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.

Electric Entertainment Officially Launches OTT Service ElectricNow With Availability on Vizio Smart TVs

Electric Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based production, distribution and post-production company, has announced the hard launch of its OTT app and channel ElectricNow, concurrently with the app’s availability on all Vizio SmartCast televisions.

SmartCast  users have around-the-clock access to Electric Entertainment’s produced content such as TV series “Leverage,” “The Librarians” and “The Outpost,” as well as acquired programming such as the feature films Blood on the Crown, starring Harvey Keitel and Malcolm McDowell, and Heavy, starring Sophie Turner and Daniel Zovatto.

“We soft-launched ElectricNow in spring of 2020,” said Dean Devlin, CEO of Electric Entertainment, in a statement. “The consumer feedback and corresponding viewership has been well beyond our expectations.  We originally set out to create a hub where we could aggregate all of our various fan bases from ‘Leverage,’ ‘The Librarians,’ ‘The Outpost,’ ‘Almost Paradise’ and all of our podcast subscribers into a single space. Now with the app being available to this incredibly large consumer base via Vizio SmartCast, we are reaching a much broader more mainstream audience, picking up new fans along the way.”

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“With the addition of ElectricNow to SmartCast, we are continuing Vizio’s mission to provide our audiences with endless entertainment,” Chris Tanquary, director of business development and partnerships for Vizio, said in a statement. “ElectricNow’s hard launch is a great step in that effort, and gives SmartCast users access to their exciting original and acquired content.”

Electric Entertainment recently announced marathons on ElectricNow for its original programs “Leverage” and “The Outpost,” timed to coincide with the streaming and/or broadcasting of these program’s new episodes and seasons.

Devlin has seen ElectricNow as not only a one-stop-shop destination for fans of Electric’s programming, but also as a marketing tool to lead viewers to their streaming and broadcast partners, according to a company press release.

“Our fans and broadcast/streaming partners have been equally important to us,” he said in a statement. “Bringing them together has been a major initiative for us.”

BET+ Streaming App is Coming to Vizio SmartCast

Vizio Aug. 3 announced that viewers of its SmartCast streaming video platform will soon have on-demand access to ViacomCBS’s BET+ streaming service. BET+ offers movies, TV shows, comedy and stage plays from black creators.

Content includes: “First Wives Club,” “Tyler Perry’s Ruthless,” “The Family Business” and “American Gangster: Trap Queens” from creators Tracy Oliver, Tyler Perry and Carl Weber, in addition to catalog series “Martin,” “House of Payne” and “Being Mary Jane.”

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“This addition to our line-up of premium apps aligns perfectly with our dedication to deliver content for every audience that can be enjoyed instantly on the big screen,” Katherine Pond, VP of business development, said in a statement.

SmartCast users can find BET+ in the app row on the home screen starting Aug. 4. Users can access the streaming service for a free, seven-day trial before purchasing a premium, commercial-free subscription for $9.99 per month.

BET+ joining a list of SmartCast streaming services that includes Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, Peacock and Amazon Prime Video. 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.

Vizio Adds Funimation Anime App to SmartCast TVs

Vizio July 7 announced that the Funimation app will soon be available on its connected SmartCast platform. The app features access to more than 13,000 hours of anime episodes, movies, extras and top trending shows from Japan, including My Hero AcademiaDemon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Fruits Basket, Black Clover and Attack on Titan, all on-demand, either subtitled and/or dubbed.

The $5.99/$7.99 (premium) monthly streaming service also includes fan-favorites and anime classics like Cowboy Bebop, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and One Piece. Funimation just released its summer slate with more than 20 new and returning series as well as the global hit, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, which arrived on the service last month after being in theaters this spring.

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“Our partnership with Vizio now completes Funimation’s availability on all major distribution platforms and truly lets us be where every fan is,” Kaliel Roberts, chief product officer at Funimation Global Group, said in a statement. “Whether or not it’s text-to-speech navigation, search capabilities or curated recommendations, the custom-built Funimation user experience for anime fans on Vizio will be amazing.”

By pairing a Vizio SmartCast TV with one of Irvine, Calif.-based company’s sound bars, Funimation streamers will not only see every HD detail, but can experience a fully immersive sound with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X floor-to-ceiling sound.

In addition to the Funimation streaming app, Vizio provides direct access to on-screen apps from Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, Paramount+, Peacock, Prime Video and YouTube TV. It 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.

Estrella Media Streaming Ad-Supported Spanish-Language Content on Vizio TVs

Estrella Media, the Spanish-language media company, April 19 announced that its EstrellaTV and Estrella News streaming networks are now available on Internet-connected Vizio televisions.

Launched in 2009, EstrellaTV has grown to 15-owned or operated stations and more than 30 broadcast affiliates with a catalog of more than 20,000 hours of programming. The network also has national carriage agreements with major cable and satellite operators.

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EstrellaTV offers a unique aggregation of Spanish-language programming, including national and local news shows, sports, entertainment, talk, reality, drama, and comedy, primarily produced in its Estrella Studios in Burbank, Calif.

Vizio users will also have access to Estrella News, the first dedicated group of local and national news professionals providing live news to Spanish-language audiences on a multiplatform basis. This objective is to bring live and breaking news, special assignments, and special reports, all produced in a shorter, more relatable news cycle that fits current consumer trends within the digital and streaming environments.

SmartCast is Irvine, Calif.-based Vizio’s operating system equipped on every new smart TV. The operating system provides users with home access to apps from Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and Peacock, among others. Vizio also has the ability to automatically push SmartCast updates to branded TVs.

“It is a golden period in home entertainment as evidenced by [the] tremendous growth and success in streaming and ad-supported VOD,” René Santaella, EVP of digital and streaming media for Estrella Media, said in a statement.

“The addition of EstrellaTV Network and Estrella News supports [our] commitment to providing robust and diverse content options to our millions of viewers,” added Katherine Pond, VP of business development for Vizio. “This is another excellent addition to our growing Spanish language content offerings and Spanish speaking audiences across the country.”