Vizio Upgrades Content, Navigation, Discovery for WatchFree

Vizio refreshed its WatchFree+ streaming service (that now sports a plus sign) with a new look, customized recommendations and new navigation features to improve search and discovery. Also on tap is a programming guide with hundreds of free channels across multiple genres and a “featured” category for seasonal content, themed collections, pop-up channels for limited time programming and Vizio-exclusive custom-curated channels including Fork and Flight for food and travel and Investigation for true-crime shows.

The Verge reports that, “users with Vizio’s voice-enabled remote can navigate the program guide that way, or the guide can be voice-navigated through the SmartCast Mobile for iOS and Android.” Vizio stated that “its free and ad-supported streaming service is one of the top content sources on its SmartCast TVs.”

Data about WatchFree habits are “core to its ad business… [but] users who wish to opt-out of Vizio’s data collection about watch habits or delete viewing data can do so from the ‘reset and admin’ menu from their system settings.”

Vice president of business development Katherine Pond said “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.”

Next TV reports that the “live, local and linear channels” all sit “on Vizio’s own SmartCast interface, which competes with the likes of Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV devices, and the proprietary interfaces of its direct competitors, TV makers such as Samsung, Sony and LG.” Inscape, its in-house analytics unit, provides Vizio with data to help “speed up the interface, now more easily navigated with its new voice-operated remote.”

It notes that WatchFree+ rivals are also improving their offerings. Redbox Entertainment, for example, “just announced its FAST service is expanding a slate of original films, with a true-crime thriller starring Josh Duhamel, Elisha Cuthbert, and Mel Gibson … [and] Fox’s Tubi also announced last week that it had signed an exclusive AVOD window with STXfilms for a slate of films, including a documentary.”

Vizio ranks No. 3 in U.S. market share, already reaching 13.4 million households with SmartCast. In comparison, Amazon Fire and Roku reach 50+ million households each. Vizio chief revenue officer Mike O’Donnell spoke to advertisers when he said that, “by knowing what viewers are watching, we can make informed decisions on the types of content that will resonate best and ensure that we deliver the right content to the right audiences.”

For more information on Vizio’s WatchFree+, click here.