Apple TV App on Vizio Smartcast TVs in U.S. and Canada

Vizio customers in the United States and Canada now have access to the Apple TV app on SmartCast TVs.

For a limited time, eligible Vizio SmartCast customers in the United States can sign up for Apple TV+ and receive three months free.

“With the Apple TV app coming to Vizio SmartCast TVs, customers can enjoy an even broader range of exciting entertainment, including the popular and award-winning Apple TV+ service,” Mike O’Donnell, chief revenue officer of Vizio, said in a statement. “Knowing the important role the TV has in the home, Vizio continues to expand the entertainment available for consumers to discover.”

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Vizio SmartCast TV users can select the Apple TV app icon from the SmartCast Home screen and sign in with their Apple ID to subscribe to Apple TV+.

Customers can also subscribe to Apple TV channels, such as Showtime, CBS All Access and Starz, and watch online and offline, ad-free and on demand, directly on the Apple TV app. Through Family Sharing, up to six family members can share subscriptions to Apple TV channels using their personal Apple ID and password.

Additionally, Vizio SmartCast TV users can browse the Apple TV app to buy or rent more than 100,000 movies and TV shows, including titles available in 4K HDR and with Dolby Atmos, as well as access their library of movie and TV show purchases from Apple.

Vizio customers can also enjoy Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit capabilities on SmartCast TVs. With AirPlay 2, Vizio customers can stream, control, and share their favorite content directly from their iPhone, iPad, or Mac to their Vizio SmartCast TV. HomeKit allows customers to easily and securely control their SmartCast TV using the Home app or by asking Siri on their Apple devices.

Comcast Eyes Leasing X1 Software to TV Manufacturers

Comcast is reportedly considering licensing its X1 set-top box software to third-party consumer electronics manufacturers of smart televisions. Such a move would put Comcast in competition with Roku, Google and Amazon, among other tech companies affording TV manufacturers with Internet-connected consoles.

First reported by Protocol.com, citing sources familiar with the situation, Comcast engaged in initial discussions with TV manufacturers in January at the pre-COVID-19 CES confab in Las Vegas. The cable operator, which is slowly coming to grips with a changing pay-TV market — underscored by the departure of more than 815,000 subscribers through June 30 — currently licenses X1 technology for third-party set-tops to Cox Communications and soon Charter (Spectrum TV Plus).

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Roku cut its teeth licensing its operating system through set-top devices manufactured for the former 21st Century Fox’s NOW TV. Comcast now owns NOW TV through its acquisition of Sky from Fox. Samsung, one of the world’s largest TV manufacturers, has begun licensing its Tizen OS smart TV technology to third parties.

Comcast’s move into software licensing could be accelerating after attempts to sell NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service through the Roku platform fell through. Similarly to WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, Peacock is also not available on Amazon Fire TV.

Launched in 2012 as Comcast’s antidote to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, cloud-based X1 platform now represents about 60% of the cabler’s pay-TV subscriber base. Since then X1 offers subs access to Netflix and YouTube apps. Comcast also launched broadband-only Xfinity Flex online TV platform.

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.