Streaming Service VUit Announces Major Expansion of Hyper-Local News and Event Coverage Through New Deals with Hearst, Citadel, Morris Network and Others
New Agreements Add Over 70 Stations from Top DMAs including Boston, Baltimore, Orlando, and Pittsburgh to Platform and Helps Both Larger Station Groups, As Well As Independent Stations, Increase Audience and Open Additional Revenue Streams
VUit, (pronounced “view it”), a free, ad-supported national streaming service aiming to be the “Netflix of Live, Local, and Free,” today announced major agreements with eight station groups and independent stations including Hearst Television, Citadel Communications, Morris Network, and News Press & Gazette. Through these deals, VUit will add 71 stations to the platform from some of the nation’s largest markets including Boston, Baltimore, Orlando, Sacramento, and Pittsburgh. Beyond enabling VUit to expand their selection of hyperlocal programming, the deals also help this diverse roster of station groups both large and small, as well as independent stations, increase audience and grow advertising revenue opportunities well beyond their local markets.
The expansion comes at a time when VUit is seeing deep engagement on the platform with the average viewer watching more than eight hours of hyperlocal content per month. As the demand for hyperlocal news and content continues to increase, VUit has become the go-to streaming destination where viewers from everywhere can tune into local programming from specific DMAs with more than 83% of local markets now covered by the service.
With this brand new roster of top local news groups and stations joining the platform, VUit’s local news coverage increases to 174 out of 210 total local markets nationwide. The deals also further VUit’s mission in establishing itself as the true destination for local news and cultural content that has appeal well beyond the hyperlocal market. For example, VUit’s broadcast of the 2021 Iditarod Sled Dog Race from Gray TV’s Anchorage-based KTUU was viewed by consumers from 178 markets. Similarly, its stream of The Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial from Heritage Broadcasting’s Traverse City, MI-based 9&10News attracted viewers from 132 markets. This summer, 9&10News reached viewers from 58 markets with its stream of the Michigan High School All-Star Softball game and most recently, the kick-off to high school football in Iowa, streamed by Gray Television’s Cedar Rapids-based KCRG, reached viewers in 36 markets.
“VUit has enabled our local stations to reach viewers with not only live news and programming relevant to them, but locally-produced on-demand content that viewers from across the country tune into,” said Pat LaPlatney, Co-CEO & President at Gray Television, a major investor in Syncbak, VUit’s parent company. “We want every local station to be streaming on VUit. Viewers download the app to watch their local channel, and stick around to watch programming from local stations all across the country.”
Local stations will also benefit significantly from the agreement with VUit. Each member station will see increased advertising revenue opportunity from streaming ads on VUit’s platform, at no cost to the station. In this way, VUit creates new digital growth opportunities for local stations and empowers them to create a custom and unique viewing experience for audiences anytime, anywhere on any device.
Here are the recent national groups and locally-owned newsrooms that have signed on to be part of the VUit platform:
- National media company Morris Network now streams all six of its stations on VUit that come from across six markets including Lexington and Chattanooga.
- National broadcast group Hearst Television has stations in dozens of markets including Boston, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh, reaching 20% of all U.S. households. They are now streaming Very Local-branded channels from 27 markets on VUit including Boston, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh. WCVB in Boston is VUit’s first station in the market.
- WSNN, Citadel Communications’ Suncoast News Network, is a 24-hour news channel airing over 40 hours of live news each week in the Tampa market. The station’s content will now be available on VUit.
- Cox Media Group provides valuable local content to viewers in the communities in which it serves. The company’s operations primarily include 33 high-quality, market-leading television stations in 20 markets. Ten stations from ten markets including Atlanta, Seattle-Tacoma, and Charlotte have come to the platform as part of the recent deal with VUit.
- News Press & Gazette has stations in 10 markets across the nation. The station group has signed on to stream all 20 of its stations on VUit, including KRDO in Colorado Springs, the group’s largest market. KVIA in El Paso is also joining the platform, which will be a brand new market for VUit.
- Family-owned Bahakel Communications just signed on to deliver six stations from five markets to VUit, including its flagship station, WCCB in Charlotte. Other top markets include Columbia, SC and Myrtle Beach.
- Syncbak investor Gray Television has added another eight stations in eight markets through its purchase of Quincy, including Ft. Wayne, Peoria-Bloomington and Duluth-Superior.
- Marks Radio Group has signed on to stream two of its stations on VUit, including its flagship station WBKB from Alpena, Michigan, which serves the northeastern Lower Peninsula of Michigan.
- WFMJ Television in Youngstown is the only locally owned and operated station in the market, and one of the few still locally owned and operated stations in the country. The station broadcasts over 23 hours of live news each week and will soon begin streaming on VUit.
Jack Grdic, General Manager of WFMJ-TV in Youngstown said, “We are happy to become members of the VUit family. VUit levels the playing field, enabling us to reach viewers across the country live and on-demand.”
Jack Perry, CEO of Syncbak, VUit’s parent company, said, “We’re looking forward to working with these high caliber partners who create the kinds of content that in many cases appeals to viewers well beyond the local market. They are not only adding volume, but also quality that will enable VUit to continue to affirm its position as a top destination for hyperlocal programming.”