TelevisaUnivision plans ViX ad-supported tier

TelevisaUnivision plans to add an ad-supported tier to its Spanish-language streaming service ViX in the U.S. later this year.

Pricing and launch date details for the ad-lite subscription tier have not yet been disclosed. The debut will bring a third option to ViX, which already has advertising on a free fully ad-supported tier alongside a commercial-free premium subscription version that’s priced at $6.99 per month.

TelevisaUnivision rolled out a free AVOD version of ViX in early 2022, followed by an ad-free tier that July. Initially the two options were branded separately as ViX and ViX+, before a marketing pivot that brought both the SVOD and AVOD versions under the single ViX brand. At the time executives said the move was to address confusion in the market over the offering, as both versions are available within a single app. It now brands the free version ViX Gratis, while the ad-free version is ViX Premium. The upcoming offering is called ViX Premium with Ads.

ViX Premium with Ads will feature original series, movies, and live sports, available at a lower price point then the ad-free tier, “with a moderate ad load.” TelevisaUnivision’s ViX is the latest streamer to serve up a lower-cost subscription plan with ads – following the likes of Netflix and Disney+. At the end of the month ads are joining Amazon’s Prime Video service, with consumers having to opt in and pay an additional $2.99 per month if they want an ad-free experience.

CEO of ViX at Televisaunivision Pierluigi Gazzolo said in a statement that the company would be expanding access to its Premium ViX offering with the ad-lite launch, building on the success of the AVOD version and “strong SVOD subscription growth.”

Since launch, TelevisaUnivision has been expanding distribution of the ViX app and as of the end of September counted more than 40 million monthly active users across regions. The service is currently available in the U.S., Mexico and most of Spanish-speaking Latin America, with a presence across major mobile platforms, connected TV devices and retail partners. In announcing the forthcoming ad-lite tier, TelevisaUnivision said the ViX platform complements the programmer’s overall linear business.

“This tier will provide U.S. subscribers with more options to enjoy the full offering of our original productions and live sports at a lower price point, further enhancing the accessibility to our service," stated Gazzolo. "ViX Premium with Ads will extend the reach of our product to more consumers and create additional opportunities for brands to engage with our growing audience."

TelevisaUnivision in Q3 narrowed direct-to-consumer losses by nearly 60% and is targeting DTC profitability by the second half of 2024. During quarterly results it said the ViX Premium tier helped drive an 18% year over year bump in subscription and licensing revenue. That included 11% yoy growth in the U.S. to $330 million and 39% growth in Mexico to $143 million. TelevisaUnivision CEO Wade Davis in October also cited “very early momentum from the 3rd party licensing of our massive slate of new original ViX programming outside of our core Spanish-language markets,” an element the company expects to drive meaningful growth without fragmenting audiences in core markets.  

In expanding ViX’s presence the service has marked distribution deals with platform partners while also licensing content and launching free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channels featuring its Spanish-language programming on the likes of Samsung TV Plus.

In an earlier interview with StreamTV Insider, TelevisaUnivision EVP Adam Waltuch said the company was seeing a continued ramp in demand for its Spanish-language content and described taking a funnel approach to drive viewers to ViX programming across different touchpoints.

“No matter where consumers want to find us, no matter how consumers want to interact with us, we’re there,” said Waltuch, EVP of Global Distribution and Streaming Partnerships at TelevisaUnivision, in October.

It’s part of the thinking behind launching FAST channels that put content on third-party platforms, the executive explained - where it exposes viewers to the company’s breadth of Spanish-language programming and each different mechanism feeds each other, ultimately creating a pathway to TelevisaUnivision’s owned-and-operated subscription streaming services.

A premium ad-lite tier adds another layer to that funnel and brings the opportunity to generate more advertising revenue.

“You could have theorized that, hey, by having FAST channels you may cannibalize your own AVOD demand. And that hasn’t been true so far,” Waltuch said last fall. For more on the interview with Waltuch and ViX’s distribution strategy, read here.