Broadcaster-backed VUit bulks up on local news channels

Syncbak’s VUit, a free ad-supported streaming platform for local television, is building up its lineup through a handful of new deals with broadcasters.

Through new agreements with Hearst Television, Citadel Communications, Morris Network and News Press & Gazette, VUit said it will add 71 stations to the platform from markets including Boston, Baltimore, Orlando, Sacramento and Pittsburgh. 

VUit said it is seeing more engagement on the platform with the average viewer watching more than eight hours of content per month. The service now offers local programming from specific DMAs with more than 83% of local markets and its local news coverage has increased to 174 out of 210 total local markets nationwide.

“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 and president at Gray Television, an 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.”

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VUit launched late last year with initial partners including more than 200 television stations owned by Gray Television, Meredith Corporation, Cowles Media Company, Heritage Broadcasting Group and Morgan Murphy Media, and added Cox Media stations in September. The service includes curated channels assembled using autobuild technology from Syncbak.

Local news has been popping up on many free linear streaming services lately. Last month, Redbox Free Live TV reached its first local broadcast news agreement with Cox Media and Amazon Fire TV expanded its live and on-demand local news service from 88 to 158 major cities across the U.S. Tubi, which is owned by Fox, earlier this year said it had grown its local news offering to nearly 100 feeds from partners including Cox Media, Scripps and Tegna. And broadcast groups like Sinclair and Hearst have launched streaming platforms that provide access to their local broadcast news content.