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.”

Vizio Inks VOD Movie Deal With Lionsgate, Disney, Sony, Samuel Goldwyn

Consumer electronics manufacturer Vizio Dec. 1 announced a license deal with several Hollywood studios for the distribution of myriad catalog movies and TV shows across its ad-supported video-on-demand WatchFree+ streaming platform.

Irvine, Calif. – based Vizio will have access to movies from Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution (Daredevil, Confessions of a Shopaholic, and Alien: Resurrection); Lionsgate (SouthpawThe Founder and Lion); Sony Pictures (Air Force OneTears of the Sun and Stealth); and Samuel Goldwyn (The Boondock Saints, The Lazarus Effect and The Woman in Black 2).

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The SmartCast platform will also be the exclusive connected TV platform for a limited release of season five of LOL Networks’ “Cold as Balls,” starring Kevin Hart as he challenges world class athletes to survive a hard-hitting, awkward interview while submerged in a bone-chilling locker room ice bath. Throughout November and December, episodes from season five will be released exclusively on WatchFree+.

Vizio rebooted the AVOD service in August 2021, offering 4,000 movies, TV shows, and exclusives to SmartCast audiences on demand from more than 17 content and studio partners.

“Today’s audiences want on demand movies and TV shows on their own terms,” Mike O’Donnell, chief revenue officer at Vizio, said in a statement. “With the evolution of on demand programming, SmartCast users can now browse through hundreds of shows and movies for free, and without any subscriptions or logins required.”

AFM Panel: Digital Marketplace Shifting to PVOD, AVOD and FAST

The digital marketplace is shifting, said panelists at the virtual American Film Market Nov. 1. Premium VOD has accelerated during the pandemic while subscription services’ pullback from buying independent content has made free ad-supported services such as AVOD and FAST the new target for content distributors.

The pandemic made PVOD a necessary distribution model, said Michael Murphy, president of Gravitas Ventures. As it subsides, “it’s going to be interesting” to see if the move to PVOD continues, he said.

“Let the consumer decide how they’re going to spend their dollars,” he said, noting a Gravitas release scheduled for January will have a 21-day theatrical window followed by PVOD.

“The splits in PVOD are better than the splits in theatrical,” he noted, adding “we still believe in the theatrical moviegoing experience.”

“We’re experimenting as the world continues to evolve,” he said.

Greg Barnard, director of content and acquisitions, at Vizio, said that based on the data collected via the company’s Smartcast system, consumers are turning more and more to free ad-supported content.

“People are looking for free options,” he said. “They’re looking to watch free content somewhere. It’s a very high-search term.”

Ad-supported free services are “breathing new life into our library” as SVOD services such as Netflix have “scaled back the number of films they acquire and what they want to pay,” Murphy added.

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Noting that Peacock has licensed a lot of content from Gravitas, he said, “It’s a little bit of a gold rush now in AVOD.”

Discovery and marketing in the digital space is still a work in progress, they said.

“Sometimes, it’s thought that you’ve got to do traditional television, traditional commercials for an awareness campaign,” Murphy said. “With PVOD, we felt that you could be a little bit more specific in your spends, try to spend maybe with the platform, spend with Amazon. And also knowing that although maybe someone’s not going to rent the movie on Amazon, everyone goes to Amazon to shop, so it’s kind of two birds with one stone there. You can get an awareness campaign, as well as potentially a click through or tap through to that ultimate buy.”

“Making content easy to find, discoverable, accessible … is absolutely critical to what we’re doing,” Barnard said. Placement on the screen of the smart TV is prime real estate.

“We own all the marketing on our platform, and that’s really powerful for us,” he said.

Packaging content and gathering the right creative for the digital space is key, they said.

Vizio likes collections around “a series, a moment, a vertical,” he said, adding he’d rather have all the seasons of two series, rather than just one or two seasons of 10 series.

To attract viewers, Vizio often asks for better creative.

“Creative that is just not intriguing enough” for the digital space is a common problem, he said.

Murphy noted he “just added some horsepower to our creative team” with a new hire.

“We need to be more aggressive and forward leaning with our providers,” he said.

Despite the move to digital distribution, Murphy said Gravitas hasn’t abandoned physical disc release, if it’s cost effective, mostly via manufacture on demand.

“Our filmmakers like it,” he said.

AVOD Service Documentary+ Available on Vizio SmartCast TVs

The documentary streaming platform Documentary+ is now available on Vizio SmartCast TVs.

Audiences can find curated content from Documentary+’s collection of nonfiction films and series on Vizio WatchFree+, the free streaming service available on Vizio SmartCast TVs. SmartCast audiences can now access Documentary+’s programming via the updated WatchFree+ program guide, with no additional devices, subscriptions, logins or fees.

The Documentary+ channel hosts nonfiction titles spanning across genres from true crime to exposés to music docs. The average Documentary+ user has watched 80 minutes of content since it launched as an AVOD streaming service in January 2021.

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Documentary+ houses a collection of feature documentaries, cult classics and shorts and features award-winning and nominated filmmakers including Spike Jonze, Kathryn Bigelow, Penny Lane, Elaine May, Jessica Beshir, Terrence Malick, Werner Herzog and Sam Pollard. Included in the existing library is the docuseries with Anthony Bourdain and VICE “A Cook’s Tour,” which follows Bourdain on his travels across the world to explore local culinary cuisines from Tokyo to Portugal to the Napa Valley over 35 episodes.

“We are bullish on the idea that FAST is the next step in the evolution of TV as we build Documentary+ to become the leading premium doc channel,” Bryn Mooser, Documentary+ founder, said in a statement. “Launching on Vizio’s SmartCast is bringing the Documentary+ channel to millions more households.”

“With access to feature-length and short documentary films from the Documentary+ channel on WatchFree+, we are able to serve up a premium content and viewing experience at no cost to the SmartCast audience,” Greg Barnard, director of content acquisition for Vizio, said in a statement. “Adding these high quality, non-fiction films to the ever-expanding library of content options means there is something for everyone with SmartCast.”

In addition to Vizio, Documentary+ is available on smart-TV channels including Xumo, LG Channel Plus and LG Channels as well as on-demand streaming apps including Apple TV, Amazon and Roku, mobile devices, and www.docplus.com.

FuboTV Joins Vizio SmartCast Platform

Vizio Sept. 9 announced that online live sports TV streaming platform FuboTV is now available on its ad-supported SmartCast platform. With a subscription to FuboTV, SmartCast users have access to more than 100 streaming channels.

“About 94% of FuboTV subscribers watch sports, news and entertainment on the big screen,” Len Landi, SVP of business development for FuboTV said in a statement. “It’s a perfect marriage as we gear up for the fall sports season.”

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The FuboTV app on SmartCast TVs offers up to six users within a subscription to have their own set of recordings (which never expire), personalized recommendations, and a program guide that is unique to their content preferences.

Users also have a customized program guide, in addition to the ability to record entire seasons of a show, and record all content related to a favorite team, among other options.

“Sports continue to be one of the most popular categories of programming on television, so FuboTV’s offering with an impressive array of live sports programming as well as hundreds of other entertainment options is a welcome addition to the SmartCast lineup,” said Katherine Pond, VP of business development at Irvine, Calif.-based Vizio.

In addition to the FuboTV streaming app, Vizio offers access to apps, including Apple TV+, BET+, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Paramount+, Peacock, Prime Video and YouTube TV. It also includes built-in support for Apple AirPlay 2 & Chromecast, allowing viewers to stream, control, and share content from their phone, tablet or laptop directly to the big screen.