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.

Roku’s Smart TV Guru Chas Smith Retiring

Roku Dec. 4 announced that Chas Smith, SVP and GM of Roku TVs and players, is expected to retire and leave the company at the end of the first quarter next year. The company has a search underway with a leading executive placement firm to place his successor.

“Over the last several years, Chas has been instrumental in transforming our business,” founder/CEO Anthony Wood said in a statement. “He took the idea of giving consumers and TV makers a simple smart TV and made Roku TV the No. 1 licensed smart TV platform in the U.S.”

Smith joined Roku in March 2010 as VP of sales and led online Roku player sales. In 2012, he assumed the role of GM of OEM to lead the Roku TV business. Three years later was promoted to SVP/GM of Roku TV and Roku players and also oversees the whole home division.

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.

Roku Inks JVC to Smart TV Program

Roku announced an agreement with China’s Shenzhen MTC Co. to build smart TVs under the JVC brand featuring the Roku operating system. The JVC smart TVs are expected to ship in the U.S. later this year.

“[The] Roku streaming platform … is incredibly easy to use and offers access to countless movies and TV episodes all from the home screen,” John Araki, chief technology officer of JVC, said in a statement. “We are looking forward to marrying our longstanding history of innovation with Roku’s popular smart TV platform as we aim to improve our customers’ everyday life with smartly designed products making life a little more fun.”

The Roku TV licensing program offers TV OEM partners a cost-effective way to build smart TVs connected to the Internet. Roku provides hardware reference designs, so TV brands can offer smart TV options at competitive price points.

The Roku operating system provides consumers with access to an ever-growing library of content as well as regular, automatic software updates.

“We look forward to working with MTC to grow the JVC smart TV presence in the U.S.,” said Chas Smith, GM of Roku TV & Players. “We know most TV manufacturers will license a TV OS and are proud of our low-cost purpose-built solution and the level of collaboration and support that we offer our partners while delivering a superior experience to consumers.”

 

 

One Billion Internet-Connected TV Devices in Use Globally

It’s a streaming video world. There more than one billion connected TV devices now in use worldwide, according to new data from Strategy Analytics.

Connected TV devices – including Smart TVs, Blu-ray Disc players, video game consoles, streaming media devices – enable users to stream over-the-top video content to the TV.

Smart TVs have been consistently gaining market share and now represent nearly 60% of the total Internet-connected media device installed base.

“The popularity of connected TV, in particular Smart TVs and dedicated media streaming devices such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast, has grown dramatically over the last few years and has led to a fundamental shift in how consumers view and engage with content on the TV set,” David Watkins, director at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement.

Spearheaded by Roku, Strategy Analytics expects more than 55 million streaming media devices to ship globally this year – about a third of 150 million Smart TV market.

“Sony has long been the global leader in connected TV devices in terms of devices installed in homes thanks not only to its strength in TVs and Blu-ray players, but also as a result of its leading position in the global game console market,” added David Mercer, VP at Strategy Analytics.

The report said Samsung now equals Sony at the top of the rankings in terms of overall installed connected TV device units, and the South Korean company is poised to take the lead in the second half of 2018.

“As Smart TVs take an ever-growing share of the overall market, Samsung will replace Sony at the top of the device footprint rankings later this year thanks to its dominant position in the world’s Smart TV market,” said Mercer.

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.”