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.

TiVo: 30% of Americans Using Smart TVs to Stream Video

In an over-the-top video ecosystem, new data from the latest TiVo Video Trends Report finds that more than 30% of Americans surveyed access streaming video through Internet-connected televisions. That compares with 16.3%, 15.4% and 14.3% for the next three most-popular streaming media devices, including mobile devices, Amazon Fire TV and Roku, respectively.

The data, which is based on a first-quarter (ended March 31) survey of 4,367 adults in the U.S. and Canada, would appear to slightly undermine Roku’s actual market share considering the streaming media pioneer’s OS software powers most Chinese-made Smart TVs not branded Samsung.

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TiVo said Samsung’s Wizen operating system is found in more than 50% of Smart TVs, followed by Google-owned Android TV (14.1%), Roku (13%) and LG’s WebOS (2%). Mobile devices are primarily powered by Apple iOS and Google Android.

Notably, Peacock, NBCUniversal’s pending streaming service, will be available on Vizio SmartCast TVs and LG Smart TVs when it launches July 15. Meanwhile, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max launched May 27 without distribution on Roku and Fire TV, underscoring the platform’s sluggish launch.

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According to data from Sensor Tower, 87,000 people used the Apple App Store and Google Play to download the HBO Max app on its first day. That was dwarfed by rivals Quibi and Disney+, which generated 380,000 and 4 million mobile downloads, respectively, on their first days of operation.

Parks: 54% of U.S. Broadband Homes Own a Smart TV

It’s an over-the-top video world. So, it’s not a surprise that new data from Parks Associates June 24 finds more than 50% of U.S. broadband households own at least one smart TV, making the Internet-connected TV the primary platform for video streaming services at a time when content consumption is increasing dramatically.

Dallas-based Parks found that from Q1 2019 to Q1 2020, more than six million domestic broadband households cut the cord on their traditional pay-TV service, primarily transitioning to OTT services or broadcast TV via antennas for video content.

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The COVID-19 crisis further changed how households consume video from both a device and service perspective, and its impacts will continue even as states lift shelter-in-place orders, according to Parks. U.S. broadband households are consuming on average more than 20 hours of video content weekly on the TV, an increase of nearly 40% from 2017.

“Nearly one-third of U.S. broadband households cite a smart TV as their primary streaming video device, nearly double the rate of streaming media players and computers,” research director Steve Nason said in a statement. “When looking specifically at online video content, the smart TV is the only measured device seeing a year-over-year increase as the primary streaming video device,” Nason said.

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The analyst said smart TV continues to improve its perceived value to consumers across a variety of key features and technologies.

[The units] are steadily improving their scores in ease of navigation and ability to find content or discover new apps, supplanting other video devices in the house to become the main source for video content,” he said.

Parks said improved user features come at an important market inflection point, where consumers are watching more video at home while also cutting the cord on pay-TV, leaving them to search for content on their own, across multiple services.

“We’ve seen broadcasters incorporate smart TVs and connected devices more and more into their app strategy, and those that have are seeing a huge uptick in overall consumption and user engagement,” said Jonathan Laor, co-founder/CEO, Applicaster, which assisted Parks with the research. “Over the past few months we’ve also seen end users going to their mobile devices for subscribing to new services, and a dramatic increase in their consumption on TVs, making TVs the new champions of viewer retention.”

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.

 

LG Expands Apple TV+ App to 2019 Smart TVs

LG Electronics is expanding compatibility with the Apple TV+ app to its 2019 smart televisions in more than 80 countries. The South Korean CE manufacturer unveiled Apple TV+ functionality with its 2020 smart TVs.

The Apple TV+ app gives LG TV users the ability to subscribe and stream the video subscription service featuring original shows such as “The Morning Show,” “See,” “Servant” and “Little America.”

The Apple TV app affords LG smart TV owners access to their iTunes video library and the ability to buy or rent over 100,000 movies and TV shows.

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LG’s 2019 TVs also support Apple AirPlay 2, which allows users to share or mirror content from their iPhone, iPad or Mac directly to an LG TV. Customers can also play music on the TV and sync it with other AirPlay 2 compatible speakers anywhere in the home.

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“LG continues to offer the best home entertainment experience through technological innovations that support the delivery of high quality viewing and user convenience,” Park Hyoung-sei, president of LG Home Entertainment Co, said in a statement. “By bringing the Apple TV app and Apple TV+ to even more TV models, we are once again demonstrating our determination to meet consumers’ needs and add value to our products.”

 

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.

Disney+ Live on Samsung Smart TVs in U.S.

Not to be left out of the Disney+ launch, Samsung Electronics Nov. 12 announced the new SVOD service is available on Samsung Smart TV models manufactured from 2016 through 2019.

Samsung offers its own Samsung TV Plus, an ad-supported video service delivering free access to news, sports and entertainment.

Samsung contends Disney+ gives its consumers “unprecedented” access to an extensive library of films, television series and huge variety of original feature films, documentaries, scripted and unscripted series, and short-form content.

Samsung line of Smart TVs offer a universal guide enabling users to browse content selections across multiple sources with customized recommendations.

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Users will also be able to leverage the Bixby feature on 2019 QLED TVs to control their TVs and access content through voice commands.

Samsung has been at the forefront offering a diverse selection of content options available to consumers on Internet-connected TV, including the streaming services users love such as Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube — and now, Disney+.

Indeed, Kevin Swint, SVP, Disney+, consumer tech & media executive, formerly worked at Samsung as VP, product and services, where he conceived and executed new direct-to-consumer strategies globally across Samsung Mobile Division’s apps, content, and services efforts.

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: 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.