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VIZIO SmartCast Platform Increased to 12.3 Billion Streaming Hours, As Company Files For IPO

Jeff Kotuby

VIZIO’s SmartCast operating system is driving the TV manufacturer to go public.

VIZIO revealed its U.S.-based over-the-top streaming viewers grew 61% in 2020, ending the year with 12.2 million active accounts. Average revenue per user topped out at $12.99 per streamer versus $7.31 in 2019.

In 2020, total SmartCast Hours increased 173%, to 12.3 billion hours, representing a 54% increase in SmartCast Hours per Active Account. According to VIZIO, SmartCast users spent more time on their SmartCast TVs streaming on the SmartCast platform than any other activity. VIZIO credits the SmartCast’s, “broad content offering and easy-to-use interface” when citing the platform’s growth.

VIZIO also cites its own WatchFree and Free Channels as an untapped opportunity to increase engagement — and profits. “User engagement on our platform is an essential revenue driver since it directly influences our attractiveness to advertisers, the largest near-term monetization opportunity,” VIZIO said in their S-1. “Therefore, our ability to attract compelling content viewers want to consume on WatchFree and VIZIO Free Channels is critical to our monetization.”

WatchFree is a joint venture between VIZIO and Pluto TV, where SmartCast users can view 24/7 feeds of any genre they desire, including news, sports, television, movies, comedy, entertainment, and more. VIZIO Free Channels exist independent, though complimentary, of WatchFree and consist of channels like USA Today, TMZ, Food52, and more.

In addition to VIZIO’s own WatchFree and VIZIO Free Channels, VIZIO SmartCast users can access Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Peacock, HBO Max, discovery+, and more right from their VIZIO Smart TV.

This is the second time VIZIO has intended to go public: It filed for an IPO in 2015 but never completed the process. VIZIO then agreed to a $2 billion deal with Chinese internet and consumer-electronics conglomerate LeEco in July 2016. The deal fell through in 2017.

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