Vizio Adds Disney+ to SmartCast Smart TV Platform

Vizio has launched Disney+ on its SmartCast smart TV platform.

While Vizio users have been able to stream Disney+ on SmartCast through Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast built-in, the update allows viewers to launch the app and search for Disney+ content directly from the SmartCast home screen.

Disney+, which offers movies and TV shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, in addition to exclusive Disney+ originals, costs $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year.

The Disney+ app is available on the SmartCast platform in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Users in these locations can find and subscribe through the apps row on SmartCast Home or through the SmartCast Mobile app.

“At Vizio, we are always working to provide the best home entertainment experience for our users,” said Vizio chief technology officer Bill Baxter in a statement. “We are excited to bring Disney+ onto the SmartCast platform to give viewers access to even more content to enjoy.”

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SmartCast allows users search for content using their voice via compatibility with Siri, the Google Assistant and Alexa-enabled devices. It also includes Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit, along with Chromecast built-in, so users can stream, control and share shows, movies and content.

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SmartCast also includes WatchFree, a free-to-use streaming service, with no login or subscriptions required. New to WatchFree is the ability to designate specific channels as “Favorites” and navigate by genre. WatchFree, powered by Pluto, offers access to more than 150 channels with news, sports, movies, TV shows, and music that the whole family can enjoy.

New SmartCast apps are available on Vizio SmartCast TVs dating back to 2016.

 

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.

 

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.

Vizio Rolling Out Chromecast Update to Access Disney+ on Smart TVs

Vizio will roll out a Chromecast built-in update that will allow users to cast Disney+ content to their Vizio SmartCast TVs.

The update will start rolling out in early December.

Owners can already watch content from the Disney+ app using Apple AirPlay 2 by tapping the AirPlay icon and selecting their SmartCastTV when in the app.

Vizio can roll out updates to models dating back to 2016.

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“We want consumers to know that when they purchase a Vizio TV, it will keep its value for years to come,” said Bill Baxter, Vizio chief technology officer, in a statement. “Our team is continually improving SmartCast to ensure users have the best home entertainment experience with more ways to enjoy their favorite content.”

VIZIO SmartCast TVs users can also view apps such as Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu and YouTube directly from the SmartCast Home screen.

Older Samsung Smart TVs to Lose Netflix

Older Samsung Smart TVs will be losing access to Netflix beginning Dec. 1 “due to technical limitations,” according to Samsung.

The affected TVs are 2010 and 2011 models with ‘C’ or ‘D’ after the screen size in the model code.

“If you have one of the affected models, you may see a message on your TV indicating that Netflix will no longer be available on this device,” read a Samsung statement. “You’ll still be able to watch Netflix on your TV by connecting another device with Netflix on it.”

Netflix compatible devices are listed here.

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Report: U.S. Households With at Least One Internet-Connected TV Device Remains Unchanged

About 74% of U.S. TV households have at least one Internet-connected TV device, including smart TVs, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Apple TV, connected video game systems or Blu-ray Disc player, according to new data from Leichtman Research Group.

Household penetration is similar to last year, and up from 69% in 2017, 50% in 2014, and 24% in 2010.

Overall, 31% of adults in U.S. TV households watch video on a TV via a connected device daily – compared to 25% in 2017, 11% in 2014, and 1% in 2010.

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Leichtman found that younger individuals are most likely to use connected TV devices.  Among adults ages 18-34, 53% watch video on a TV via a connected device daily, compared to 31% of ages 35-54, and 12% of ages 55+.

The findings are based on a survey of 1,150 TV households throughout the U.S.

Other findings include:

  • 25% of adults with a pay-TV service watch video via a connected TV device daily – compared to 49% of pay-TV non-subscribers
  • 49% of TV households have at least one stand-alone streaming device – up from 40% in 2017, and 17% in 2014
  • 18% of adults watch video on a TV via a stand-alone device daily – compared to 12% in 2017, and 4% in 2014
  • 14% of adults watch Internet-delivered video via a connected Smart TV daily – compared to 10% in 2017, and 4% in 2014
  • 32% of all TVs in U.S. households are connected Smart TVs – an increase from 24% in 2017, and 7% in 2014
  • 22% with annual household incomes >$50,000 have a 4K HDTV – compared to 9% with annual household incomes <$50,000
  • 34% of those that got a new TV in the past year have a 4K HDTV

“About three-quarters of all TV households in the U.S. now have at least one connected TV device, with a mean of 3.9 devices per connected TV household,” analyst Bruce Leichtmansaid in a statement. “Over half of all adults watch video via a connected TV device at least weekly, an increase from one-quarter of adults five years ago, and nearly one-third of adults now use these devices daily.”

 

 

Report: Entertainment Voice Control Appeals to Half of U.S. Broadband Households

Close to half (43%) of U.S. broadband households that own or plan to purchase a smart TV or streaming media player consider voice control to be an important feature for their next purchase, according to new research from Parks Associates.

Meanwhile, more than half (55%) of U.S. broadband households find voice control of connected entertainment devices appealing.

The industry report The Impact of AI on Consumer Entertainment examines the impact of artificial intelligence on the entertainment industry and the future role of AI in user experience, service delivery, content creation and monetization of video services.

“Artificial intelligence is used across the connected entertainment value chain by leading companies to gain cost advantages, increase speed to market, and strengthen customer loyalty,” said Craig Leslie, senior research analyst, Parks Associates, in a statement. “Consumers expect new connected entertainment products and services to offer voice as a control and search option; AI solutions will help companies remain competitive in the future.”

The report also addresses the impact of AI on data, as AI requires monitoring large quantities of personal data and creates concerns for consumers about security and privacy.

“Seventy-five percent of U.S. broadband households want tight control over their personal data, and over half are concerned about unauthorized users gaining control of their data,” Leslie said in a statement. “Less than one-third of consumers trust their providers to adequately safeguard their data, so providers need to deliver a promise of strong data security with granular control of what is shared and with whom, to encourage consumer participation and willingness to share data.”

Additional research from the report found:

  • In early 2018, the average broadband home hosted 10.4 connected devices, of which 8.6 are connected CE devices;
  • 49% of U.S. broadband households find that a website/app that allows you to delete collected data would increase their confidence in use of an online service; and
  • Netflix credits its recommender system for influencing 80% of hours streamed, with the remaining 20% coming from search.

Global Smart TV Market Projected to Grow 7.4% Per Year Through 2023

The global smart TV market is projected to grow an average of 7.4% per year through 2023, according to research from Azoth Analytics.

The report, “Global Smart TV Market – Analysis By Screen Type, Screen Resolution, Screen Size, By Region, By Country (2018 Edition): Opportunities and Forecast (2013- 2023),” attributes flat-screen smart TV segment growth over the past few years and in the forecast period to consumers upgrading sets to watch popular sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics, wider adoption of flexible OLED displays, and rising consumer spending on smart appliances in general.

Through 2023, the demand of 4K and 8K smart TV screen resolution is further expected to grow due the increasing popularity of ultra high-definition and lower smart TV prices, combined with higher demand for replacement TVs, effective advertising and an increase in consumer preferences for online content.

North America accounted for the largest regional share in the global Smart TV market in 2018.

The full report is available at www.reportlinker.com/p05687248.

Vizio Adds Features to Smart TV Experience

Vizio announced the rollout of new features to its smart TV experience, SmartCast Home, adding such entertainment apps as CBS All Access and allowing users to personalize their SmartCast Home experience via the app sorting feature.

The latest iteration of SmartCast Home is rolling out via free cloud-based updates to Vizio SmartCast 4K Ultra HD TVs and displays, as well as select HD and Full HD models.

“Vizio continues to fulfill consumer demands by way of free, rolling cloud-based updates that enable new, intuitive smart TV features via Vizio SmartCast,” said Vizio chief technology officer Bill Baxter in a statement. “With versatility, simplicity and value in mind, Vizio SmartCast is an ever-evolving entertainment solution. Everyday users, cord-cutters and smart home enthusiasts alike are able to continuously receive new features, the latest apps and other beneficial enhancements that help ensure they are getting the most out of their viewing experience.”

With the update, Vizio SmartCast Home users can sort and position their favorite and most frequented apps on the home screen. To change the order of apps within the app row at the bottom of the SmartCast Home screen, users scroll to the end of the app row and select the “Sort App Row” icon. From there, they will be prompted with on-screen cues that guide them through the process of highlighting and selecting various apps to customize their position.

New to Vizio SmartCast Home is the CBS All Access app, offering such programs as “NCIS,” “The Young and the Restless” and “Madam Secretary”; exclusive original series such as “Star Trek: Discovery” and “The Good Fight”; and streaming of local live broadcasts. YouTube TV — which allows SmartCast users to watch and record live TV from more than 60 networks — Baeble and Toon Goggles, among other apps, have also been added to the SmartCast lineup.

With the latest updates, the Vizio WatchFree free streaming service is now also included in the App Row.

SmartCast also now offers dedicated TV and Movie Detail pages highlighting the selected title’s trailer and synopsis, along with cast and director credits, running time, parental ratings, critic insights and more. The TV and Movie Detail pages will also soon allow users to browse seasons and episodes across multiple apps such as FandangoNow and Hulu, and then view on their app of choice.

ComScore Adds Smart TV Data With Inscape Partnership

ComScore has partnered with Inscape to offer opt-in smart TV viewing data to its measurement products in order to help brands better understand the impact of their advertising.

The company says the partnership will bolster ad effectiveness studies designed to help clients understand the extent to which their campaigns met ROI objectives, including purchase-behavior and tune-in, according to a comScore press release.

“Media fragmentation continues to be a challenge for marketers who are seeking ways to optimize their media investment against the activities and channels that drive the most business impact,” said Cathy Hetzel, EVP, commercial, at comScore, in a statement. “Given the growth of smart TV viewership, we understand the importance of this partnership in our aim to deliver clients the sophisticated measurement solutions they need to grow their businesses.”

In its recently published “State of OTT” report, comScore found that across all OTT devices, smart TVs saw the biggest increase (up 35%) in streaming households between April 2017 and April 2018.

“As a leader in both TV and digital media measurement, comScore understands the seismic changes that are taking place as audiences move across platforms,” said Jodie McAfee, SVP of sales and marketing at Inscape, in a statement. “We’re excited to augment their existing linear, on-demand, and OTT data.”