VIZIO WatchFree+ has doubled its content offer in the last year to deliver 275+ channels and over 15,000 on-demand TV shows and movies. New deals with BBC Studios, Magnolia Pictures and Paramount Global Content Distribution contribute to the rapid growth.
WatchFree+ is exclusive to VIZIO Smart TVs in the U.S. The latest distribution agreements are part of an aggressive expansion strategy for free premium content during 2023 and the impact is being felt in monthly viewing hours. Every month since May, viewing on WatchFree+ On Demand has been at least double the figure it was in the equivalent month for 2022.
“This has solidified WatchFree+ as the second most-watched ad-supported streaming service on the VIZIO platform,” the company reports.
BBC Studios, Magnolia Pictures and Paramount Global Content Distribution are joining a line-up of more than 20 studios and media companies distributing via WatchFree+. The others include A24, AMC Networks, Disney Entertainment, Lionsgate, MarVista Entertainment, NFL Media, Relativity Media, Samuel Goldwyn Films and Sony Pictures.
The latest deals include:
- More than 400 on-demand episodes showcasing 30 BBC shows, and a selection of BBC Studios’ free channels including Antiques Roadshow UK, BBC Food and Top Gear. Classic Doctor Who is coming soon.
- Select Paramount Pictures titles that are being made available every month until the end of the year. Various movies from the Star Trek franchise including ‘Star Trek: (The Motion Picture)’, ‘Star Trek: First Contact’ and ‘Star Trek: Insurrection’ are airing in November. So too is ‘The Untouchables’.
- Fifty movies and 50 episodes from Magnolia Pictures, including popular titles like ‘Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop’, ‘Bad Reputation’ and’ I Give It a Year’.
The reference to personalisation and localisation partly relates to a new geo-filtering feature that automatically displays live regional news, weather and sports across 40 local channels from Cox Media Group, FOX, and Gray TV.
Other recent developments on WatchFree+ include:
- The release of the latest holiday premiere, ‘Merry & Bright’, hosted by American Idol's Jordin Sparks. This content is supplied by VIZIO Branded Content Studio.
- A new VIZIO-curated FAST channel on WatchFree+, called Free Movie Network.
- The addition of the golf-lifestyle FAST channel Golf Nation from NBTV Channels, together with on-demand content. Golf Nation content was initially previewed in December 2022 as ad-free VOD at GolfNation.com. VIZIO Smart TV users will be the first to stream it free. NBTV Studios is producing episodes of 5-30 minutes including ‘Versus’ – where rotating golf celebrities and influencers compete head-to-head.
Unlike a growing number of Smart TV offers, the VIZIO OS/UX is only available on VIZIO hardware, and the FAST/AVOD offer (WatchFree+) is also exclusive to VIZIO Smart TVs in the U.S. Doubling of on-demand viewing year-on-year represents impressive growth in engagement.
While BBC Studios and Paramount Global are the big names that catch the eye, the deal with NBTV Channels for Golf Nation illustrates what Smart TV brings to the party for smaller content owners. The move onto WatchFree+ has helped the golf lifestyle brand move from owned-and-operated to third-party distribution. It means Golf Nation is now monetising its service via advertising.
Thanks to a brand sponsor of the channel, Golf Nation will be featured on the VIZIO Home Screen at launch, to help with content discovery. And with that discovery, it is hoped, comes an existing consumer base interested in golf.
Nick Buzzell, Chairman and CEO of Golf Nation, certainly believes so. When announcing the deal, he said that, “Thanks in large part to VIZIO, Golf Nation will boast one of the largest golf-oriented audiences in the U.S.”
That creates a virtuous circle, with Buzzell adding that the significant distribution lift excites our brand partners who authentically sell products featured in our shows.”
VIZIO gets new curated golf content. The bottom line is that, in a world where more content than ever can be brought to market to super-serve all tastes (thanks to the low barriers to entry with streaming), everyone is a potential winner from Smart TV distribution deals like this (consumer, channel, advertisers, platform).
Photo: WatchFree+ on VIZIO.