VIZIO Adds Cord Cutting WatchFree TV Service to SmartCast OS
In a move timed perfectly with our own coverage of cable TV’s struggles to stave off cord cutting, VIZIO has announced a new partnership with Pluto TV that will bring the WatchFree TV service to nearly all SmartCast OS-enabled devices. The app-based WatchFree service providers users free and direct streaming access to more than 100 live and linear channels without the need for a set top box, cables, cords, antennas, or the added cost of a cable subscription.
Powered by Pluto TV, WatchFree will give SmartCast TV users free access to a selection of live channels that include news, sports, movies, TV shows, concerts, and more. The WatchFree service will be accessible through a dedicated input on the TV, which instantly brings the user to a cable-like interface.
“With the TV landscape continuously evolving, we’re excited to offer consumers a comprehensive entertainment solution packed with free and unlimited content offerings.” Bill Baxter, Chief Technology Officer at VIZIO, said in a statement.
If there’s anything holding back the majority of consumers who still subscribe to a traditional cable package from truly cutting the cord (raises hand) it’s the limited or obscure channels that they’d find via HDTV antennas or other services similar to what Pluto TV and VIZIO appear to be offering. The channel lineup for WatchFree, though, appears to be a little more robust than other nontraditional packages. WatchFree will include access to NBC News, MSNBC, Fox Sports, Bloomberg TV, CBSN, and a complete lineup of music and radio stations.
“Powering VIZIO’s WatchFree service is a pivotal next step in our goal to deliver free, premium entertainment to as many consumers as possible,” Tom Ryan, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Pluto TV, said in the statement. “From hit TV shows to blockbuster movies, news, sports, lifestyle, and more, WatchFree is a gamechanger for cord-cutting enthusiasts.”
Local channel access isn’t mentioned, though there are other freemium methods for accessing those stations; and so too is a more complete collection of sports channels. WatchFree, via Pluto TV, appears to have a Fear Factor channel, Pro Wresting TV, some extreme sports channels, a World Poker Tour channel, and a Big Sky Conference TV channel—and that’s about it. Two new pop-up stations will also launch featuring Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and Unsolved Mysteries, so there's that.
VIZIO’s intentions are certainly in the right spot with the WatchFree service though, and it’s clear that video streaming is well on its way down the cable-less path. So they should be applauded for jumping onto the bandwagon and giving potential customers a reason to give their smart displays a more serious look.