By Mark K. Miller | September 1, 2020 | 9:26 a.m. ET.
Aiming to be “The Netflix of Live, Local and Free,” VUit is doubling down on the power and potential appeal of hyperlocal live content both regionally and nationally. VUit’s initial launch partners include more than 200 television stations. Syncbak also announced that Gray Television has made a “significant additional investment” in the company.
Syncbak, a global platform for live local OTT, today debuted VUit (pronounced “view it”), a free, ad-supported national streaming service built in partnership with leading local television station groups. Aiming to be “The Netflix of Live, Local and Free,” VUit expects to stream more than 3 million hours of live programming annually featuring a wide range of local, regional and special interest programming produced by leading television stations from across the country, along with thousands of VUit Originals.
VUit’s initial launch partners include more than 200 television stations owned by Gray Television, Meredith Corp., Cowles Media Co., Heritage Broadcasting Group and Morgan Murphy Media. Through VUit, the launch partners hope to significantly grow their online audiences and better capture an outsized proportion of digital advertising revenue.
Each participating station has committed to produce and stream at least 12 live events a year exclusively for VUit — from sports, concerts and cultural events to news specials, yielding at a minimum nearly 2,500 VUit Originals per year. VUit is now available on all major streaming platforms and devices, including iOS and Android devices, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, AppleTV and more.
With VUit, Syncbak says it is doubling down on the power and potential of hyperlocal live content. The current pandemic has underscored the true importance of and interest in local television news and local events — well beyond just the viewers a station traditionally serves. Syncbak said it believes its streaming service’s mix of live local linear channel feeds and exclusive content will “super serve the needs of local audiences, and more importantly offer a huge array of programming with national audience appeal.”
VUit will be powered by arguably the largest local news gathering collaboration and supported through those companies; local ad sales teams. Participating stations can work together to promote each others’ VUit Originals and sell against them locally using Syncbak’s proprietary live DAI (dynamic ad insertion) technology adSync. From a promotional standpoint, stations are incentivized to market VUit on-air during TV newscasts as they reap significant advertising benefits from driving the streaming platform’s viewership.
The new streaming service is headed by Syncbak founder and CEO Jack Perry. His Syncbak technology currently powers the OTT delivery of live local broadcast signals for Hulu, CBS All Access, Fubo and other major streaming players. He also created the geo-fencing and subscriber authentication technology, Geneva, which changed the way local TV signals were delivered to cable and satellite subscribers, followed by TitanTV, a web-based electronic program guide.
“With VUit, we are turning the traditional network concept on its head,” Perry said. “Broadcast networks are built top down with the national feed as the core lens to the world. Meanwhile, VUit is grassroots up, enabling viewers to see what is happening in every community — and everyone has connections to other towns and cities. The way we see it, VUit is the perfect complement to the binge culture. After you binge, you come to VUit to enjoy the best of local news, sports and culture from anywhere you want.
“And from a business standpoint, the platform provides local television media from across the nation the best opportunity to thrive in the streaming space, unlocking the limitless potential for local stations to grow their audiences both locally and nationally and capture significant digital advertising revenue.”
Syncbak also announced that Gray Television has made a significant additional investment in the company. The investment will assist Syncbak’s execution on its plans for the widespread distribution and adoption of VUit. Gray owns television stations and digital properties in 94 television markets that collectively reach approximately 24% of U.S. TV households, as well as video production businesses including Raycom Sports, Tupelo-Raycom and RTM Studios.
In addition to station specific channels, VUit will feature themed curated channels, such as a political channel Politics Uncut, built using Syncbak’s autobuild technology and programmed and populated with content from across all the participating stations. This will help viewers more easily discover content of interest to them.
Syncbak will also invest in original programming “that further serves local audiences and has universal appeal.” This includes a daily business show, Business First A.M., food culture show Food.Curated and music video channel, Fly Over Music (spotlighting music acts who are based in what are colloquially referred to as “fly over” states).
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