Vizio Ups Q2 Streaming Users, Revenue as Consumer Electronics Sales Decline

Vizio Holding Corp. Aug. 8 reported 17.6 million SmartCast Active Accounts, which streamed 5 billion hours of content in the second quarter (ended June 30), up 16% from 4.3 billion hours in the previous-year period. Vizio ended the previous-year quarter with 16.1 million active accounts.

The Irvine, Calif.-based consumer electronics company determines SmartCast Active Accounts as the number of Vizio Smart TVs where a user has activated the SmartCast operating system (dubbed Platform+) through an internet connection at least once in the past 30 days. Total Vizio viewing hours, which includes the branded WatchFree+ platform, increased 9% to 8.9 billion from 8.2 billion.

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Vizio, like other consumer electronics manufacturers, is pushing a proprietary operating system offering ad-supported licensed and original content and third-party app access. In the quarter, the platform debuted “Clean Break,” a new series hosted by professional organizer Michelle Hobgood from Vizio’s branded content studio.

In the quarter, Vizio launched Peacock Preview on its WatchFree+ channel offering consumers access to premium content and a seamless way to engage with the Peacock streaming app (with a separate subscription).

Added WatchFree+ channels included a new local channel category collection, “Project Runway” and “Family Feud Classic” bringing the total number of FAST channels to more than 290. The platform also launched third-party apps for the Weather Channel, QVC/HSN, Wild Earth, and Power Nation, bringing the total number of built-in apps to more than 170.

As a result, Platform+ revenue increased 28% to $142.3 million from $110.8 million in the prior-year period. The platform posted an operating profit of $85.8 million, up from from $69.9 million a year earlier.

Meanwhile legacy consumer electronics hardware sales continue to be challenged. Smart-TV unit shipments dropped 11% to 1 million from 1.1 million a year ago. Overall device revenue (which includes sound bars) saw revenue drop more than 15% to $252.1 million, from $298.1 million in the prior-year period. Operating income plummeted to $300,000, from $4 million in the prior-year period.

Overall revenue dipped less than 4% to $394.4 million, from $408.9 million. Net income dropped 17% to $1.9 million from $2.3 million a year ago.

CEO William Wang said the fiscal results underscore the company’s strategy of integrating hardware and software business models.

“Unlike the challenges many are facing in the advertising marketplace, our business is firing on all cylinders, and our team delivered 35% growth in ad revenue during the quarter,” Wang said in a statement. “In addition, our key measure of platform monetization, average revenue per user (ARPU), surpassed $30.”

Vizio Smart TVs Get Access to ‘Hallmark Movie Now’ SVOD Service

Hallmark Media Dec. 22 announced that its SVOD service, Hallmark Movies Now, is now available on VIZIO Smart TVs. The launch comes as the service closes out its annual holiday programming stunt, “Movies & Mistletoe,” which features Hallmark holiday programming, and gears up for a January lineup featuring movies The Wedding Veil, The Wedding Veil Unveiled, and The Wedding Veil Legacy, as well as The Perfect Pairing, and Girlfriendship, among others.

“We’re proud to make our signature, in-demand brand of original content available to Vizio Smart TV customers,” Lauri McGarrigan, SVP of business development and content distribution for Hallmark Media, said in a statement.

Vizio Smart TV owners can find Hallmark Movies Now in the Vizio Content Store, priced at $5.99 a month or $59.99 a year.

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Vizio Bows ‘My Watchlist’ and Enhanced Recommendations Software

Vizio Oct. 25 launched “My Watchlist,” a new feature that allows viewers using Vizio smart televisions the ability to add their favorite TV shows and movies from different streaming services into one central location. Once a show or movie is added, a dedicated My Watchlist row will appear on the SmartCast Home Screen. When ready to begin viewing, the user simply selects the preferred title and is immediately launched into the service.

The software enables users to collect programming across myriad streaming services, including Apple TV+, Discovery+, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Paramount+, Prime Video, Starz and Vizio’s WatchFree+, among others.

“The user is at the center of everything we do at Vizio, and we recognize that our users want the ability to easily find the content that matters most to them,” Steve Yum, VP of product management, said in a statement.

Vizio has also upgraded its content recommendation software, now based on the applications and genres the user engages with most. Users will see recommended titles for the streaming services accessed most — helping them get the most out of their SVOD services. For example, if a user views Apple TV+ frequently, they may see an Apple TV+ row and a list of show and movies recommendations for that service.

Also new to the SmartCast home screen is an additional recommendation type, featuring a row dedicated to the genres of content that users like most. For example, if “Crime” is the user’s favorite genre to watch, the user will see a row titled “True Crime” with a list of similar titles.

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DistroTV FAST App Added to Vizio Smart TV Line-up

DistroTV, an independent, free, ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) app, is expanding its content offerings to the Vizio Smart TV platform.

DistroTV features more than 270 multicultural channels with everything from news, sports, movies, music and entertainment, and lifestyle content, as well as thousands of hours of VOD content. This includes original content and new channel offerings that cater to English, Southeast Asian/Indian and Spanish-speaking audiences, as well as a recently released channel bundle that targets the African community. Available to stream for free in more than 60 markets through its apps on streaming devices and smart TVs, as well as worldwide on the Web through distro.tv, the app offers access with no registration, sign-up or fees required.

DistroTV’s  streaming lineup for the U.S., U.K. and Canadian audience includes: 45 sports channels; sports, combat sports, niche sports and outdoors channels, such as Stadium and beIN, SPORTS Xtra, Swerve Sports, IMPACT Wrestling Channel, FightNetwork, Wired2Fish, ACL Cornhole, MotoAmerica TV and FuelTV; movies and entertainment channels, including CineLife by Magnolia Pictures, Kweli TV, Watch It Scream, FrightFlix, Bowery Classics, Dark Matter, CinePride and more; 13 documentary channels, including Goalcast, Magellan TV, Beautiful Planet and True History; and new additions to the entertainment, lifestyle and food category, including AXS TV Now, Trace Urban, Bite, Planet Eat and GustoTV.

Other streaming content includes 21 Spanish-language channels available in North America, such as Estrella, beIN Sports XTRA Ñ, Top Cine, Canela.TV, Trace Latina, Casa Comedy and Spanglish and more Spanish language entertainment, movie, documentaries, news and sports channels; 36 live streaming DistroTV Desi South Asian news, entertainment and music channels featuring WION, TimesNow, Mastiii, Epic, MirrorNow, BritAsia and more; and the African channel bundle, DistroTV Africa, featuring 11 entertainment and music-oriented channels available to stream for free.

Vizio Smart TV also offers audiences in the United States and Canada home screen access to apps such as Apple TV+, BET+, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, FuboTV, Netflix, Paramount+, Peacock, Prime Video and YouTube TV.

“We are thrilled to join the Vizio family, particularly at a time when we are continuing to grow our viewership and channel content at a rapid pace,” Navdeep Saini, co-founder and CEO of DistroScale, parent company of DistroTV, said in a statement. “By expanding our distribution via Vizio Smart TVs, we can continue to provide audiences with the content they crave, and all while maintaining our FAST no-sign up, credit card, or email required model.”

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“Vizio appreciates DistroTV’s dedication to building personalized experiences for today’s streaming audience,” Chris Tanquary, senior director of business development at Vizio, said in a statement. “Vizio strives to be a place where viewers have endless entertainment options across all categories and genres, so, there is something for everyone.”

Vizio Smart-TVs Adding Amazon Music App

Vizio March 4 announced the addition of audio streaming service Amazon Music to the lineup of apps available to Vizio smart-TV users in the United States.

The Amazon Music app allows Vizio users to launch the app from the home screen and search and discover songs, albums, playlists and more. Prime members have access to 2 million songs — all ad-free and at no additional cost above their Prime membership. Listeners can also access the premium subscription service Amazon Music Unlimited, which offers more than 75 million songs and the latest new releases. A free ad-supported version is also available, providing users with access to a selection of top playlists and stations on Amazon Music.

“With millions of users across the country, Vizio is an obvious choice for Amazon Music to expand our service into the homes of music fans,” Karolina Joynathsing, director of business development for Amazon Music, said in a statement. “We look forward to our customers being able to easily listen to their favorite music on Vizio smart-TVs starting today.” 

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“At Vizio, we believe the TV is the centerpiece of the home entertainment experience, which is why we’ve made it a priority to add content and services that our users love,” Katherine Pond, VP of business development at Vizio, said in a statement. “The addition of music services like Amazon Music, together with our award-winning Sound Bars, allows us to offer users a new way to search, discover and experience high-quality music, podcasts and more from their Vizio smart-TV.”

The Amazon Music app joins a roster of music-related apps on Vizio, such as Pandora, Vevo and Tidal, as well as channels available on Vizio’s free streaming service WatchFree+.

Consumer Electronics Firm Vizio Touts FAST Content Specialization

Vizio, like several television manufacturers, offers a proprietary ad-supported streaming service, dubbed SmartCast, featuring licensed and increasingly original content.

The platform last month through its “Features” campaign showcased upstart third-party channel Polaris featuring curated content celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Black History Month and exclusive content leading up to the Super Bowl. The marketing helped Polaris generate twice its normal session times as well as a 13.5x increase in viewing minutes over the same period last December.

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Steve DeMain

Features seeks to leverage Vizio’s first-party, opted-in viewership data and home-screen targeting capabilities to deliver personalized content via free ad-supported channels, movies and shows across the Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer’s SmartCast operating system.

“As a data-led effort, this allows us to be very prescriptive about how we find audiences and deliver them content that’s relevant to them, whether that be content that they’re predisposed to on Vizio, or in streaming and linear environments,” Steve DeMain, VP of engagement, said in a statement.

DeMain contends that across the FAST environment, live news performs well because it’s relevant to what’s happening that day. So, when Polaris started to promote a MLK Marathon weekend, the programming was very specific to the weekend itself.

“There was content related to various parts of Dr. King’s speeches, all the way through music videos, to the history of Dr. King,” DeMain said.” So, it was so relevant. That’s how you retain viewing times.”

During build up to the Super Bowl, Polaris added several game-day related programming elements, including an interview with halftime performer Eminem and press conference, which increased average audience and average viewership minutes 200%.

“Treating your content like a traditional TV network, and not just an extension of a network makes a big difference,” DeMain said. “If you look at a lot of the networks and FAST syndicated networks, it’s mainly repurposed content that runs across multiple platforms. That works because syndication historically has worked well. But there’s something unique about creating this stickiness in this timely programming, then that draws in that audience and keeps the audience coming back.”

Vizio SmartCast Adds A+E Subscription Streaming Apps

Vizio SmartCast viewers now have access to A+E Networks commercial-free subscription streaming apps History Vault, A&E Crime Central and Lifetime Movie Club.

History Vault and A&E Crime Central are each available for $4.99 per month and Lifetime Movie Club is available for $3.99 per month, all found in the app row on the SmartCast Home Screen.

History Vault  features more than 3,500 hours of content offering the breadth and depth of The History Channel’s extensive catalogue, complete with series, specials and documentaries, including some content only available on History Vault. Programs include library documentaries (military history, biographical) and docuseries such as “America’s Greatest Feud: The History of the Hatfields and the McCoys,” as well as past seasons of series such as “American Restoration” and “Ice Road Truckers.”

A&E Crime Central features more than 1,300 hours of content, including exclusives, spanning crime-genre content from A&E, The History Channel, Lifetime and LMN, including titles such as “The First 48: Missing Persons,” “Beyond Scared Straight” and “Cold Case Files.”

Lifetime Movie Club (LMC) has more thanr 300 movies from the Lifetime movie library, including Flowers in the Attic, Death of a Cheerleader and Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret.

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“Vizio’s commitment to offer viewers a wide breadth of compelling content and experiences makes expanding A+E on SmartCast a natural fit,” Katherine Pond, VP of business development for Vizio, said in a statement. “With A+E’s entertainment portfolio that tells amazing stories and spans multiple genres, we’re thrilled to be launching these additional A+E apps that are sure to keep the whole family entertained.”

The A+E subscription apps join ad-supported streaming channels available from A+E across Vizio’s WatchFree+ streaming service, including three channels debuting on the SmartCast platform, single series channels “Ax Men,” “Ice Road Truckers” and “Modern Marvels.”

Additional A+E channels on WatchFree+ include Crime 360, Lively Place,
Skills + Thrills, Movie Favorites by Lifetime, Defy TV, TrueReal and Tiny House Nation.

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“This integration with Vizio SmartCast TVs extends the reach of these popular streaming apps and greatly adds to our connected TV footprint, making it easier than ever for our engaged audiences to access their favorite content when, where, and how they want,” Mark Garner, EVP of global content sales and business development or A+E Networks, said in a statement. “We value our relationship with Vizio and look forward to building new ways for viewers to tune into their favorite library content across our brands.”

Sling TV Added on Vizio Smartcast TVs

The Sling TV app is now available on Vizio SmartCast TVs.

The cable alternative comes with a three-day free trial on SmartCast. 

Sling features live content with free channels such as ABC News Live and premium cable networks such as CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ESPN, ESPN2 and TNT, plus more than 150,000 on-demand shows and movies.

“Delivering on our commitment to provide endless entertainment options and enhanced consumer experiences, we are delighted to provide SmartCast users with access to premium channels like ESPN and Showtime as well as live sports, news and entertainment through the SLING TV streaming app,” Katherine Pond, VP of business development at Vizio, said in a statement.

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“With home screen access on Vizio SmartCast, we are able to deliver our premier service to millions of users across America,” Seth Van Sickel, SVP of product and operations at Sling TV, said in a statement. “Sling continues to be the most convenient way to watch the shows you love when you want, where you want, and on your terms across a wide breadth of device options.”

Sling TV joins streaming services such as Apple TV+, Discovery+, Disney+, HBOMax, Hulu, Netflix, Peacock and Prime Video already available on Vizio SmartCast. Vizio SmartCast also includes support for Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast built-in, allowing viewers to stream, control, and share content from their phone, tablet or laptop directly onto the big screen.

Discovery+ Joins Vizio SmartCast AVOD Platform

Discovery and Vizio Dec. 16 announced that the former’s Discovery+ streaming service is now available as an add-on option to Vizio SmartCast ad-supported VOD users. SmartCast is an AVOD platform embedded in Vizio’s internet-connected televisions.

As part of the launch, Vizio is showcasing a dedicated Discovery+ link on the SmartCast home screen. The carousel, “Discover More on Discovery+,” will showcase the variety and volume of the content portfolio and introduce users to the “best-of Discovery+” with the platform’s top shows.

The Discovery+ service is available for a $4.99 per month with a seven-day trial, or a commercial-free option for $6.99 per month.

Currently, Discovery+ subs will find holiday-themed programming from franchises such as True Crime series “Fruitcake Fraud” and “The Pioneer Woman’s Hometown: Holiday Themes,” in addition to new series such as “Discovering David Dobrik,” “Drew’s Dream Car with Drew Scott and Ant Anstead,” “My Dream Kitchen with Giada de Laurentiis and Carla Hall,” and a new season of “Hometown: Ben’s Workshop.”

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“The addition of Discovery+ on the SmartCast home screen means audiences can dive into a deep catalog of content and instantly stream some of the most popular shows on television,” Katherine Pond, VP of business development at Vizio, said in a statement.

Gabriel Sauerhoff, SVP of digital distribution and commercial partnerships at Discovery, said the agreement helps broaden the company’s streaming footprint.

“This new partnership allows us to expand the reach of all of Discovery’s digital properties to even more of our dedicated viewers,” Sauerhoff said.

Separately, discovery+ is also now available on Roku streaming devices and branded Roku TVs in the U.K. and Ireland.

“We are always looking to bring the best possible entertainment selection to our customers, and are excited about the wide variety of entertainment that discovery+ offers Roku users,” said Yulia Poltorak, director of content distribution at Roku.

Discovery+, which launched in January, will end the year with more than 15 million paid subscribers.

Vizio AVOD Platform Adds Indie Movies

Vizio has added a slate of indie movies to its growing ad-supported VOD platform WatchFree+, available on branded SmartCast televisions.

In separate license deals with 1091 Pictures (formerly The Orchard) and Total Content Digital, Vizio gained access to myriad titles, including Cartel Land, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, The Hero and The Overnight, as well as gangster movie American Animals.

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“Few companies in today’s media landscape have the kind of market penetration that Vizio commands, which is why [its] foray into AVOD makes so much strategic sense,” Sana Soni, director of sales at 1091 Pictures, said in a statement. “We’re proud to work with Vizio on their ad-supported on demand programming journey, ensuring audiences have direct and easy access to 1091’s premium content which is sure to connect with viewers of all kinds.”

TCD titles include Paranormal Files, Remarkable Places to Eat, Killer Mysteries, Honey I Bought the House, Xploration Awesome Planet, Unsealed Alien Files and Coolest Places on Earth.

“What a great opportunity for TCD and for viewers to watch our vast library,” said Kenneth Campo, managing partner at TCD.

Vizio in August revamped WatchFree+ include a new program guide, data-driven content recommendations and custom curated channels.

“WatchFree+ provides audiences with access to the channels and programming you expect with cable, but in a free streaming environment that makes it easy to personalize and customize the entertainment experience,” said Katherine Pond, VP of business development at Vizio. “With the growth and evolution of WatchFree+, we now offer hundreds of free channels where we manage and control the programming for consumers and the ad inventory for marketers — providing better experiences for all.”