Vizio puts smart TV home screen front-and-center at NewFronts

Vizio on Monday put the smart TV home screen front and center during its NewFronts pitch to media buyers and brands.

The smart TV maker didn’t make any new comments on stage about its pending $2.3 billion acquisition by retail giant Walmart.

As for the home screen, Vizio touted its capabilities to help content owners push programming while brands have an opportunity to participate in the viewing experience beyond traditional in-stream ad pods.

Like others, the smart TV maker highlighted the home screen as the entry point into TV viewing. Vizio counts 19 million monthly active accounts and during the presentation disclosed that Vizio users spend an average of 44 minutes every day on the home screen. On stage Vizio executives also boasted the home screen’s ability to fulfil a variety of KPIs for partners, be it tune-ins, ticket sales, or purchases.

“The smart TV home screen is the most valuable- mass reach vehicle in market right now,” said Adam Bergman, group VP of Advertising & Data Sales at Vizio, on stage. “Content and sponsorship integrations are bringing new learnings and execution paths into the CTV space.”

Specifically, Vizio execs summed up three home screen capabilities for brands: Point, promote and produce. For point, Vizio sees its home screen as a distribution vehicle to help point viewers to content and help media and entertainment owners expand their reach for discovery outside of their own apps. On the promotion side, it allows brands and programmers to promote timely or theme-based content within collections of titles from across streaming services, which can be customized to align with specific brand messaging or culture moments. Coca Cola, for example, last year provided a sponsored holiday hub for viewers that featured a library of free holiday-themed content.  

“Sponsorships are so much more than just a logo placement, they are opportunities to be integrated into the viewer journey,” said Allison Clarke, head of General Market, National Advertising Sales at Vizio, during the presentation.

This fall, Vizio is adding more video options for home screen sponsorships “with video becoming a part of the sponsored collection user flow,” Clarke added.  That also leads into the “produce” aspect through Vizio’s Branded Content Studio, which launched last year and is meant to allow advertisers to connect with viewers outside of the traditional ad pod with branded content. Last year Home Depot leveraged branded content through Vizio with a sponsored shoppable holiday-themed DIY series hosted by singer Jordin Sparks that was available and promoted on the smart TV home screen.

“We are your one-stop shop to produce, distribute and measure the impact of your content, from brand lift to foot traffic,” Katlyn Wilson, director of Branded Content Sales & Strategy at Vizio, told the audience. “In the era of fragmentation it’s more difficult than ever to find the right distribution vehicle…we give you a premiere living room environment, visible the moment that the TV is powered on.”

Gaming, newsroom and sports hub

Three new experiences are coming to Vizio home screens, focused on gaming, news and sports, that also provide opportunities for advertisers.

Wilson announced Vizio Gaming, a new home for gamers that offers a collection both built-in games and “thousands” of hours of gaming content. She noted that over 43% of Vizio users identify as gamers.

“Brands can join in the action with high-impact creative messaging woven throughout the environment,” she added.

Also coming to Vizio is “Newsroom,” which is available starting today, April 29, as an aggregated home to headlines, current events and election coverage. In addition, a “Vizio Sports Hub” is poised to join the platform later this. Wilson noted the difficulty for consumers and advertisers to know where to invest time and money in a fragmented sports landscape.

It’s meant to serve as an aggregation hub on the home screen so viewers can more easily find sports across services and platforms, with real-time scores, direct links to games and consumer ability to customize league and team preferences.

CTV competitor Roku in 2022 launched a Sports Experience on its platform that has the aim of easing sports discovery and promoting content from across services from a central point.

And Vizio isn’t the only one looking to capitalize on advertising opportunities through its TV home screen. Roku just last week pegged improved home screen monetization as a key area for platform revenue growth in 2025 and beyond.

Pause Ads on WatchFree+

Vizio is also expanding the types of CTV ad formats it offers on its WatchFree+ free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) service.

It’s already teed up interactive ad capabilities on WatchFree+ through an earlier partnership with Brightline and Nyma Quidwai, VP of Client Services & Inventory Partnerships at Vizio, on stage announced a new relationship with KERV Interactive. KERV has worked with a number of other streamers to introduce interactive and shoppable formats, including with NBCUniversal’s Peacock and free CTV streaming channels for music video network Vevo.

In a few weeks, Quidwai said Vizio will introduce its first-ever Pause Ads on WatchFree+. Signed on so far are beta partners, Inspire Brands, Dunkin, Sonic, Baskin Robbins and Warner Bros. Pictures.

“Pause ads truly offer your brand the ability to reach viewers in a brand-safe environment and allowing you to take a break from the action with a non-intrusive and creative message,” Quidwai commented.

Underpinning Vizio’s advertising and branded content offerings are first-party viewing data with its integrated Inscape automatic content recognition (ACR) technology from more than 23 million opted-in smart TVs.