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Viewers Flock to Free Streamer VUit for Weather and High School Sports Content

Lauren Forristal

Viewership for free ad-supported VUit has tripled since its launch in the past year. What’s behind the big boost? News stories about the weather, climate-related events, and high school sports were the biggest topics in driving out-of-market viewers to local streaming newscasts in 2021.

Jack Perry, CEO, and Founder of Syncbak (VUit’s parent company) said, “On VUit, we are making it easy to get news where you are at, where you are from, where you are going and where news is breaking. As the viewers shift to OTT, we see it as our job to connect broadcasters, viewers, and advertisers, and the plan is clearly working.”

Recently, there was high engagement on the platform, with an average viewer streaming eight hours of content per month. Audiences from all states can tune into local programming from specific DMAs with more than 82% of local markets covered by the FAST service. Overall, VUit carries programming from approximately 200 stations covering 174 markets.

Data suggests that seven of the top nine most-watched news events on VUit were weather-related. This includes events like Hurricane Ida, which drove the most extensive viewership, plus the tornado event across many states on December 10, among other winter storms and West Coast fires, bringing the most viewers to tune into news streams outside of their location.

The second-highest on the list would be high school sports and high school graduations. For instance, WYMT Lexington, Ky., attracted audiences from almost 60 markets and Linn Mar High School’s graduation stream from KCRG Cedar Rapids, Iowa, reached 65 markets. However, the television station observed the most on VUit this year is KTSF San Francisco, which has existed for over 40 years.

Other most-watched stations were:

  • WFMZ Philadelphia – Maranatha Broadcasting
  • WWTV Traverse City, Mich. – Heritage Broadcasting
  • WAFB Baton Rouge – Gray Television
  • WVUE New Orleans – Gray Television
  • WKYT Lexington, Ky. – Gray Television
  • WSAZ Charleston/Huntington, W.Va. – Gray Television
  • WLUC Marquette, Mich. – Gray Television
  • KTUU Anchorage – Gray Television
  • WJRT Flint/Saginaw/Bay City, Mich. – Gray Television

The cities with the most viewers using VUit for local news content were San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Philadelphia, Traverse City-Cadillac, Wilkes Barre-Scranton-Hztn, Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, New York, Lexington, Flint-Saginaw-Bay City, Marquette, and Charleston-Huntington.

The notable sports events in terms of viewership and out-of-market viewers included the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which captivated viewers in 178 markets. In contrast, WYMT’s basketball coverage gained attention in 59 markets and Michigan’s all-star softball coverage (WWTV) reached viewers in 58 markets.

Perry spoke with AA about their plans for expanding live sports events numbers in 2022, “Our live local sports focus brings us viewers from all over the country to see content from other markets. We might have 10,000 live, local and exclusive events next year, and that will bring a whole new base of viewers.”

VUit

VUit is a free video streaming service that includes on-demand access to content produced by local TV news stations around the United States. Its partners include Lilly Broadcasting, Heritage Broadcasting, and Gray Television.

Whether you’re feeling homesick or whether you just want to see what’s going on in another part of the country, VUit can give you a window into several American communities.

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