomas, VP of distribution at Pluto TV, said in a statement.

Currently, Pluto TV streams entertainment to more than 20 million monthly users, across over 30 devices, including mobile, Web, CTV, gaming consoles and set-top boxes in the U.S.

Pluto TV is set to launch in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Latin America in March. Pluto TV LATAM on Hisense Vidaa will also launch across 17 countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Paraguay, El Salvador, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The installation across the EU will happen later in 2020.

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“Our key goal is to provide the best free content locally in every market on our Vidaa platform. Partnering with Pluto TV is perfect match,” said Guy Edri, EVP of business development for Hisense’s Vidaa platform. “Adding dedicated button on our Hisense TVs with Vidaa platform is another step that users can access to Pluto TV with just one click.”

The newest range of Hisense’s ULED TVs with the Vidaa platform combines Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos with picture technologies that aim to deliver a cinema-like viewing experience.

 

Tubi to Launch in Mexico With TV Azteca

Ad-supported VOD service Tubi Jan. 21 announced it will expand its service into Mexico later this year in collaboration with TV Azteca, one of the largest producers of Spanish-language television programming in the world. As part of the deal, TV Azteca will offer advertising sales for Tubi in Mexico and promote the service to its audience via online and other platforms.

In addition, some of TV Azteca’s titles will be made available to Tubi viewers in Mexico, including “Exatlón Mexico,” “MasterChef,” and “Lo que La Gente Cuente,” among others.

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Separately, Tubi is partnering with Chinese TV manufacturer Hisense  and its Vidaa platform to be the exclusive connected TV partner in Mexico. As part of its partnership, Tubi will be pre-loaded and placed on the Vidaa TV homepage with content also listed in the “Vidaa Free” section of the platform — as well as their dedicated “free content” button found on their remotes. Tubi will also be supported in-store with retail promotion this year.

“We’re thrilled to collaborate with a world-class partner and, together with TV Azteca, launch a new free streaming home to some of Mexico’s most celebrated television franchises,” Tubi CEO Farhad Massoudi said in a statement. “Our expansion into Latin America is just beginning and we look forward to announcing additional territories in the future.”

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“As part of TV Azteca’s transformation towards the future, we are looking forward to enhancing our distribution and make the best television productions available to a broader audience via Tubi,” said Alberto Ciurana, chief content & distribution officer for TV Azteca.

“Providing users with access to the best free content locally in every market and from all over the world is one of the key goals of our platform, and Tubi is a great partner for this,” said Guy Edri, EVP of business development for Hisense’s Vidaa platform.

In September 2019, Tubi announced viewers streamed more than 132 million hours of content — a 40% increase since May — and the service will launch in the U.K. in 2020. In addition to Hisense televisions, Tubi is available on Android and iOS mobile devices, Amazon Echo Show, Google Nest Hub Max, Comcast Xfinity X1, Cox Contour, and on OTT devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Vizio TVs, Sony TVs, Samsung TVs, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Consumers can also watch Tubi content on the Web at www.tubi.tv.

Tubi Service Coming to Hisense’s Vidaa Platform

AVOD service Tubi has entered into a deal with Vidaa International, a subsidiary of TV manufacturer Hisense, to offer its library of more than 20,000 movies and TV shows on Hisense’s new Vidaa platform.

Beginning in spring 2020, Tubi customers in the United States, Canada and Australia, as well as the United Kingdom — where Tubi will launch later this year — will have access to the Tubi library of content on the new platform. The new Hisense TVs powered by Vidaa will have Tubi preloaded and prominently placed on its home screen.

“We’re excited to expand Tubi’s device footprint to include Hisense televisions with the new Vidaa platform, continuing our mission to make entertainment more accessible to everyone,” said Michael Ahiakpor, chief product officer at Tubi, in a statement. “Hisense has been a global leader in consumer electronics and is a perfect partner as we ramp up our international expansion in 2020.”

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In September 2019, Tubi announced customers had streamed more than 132 million hours of content — a 40% increase since May — and the service will launch in the United Kingdom in 2020. In addition to Hisense televisions, Tubi is available on Android and iOS mobile devices, Amazon Echo Show, Comcast Xfinity X1, Cox Contour, and on OTT devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Sony TVs, Samsung TVs, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Consumers can also watch Tubi content on the web at www.tubi.tv.

The newest range of Hisense’s ULED TVs with the Vidaa platform includes Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos. The next generation of Hisense ULED TVs features its proprietary smart TV Operating System (OS), Vidaa U4.

Roku Announces TV Brand Expansion, ‘Roku TV Ready’ Program

Roku announced that 15 TV brands will launch Roku TV models in Canada, Mexico, the United States and the United Kingdom in 2020.

Roku TV brands in 2020 include ATVIO, Element, Hisense, Hitachi, InFocus, JVC, Magnavox, onn., Philips, Polaroid, RCA, Sanyo, TCL and Westinghouse.

In Mexico, new partner brands InFocus, Polaroid and Walmart’s ATVIO will sell Roku TV models, while existing partner brand Westinghouse and others will extend their Roku TV offerings to Mexico. In addition, TCL and Hisense will expand their Roku TV offerings with new Roku TV models launching later in the year.

“2019 was a tremendous year for Roku TV, with more brands, retailers and consumers choosing the platform than ever before,” said Mustafa Ozgen, SVP and GM of account acquisition at Roku in a statement. “We believe that Roku TV represented more than one in three smart TVs sold in the U.S. during the first nine months of 2019, and the number of our licensees keeps growing.”

Roku also announced “Roku TV Ready,” a new program that allows consumer electronics companies to partner with Roku to help their products work seamlessly with Roku TV. The first partners under the program are TCL North America and Sound United, parent company to Denon, Polk Audio, Marantz, Definitive Technology and Classé, which will feature Roku TV Ready products for select brands later this year. Products under the program will display a Roku TV Ready badge on marketing materials to identify that they have been tested and certified to work with the Roku TV. Consumer electronics companies can add Roku TV Ready functionality at no additional cost to their products, according to Roku.

“Our goal is to make the TV experience incredibly simple, accessible and fun. Roku devices continue to delight millions of consumers for these reasons. And now with this new program we hope to make it super easy to setup and control soundbars and audio/video receivers using just a Roku TV remote,” said Mark Ely, VP, retail product strategy at Roku in a statement. “Meanwhile, consumer electronics brands benefit by offering their products in a more appealing way to our large and engaged audience of millions of active accounts.”

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“Denon is consistently at the forefront of technology trends and services. Our joining the Roku TV Ready program demonstrates a continued dedication to this ethos while offering consumers an incredible value, endless entertainment and new features delivered over time,” said Brendon Stead, SVP, product development at Sound United, parent company to Denon, in a statement. “The Roku TV Ready program enables Denon users to easily access Denon product features via the Roku TV Remote, among other features. In the name of seamless entertainment, this is a boon for watchers everywhere.”

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“TCL and Roku have been working to deliver incredible home entertainment innovation to consumers for many years and we’re thrilled to be extending our partnership to home audio compatibility,” said Chris Larson, SVP, TCL, in a statement. “As America’s fastest-growing TV brand, we’re focused on providing a first-class home theater experience and a big part of that is ensuring consumers know their TCL television will work well with other products throughout the home.”