Vizio SmartCast Adds Facebook Watch TV App

Vizio SmartCast users in the United States and Canada can now access the Facebook Watch TV app.

“Bringing Facebook Watch to SmartCast furthers our mission to provide Vizio customers with direct-to-device access to all of their favorite apps and channels in one place,” said Mike O’Donnell, chief revenue officer of Vizio, in a statement. “The Facebook Watch TV app helps connect audiences with content that matches their interests, all from the Vizio SmartCast home screen.”

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Vizio SmartCast TV users can select the Facebook Watch app icon from the SmartCast home screen and follow a prompt for a one-time Facebook login. Content on the app includes:

  • Facebook Originals such as “Red Table Talk,” covering social issues with Jada Pinkett Smith; the recently launched “Red Table Talk: The Estefans,” with Gloria Estefan; the daytime Emmy-winning show “Returning the Favor,” with Mike Rowe who spotlights everyday heroes; and Steve Harvey’s talk show, “Steve on Watch,” with celebrity interviews and news;
  • Live gaming streams and previously recorded videos from Facebook Gaming creators as well as livestreamed tournaments; and
  • Music videos from top artists to up-and-coming bands and classics across various genres.

Vizio Appoints Former AMC Networks, Dish Exec VP of Network Partnerships

Consumer electronics company Vizio has appointed former AMC Networks and Dish executive Adam Gaynor VP of network partnerships.

In this role, Gaynor will help build direct relationships with networks across Vizio’s SmartCast platform and its advertiser-direct business unit Vizio Ads.

“Adam’s addition to the team represents Vizio’s continued focus and investment in driving the future of TV,” Mike O’Donnell, chief revenue officer at Vizio, said in a statement. “Not only does Adam have extensive experience working with networks, but he has been at the forefront of championing addressable advertising, going back to his previous efforts driving live linear addressable advertising at AMC Networks and Dish.”

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In addition to spearheading network relationships, Gaynor will be heavily involved in advancing Project Open Addressable Ready (Project OAR), a technology consortium led by Vizio and created to advance the development and deployment of a new, open standard for addressable advertising on connected TVs. The consortium recently announced live market trials with network partners such as Fox, ViacomCBS, NBCUniversal, E.W. Scripps and AMC Networks.

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“Vizio is building the next generation of home entertainment, powered by data and personalized consumer experiences,” Gaynor said in a statement. “I’m excited to join the team to advance VIZIO’s initiatives on the network and addressable front, enabling advertisers to deliver more precise messages to their intended audiences at the right time.”

Before joining Vizio, Gaynor was most recently VP of AMCN Agility, the data solutions sales team for AMC Networks. There, he created and oversaw the development and monetization of all advanced and data-driven TV advertising opportunities across the AMC Networks portfolio. He also served as VP, media sales and analytics for Dish Network, where he led the company’s media sales division, inclusive of all addressable, interactive, programmatic and OTT initiatives. Gaynor also held posts at Game Show Network, Comcast and CBS.

Vizio Appoints Former Nielsen Exec to Board

TV maker Vizio has appointed John R. Burbank as an independent member of its board of directors.

Burbank “brings years of experience in media, analytics, marketing and telecommunications that will help guide the company, and advise its management team to best leverage its TV and audio hardware as well as its SmartCast platform,” according to a Vizio press release.

“We’re excited to be able to invite John to Vizio’s board of directors,” Vizio’s chairman of the board, founder and CEO William Wang said in a statement. “John is an accomplished business leader and experienced board member in consumer marketing and advertising sectors. His extensive knowledge and expertise will add great value to our board, and Vizio will benefit from John’s insights and counsel.”

As president of strategy and corporate development for the Nielsen Co., Burbank led the research firm’s digital transformation, developing new data products with partners such as Facebook, Alibaba and Tencent. Prior to joining Nielsen, Burbank held senior leadership positions in consumer marketing at AOL, AT&T and the Procter & Gamble Co. Today, John advises startups in both in the United States and Israel and serves as an independent director of Entergy Corp. and a board member of Connecticut Public Radio and Television. He holds a B.A. in Russian History and an MBA, both from the University of Chicago.

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“I look forward to sharing my industry experience with Vizio’s board and top management,” Burbank said in a statement. “With a rapidly changing market dynamic and increased consumer demand, Vizio is well positioned to deliver significantly enhanced entertainment and lifestyle experiences through a smarter integration of technologies.”

Vizio Launches 30 New Free Linear Channels on SmartCast Home Screen

Vizio April 7 launched 30 new free linear TV channels on its SmartCast Home screen.

Channels include news and lifestyle content from USA Today and CBC News; sports information and action from USA Today Sportswire and the Fubo Sports Network; and celebrity and entertainment news from TMZ and Hollywire. Do-it-yourself channels include Hungry, Food52 and The Design Network.  Sci-Fi content is on Dust, documentaries on Magellan TVNow and Docurama, and cult classics on CONtv.

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The free streaming channels can be found under a “Free Channels” row on the SmartCast Home screen.

“The new wave of programming comes at a time when TV usage is surging,” according to a Vizio release. “Vizio SmartCast TV’s free ad supported apps and streaming TV services saw a 59% increase in viewing sessions over the last three weeks of March.”

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“More people are discovering our free content offerings and making them part of their daily routines right now,” said Mike O’Donnell, SVP of platform business. “We recognize the important role that TV plays in the home, especially when families are being asked to stay inside. It’s important for us to deliver popular content to consumers, and we are focused on continually expanding additional free and premium options for our Vizio SmartCast TV customers.”

Vizio Survey Finds Double-Digit Viewership Percentage Jump in Video App Use

Percentage viewership of VOD apps jumped double digits in a Vizio survey comparing two weekends in March, as more consumers began to stay home due to the coronavirus crisis.

Viewership of ad-supported VOD apps jumped 19% while overall viewership of TV apps grew 9% from the weekend of March 7-8 to the weekend of March 14-15, according to a survey of 9.6 million Vizio SmartCast users.

Meanwhile, research firm Inscape found both streaming viewers (OTT) and linear viewers watched 10% more content overall in its survey of 14 million opt-in TVs comparing the same time periods.

In a week-over-week survey comparing March 2-7 to March 8-15, the firm saw an 8.6% jump in sessions, or engagement (such as opening an app).

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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.

 

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.