Pluto TV Inks Deal to Bring AVOD Platform to LG Smart TVs

ViacomCBS-owned AVOD service Pluto TV has inked a global distribution deal with LG Electronics to bring its platform to LG’s smart TVs.

Pluto TV is now available on LG 2020 smart TV models in the United States, with rollouts on 2016 to 2019 models to begin in fall 2020. Expansion plans to other regions will be announced at a later date. Pluto TV currently has a global footprint spanning 22 countries.

Pluto TV content is featured via LG’s proprietary LG Channels feature offering access to more than 200 free streaming channels. Once fully integrated later this year, more than 99 Pluto TV channels will be available on LG smart TVs, according to the service.

“We’re thrilled to be able to bring Pluto TV and our leadership in free, ad-supported streaming television to LG’s lineup of critically-acclaimed smart TVs,” Brendon Thomas, VP of distribution for Pluto TV, said in a statement. “Through this partnership, we are excited to have another opportunity to accelerate our mission to entertain the planet by bringing an unparalleled lineup of programming, with instant discoverability through the LG Channels experience, to millions of LG users, for free.”

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“In the highly unusual times we are living in, people are turning to home entertainment in even larger numbers than ever before,” Matt Durgin, director of North America partnerships at LG Electronics, said in a statement. “With the debut of Pluto TV on LG smart TVs, our customers now have access to an even more expansive and diverse roster of free streaming content that will keep everyone entertained and engaged at home.”

Pluto TV delivers 100,000-plus hours of free content to an audience of more than 24 million monthly active users in the U.S. alone, according to the service. It includes hundreds of channels and tens of thousands of titles on demand featuring content from more than 200 major media partners.

Movies Anywhere App Available on LG Smart TVs

The Movies Anywhere app is now available on LG smart TVs, including LG OLED TVs, LG Electronics USA and Movies Anywhere announced.

Movies Anywhere lets users enjoy their purchased or redeemed digital movies combined in one personal collection. The service includes more than 7,900 titles.

LG is the first TV manufacturer to offer the streaming app.

With the Movies Anywhere app, in addition to streaming movies on LG smart TVs, users can also stream or download on LG smartphones, joining a wide array of other devices.

Additionally, with Screen Pass beta, Movies Anywhere is set to allow users to share their movies with others in a seamless way.

Movies Anywhere offers movies from Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures (including DreamWorks and Illumination Entertainment), The Walt Disney Studios (including Disney, Pixar, Twentieth Century Studios, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm) and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

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The app enables consumers to sync digital retail accounts, including Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu/Walmart, Xfinity, Google Play/YouTube, Microsoft Movies & TV, FandangoNow and Verizon Fios TV.

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LG OLED TVs include support for Dolby Vision IQ high dynamic range, Dolby Atmos, and the UHD Alliance’s Filmmaker Mode. With the webOS smart TV platform, the new LG OLED and LG NanoCell 4K and 8K UHD TVs provide access to apps and services such as Apple TV, Disney+, Netflix and LG Channels in addition to Movies Anywhere.

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group CES 2020 Event

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group held its annual CES party for home entertainment executives at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas on Jan. 7. The event drew a wide range of guests, including home video presidents from the major studios and leading consumer electronics executives such as John Taylor of LG Electronics.

CES 2020 Opens With Spotlight on Innovation

LAS VEGAS — CES 2020 opened Jan.7 with innovation and concepts once again overshadowing the show’s legacy consumer electronics.

This year’s CES features more than 4,400 exhibiting companies, including 1,200 startups.

A press release from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which produces the annual event, touts the show’s focus on “the latest transformative technologies, including 5G, artificial intelligence, vehicle technology, digital health and more.”

CES 2020 runs through Jan. 10.

“The innovation on display this week at CES embodies the drive and passion that fuels our industry and furthers economic growth on a global scale,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA, in a statement. “The products and technologies launching this week will inspire, connect and change lives for the better.”

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Prior to the CES exhibit show floor opening, there were a number of pre-show events Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, including Media Days, CTA’s 2020 Tech Trends to Watch presentation, CES Unveiled Las Vegas, conference programming at the ARIA and keynotes from Samsung and Daimler.

Samsung Consumer Electronics President and CEO H.S. Kim, delivering the first CES 2020 keynote, focused on the “Age of Experience,” a decade of human-centric innovation that combines hardware and software to create personalized experiences to make life more convenient, enjoyable and meaningful. His talk highlighted the company’s latest advances in intelligent robotics, AI, 5G and edge computing. “In the Age of Experience, we need to re-think the space we have to accommodate our diverse and evolving lifestyles,” said Kim.

CTA’s Steve Koenig and Lesley Rohrbaugh presented 2020 Tech Trends to Watch on Jan. 5 and provided some sales projections. The soaring popularity of streaming services along with 5G connectivity and artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled devices will drive revenue growth for the U.S. consumer tech industry to a record $422 billion in retail revenues in 2020 — nearly 4% growth over last year, according to CTA estimates.

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Also on Jan. 5, the annual CES Unveiled events featured more than 220 exhibiting companies, including 98 startups from Eureka Park, the startup hub at CES 2020.

CES Media Days featured two days of preshow press events from CES exhibitors, including major brands and emerging startups. Twenty-nine companies announced products, including several that showed off home entertainment-related products.

  • HDMI announced its Ultra High Speed HDMI certification program that assures support for all HDMI 2.1 features, including 8K.
  • Hisense talked up a dual-cell XD9G LCD TV that layers two liquid crystal modules,  one on top of the other, inside a single cabinet.
  • LG Electronics unveiled new OLED (LG Signature OLED 8K) and LCD (LG 8K NanoCell) TV models.
  • Panasonic previewed  its flagship HZ2000 OLED TV with support for the UHD Alliance’s Filmmaker Mode.
  • And the UHD Alliance announced two additional television partners for its Filmmaker Mode initiative, Samsung and Phillips, along with further support from Hollywood guilds and others (see related story).

LG Touts Filmmaker Mode at CES

LG Electronics touted support for the UHD Alliance’s Filmmaker Mode Jan. 6 at CES with video testimonials by directors Chris Nolan and Christopher McQuarrie hailing the feature that brings the home viewing experience closer to the filmmakers’ intention.

“We’re proud to be among the first to embrace the UHD Alliance’s new Filmmaker Mode,” said Tim Alessi, senior director of product marketing at LG Electronics.

Current TVs use advanced video processing capabilities to offer consumers a broad range of options in viewing various types of content, ranging from sports to video games. Filmmaker Mode 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.

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LG also showed a 65-inch, 20mm thick TV; its rollup OLED TV, which Alessi said would be introduced this year; and support for DolbyVision IQ.

In addition, the electronics company touted Nvidia G-Sync-compatible TVs that can play games in 4K with up to 120 Hz. Alessi noted that game playing capability on TVs is increasingly important to consumers.

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LG to Bow Expanded 8K TV Lineup at CES

LG Electronics will introduce its expanded 8K TV lineup next week at CES 2020 — eight TVs with new 77- and 65-inch class models joining LG’s existing 88- and 75-inch screen sizes.

The 2020 lineup includes premium 88- and 77-inch class LG Signature OLED 8K TVs (models 88/77 OLED ZX) and advanced LG NanoCell TVs (models 75/65 Nano99, 75/65 Nano97, 75/65 Nano95). Every model exceeds the industry’s official new 8K Ultra HD definition set by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), according to LG.

LG 8K TVs deliver “Real 8K,” according to the company, and they are future-proofed, supporting the widest selection of 8K content sources from HDMI and USB digital inputs, including codecs such as HEVC, VP9 and AV1, the latter being backed by major streaming providers including YouTube. LG’s 8K TVs will support 8K content streaming at a rapid 60FPS and are certified to deliver 8K 60P over HDMI.

LG’s latest 8K TVs also feature α (Alpha) 9 Gen 3 AI Processor. By leveraging deep learning technology, the 2020 lineup delivers optimized picture and sound quality for all types of content through AI-based 8K upscaling. Based on an intelligent deep learning network, AI 8K Upscaling delivers vivid and accurate 8K images by analyzing the content and applying Quad Step Noise Reduction and frequency-based Sharpness Enhancer to increase lower resolution content to near 8K, according to LG.

The α9 Gen 3 processor’s AI Picture Pro is capable of recognizing faces and text on screen, fine-tuning and sharpening each to produce more natural skin tones, well-defined facial features and clearer, more readable characters, according to LG. In addition, its Auto Genre Selection recognizes the type of content being watched and automatically applies the ideal picture settings, guaranteeing the best image quality among four genres: movie, sports, standard and animation.

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LG’s AI Sound Pro analyzes and classifies the audio of content among five categories — music, movies, sports, drama or news — for clearer voices and richer, more textured background sound. Spoken words are isolated and their volume increased, making it distinctively easier for viewers to understand while background noises are identified and the scene up-mixed to virtual 5.1 surround for a heightened level of viewer immersion.

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LG 8K TVs offer a new level of convenience made possible by AI technology, according to LG. Users can monitor and control compatible IoT devices directly from the TV’s Home Dashboard, while Hands-Free Voice Control allows viewers to easily control multiple connected devices with just their voice, even from across the room. Available in 144 countries, ThinQ voice recognition is built into every LG 8K TV. And with LG’s popular smart TV platform, webOS, the new TVs support Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit as well as both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, with Amazon Alexa Premium Far-Field Voice compatibility in the future.

Xumo AVOD Service Coming to Sony and Panasonic Smart TVs

AVOD service Xumo will add Sony and Panasonic smart TVs to its existing distribution network with LG in 2020.

Both Sony and Panasonic smart TVs will have integration of Xumo’s free streaming service delivering both over-the-air and over-the-top channels to global audiences. End users press the channel up and down or guide button on the TV remote control to watch Xumo channels.

“As the leading free OTT service in the U.S., Xumo is eager to join forces and work toward providing audiences their favorite streaming or local, over-the-air channels through one intuitive TV experience,” said Xumo CEO Colin Petrie-Norris in a statement. “It remains our mission to work with global TV manufacturers, content and advertiser partners to deliver a quality experience for end users; one that can easily become a daily routine.”

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“As a creative entertainment company with a solid foundation of technology, Sony is pleased to partner with Xumo to bring this streaming experience direct to consumers in a truly seamless manner by allowing viewers to access a variety of free channels on our Bravia TVs,” said Nick Colsey, VP, business development, Sony Electronics, in a statement.

“Xumo delivers a best-in-class experience for streaming channels,” said Yasunari Anan, director of Panasonic’s Smart Life Network business division in a statement. “We are happy to partner with them to provide more choice of viewing content for our discerning viewers.”

The expansion comes on the heels of the launch of Xumo-powered channels on LG smart TVs in the United States. LG now offers 190-plus channels to U.S. audiences across 12 programming genres and thousands of free movie titles, according to Xumo.

“Our success in the U.S. has proven that free streaming TV is on the rise and, with the right global partner, we will continue to ensure viewers are delivered an optimized, enjoyable entertainment experience,” said Sangwoo Lee, SVP of home entertainment content  and service business division at LG Electronics.

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Xumo is available in 45 million U.S. households via a multi-screen distribution network of smart TVs, mobile, web and streaming boxes, delivering digital channels through content partnerships with media providers such as ABC News Live, PeopleTV, NBC News, Food52, and HISTORY, as well PGA TOUR, and many others.

AVOD Service Xumo Renews Deal With LG

AVOD service Xumo has renewed its relationship with LG Electronics to continue powering the Channel Plus service for LG smart TVs.

Currently available in 45 million U.S. households, the service has been rebranded LG Channels for 2019 LG webOS smart TVs in the United States, Canada and internationally. LG Channels, powered by Xumo, has also rolled out in seven additional countries — France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Brazil, and most recently, Mexico.

For the past three years, Xumo has powered LG Electronics’ premium Channel Plus service, available within the traditional programming guide of LG smart TVs that gives viewers access to more than 180 free, curated channels across 12 programming genres from broadcast TV to streaming channels and thousands of free movie titles. Total hours streamed continues to increase by a minimum of 10% month over month, according to Xumo.

“Our initial and ongoing partnership with LG has laid the groundwork for Xumo to deliver what has become the next generation of television programming,” noted Xumo CEO Colin Petrie-Norris in a statement. “We’re thrilled to continue powering a wealth of streaming content to not only existing Channel Plus viewers in the U.S. and Canada, but to consumers the world over who demand wide choice and premium, live and on-demand streaming entertainment.”

LG Channels has launched for free internationally with 50-plus of Xumo’s top digital channels, such as Eleven Sports, eSports Revolution, FailArmy, Football Daily, Motorvision, NowThis, Stingray Ambiance and This Old House, with more to be launched each subsequent month, according to Xumo. Localized streaming channels will also be added to the lineup for each specific country as the service expands.

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Channel Plus is available on webOS-enabled 2012-2018 LG smart TVs and is also now available on 2019 LG smart TVs as LG Channels. The full channel lineup can be viewed here.

Xumo offers more than 180 digital channels of free premium programming across 12 genres, including sports, news, kids and family entertainment, live events, comedy, lifestyle and movies. The ad-supported service is available in 45 million U.S. households via a multi-screen distribution network of smart TVs, mobile, web and streaming boxes. Xumo delivers its over-the-top video-on-demand and live linear digital channels through content partnerships with media providers such as CBSN, PeopleTV, NBC News, Food52 and HISTORY, as well PGA TOUR and many others.

LG Bowing ‘Native Ad’ Technology for Connected TVs

LG Electronics Sept. 10 announced it is partnering with Tremor Video to bow so-called “native advertising” on select Internet-connected televisions.

Tremor Video provides entertainment advertisers and apps with ad placements that are native to the smart TV experience across millions of connected TV devices — helping them to stand out with content discoverability.

The ad units run in a “highly visible position” on the LG smart TV’s home screen — helping to drive viewers to an app or drive tune — in campaigns for specific TV shows and movies.

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Matthew Durgin, head of content innovation at LG Electronics USA, said collaboration with Tremor Video “helps advertisers make their brand messages stand out in a crowded landscape,” adding, “This exemplifies how LG smart TVs provide added value to advertisers and viewers alike.”

These promotional placements can support the overall subscriber growth to streaming services and apps supported on LG smart TVs.

“Partnering with LG provides advertisers with a turnkey, cost-effective way to entice viewers with their brand messages before they enter another streaming service,” said Jay Baum, Tremor Video’s chief commercial officer.

Comcast’s Xfinity Streaming App Embedded on LG Smart TVs

Comcast and LG Electronics Sept. 5 announced the launch of the Xfinity Stream beta app for 2019, 2018, and 2017 LG Smart TVs.

Xfinity Stream gives subscribers the ability to access the live, on-demand, and cloud DVR programming on LG 4K Ultra HD Smart TVs — LG OLED and LG NanoCell TVs — and HD Smart TVs, without the need for a traditional set-top box.

With Xfinity Stream on LG 4K Ultra HD and Standard HD Smart TVs, Xfinity TV subs can browse the Emmy Award-winning X1 guide, featuring rich and immersive graphics and imagery.

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Other features include quick access to their most recently watched programming; parental controls; TV shows, movies, sports, kids, and the ability to access and scroll through the guide on the same screen while watching live programming.

LG is a member of the Xfinity TV Partner Program, launched to expand the range of retail devices Xfinity TV customers can use to access the programming that is included with their subscription on the television in the home.

All content within Xfinity Stream for participating partner program devices is delivered over Comcast’s secure private managed network, enabling customers to access and enjoy their cable service on devices like LG Smart TVs, without the need to lease a traditional set-top box from Comcast.

The 2019 LG OLED TV lineup features screen sizes ranging from 55 to 77-inch class options.