One of the perks of buying a shiny new smart TV in recent years has been access to dozens of free channels built into the TV’s operating system. Samsung TV Plus, LG’s XUMO-powered channels, and Vizio’s SmartCast app provide owners with a wide array of entertainment, and the TV manufacturers are continuously expanding their offerings. According to its own internal data, Vizio added 150 linear channels in 2020 and saw viewing on its smart TVs jump 20% for the year. Of the 17 million viewers who opted into Vizio’s study, 14 million acknowledged streaming their content from the SmartCast app.
Interestingly, although data from Interpret’s New Media Measure® shows Vizio TV owners to be less interested in sports than owners of Samsung, LG, TCL, or Sony owners, the No.1 programming streamed in 2020 on Vizio smart TVs, according to the company, was NFL football. This squares with Interpret data revealing 30% of Vizio smart TV owners following the NFL, far ahead of MLB, NBA, and other sports.
Vizio appears to be doubling down on its NFL following, as it recently added several sports channels to its array of free SmartCast content, including the NFL Channel, Pac-12 Insider, beIN Sports Xtra, and the CBS Sports App. With more and more viewers regularly streaming their content rather than accessing their programming via cable or satellite, it makes a lot of sense for TV manufacturers to pursue these content deals.
Advertisers who fear losing an audience due to the cable/satellite migration can look to the growing slate of ad-supported programming across smart TVs. In fact, AMC Networks recently launched five free ad-supported channels for Vizio’s SmartCast platform. Cinedigm added two channels to SmartCast, MyTime Movie Network and CONtv Anime, in January as well. This trend isn’t about to slow down anytime soon.