Aiming to be The Netflix of Live, Local and Free, VUit to Launch with More Than 200 Participating Local TV Stations and Feature Live Local TV Feeds, Hundreds of Exclusive Live Programming Events Monthly and Curated Specialty Channels
Syncbak, the world’s leading platform for live local OTT, today announced the launch of VUit (pronounced “view it”), a new 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 Corporation, Cowles Media Company, Heritage Broadcasting Group, and Morgan Murphy Media. Through VUit, the launch partners will seize the huge opportunity 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 2500 “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 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 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, who is one of the most accomplished media technology pioneers. His Syncbak technology currently powers the OTT delivery of live local broadcast signals for Hulu, CBS All Access, and Fubo, and other major streaming players. He also created the TV industry’s first geo-fencing and subscriber authentication technology, Geneva,which revolutionized the way local TV signals were delivered to cable and satellite subscribers, followed by TitanTV, the first ever web-based electronic program guide .
“With VUit, we are turning the traditional network concept on its head. 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,” said Mr. Perry. “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, Inc. 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 leading digital properties in 94 television markets that collectively reach approximately 24 percent of US television 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).
Syncbak’s success with its proof-of-concept local news OTT platform SBTV has demonstrated the huge potential interest and value of its new VUit streaming service. SBTV proved to be a sticky destination, with viewers who discovered the platform coming back an average of 17 times each month, watching more than 30 minutes of content each visit over 7 hours a month. During the COVID-19 crisis, SBTV saw a huge increase in people tuning into its live streams of local stations across the country, as viewers looked to find local updates from markets to which they had connections. Additionally, stations that participated in the SBTV beta test and experimented with producing original hyperlocal events exclusively for distribution via SBTV have often garnered major audience engagement. One prime example is Heritage Broadcasting’s WWTV in Traverse City, MI, which livestreamed the entire 10 plus hour International 500 Snowmobile Race held in Michigan pre-pandemic. The event attracted viewers from 107 DMAs across the US as well as globally, with viewers watching over 420,000 minutes. Meanwhile, SBTV premiered Syncbak’s first short film acquisition in May, Backlash starring Joel Murray and Eliza Murray, which quickly became the most viewed piece of original on-demand content on the platform, attracting viewers from more than 115 DMAs.