Golf-lifestyle network Golf Nation has launched its first free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channel, debuting on Vizio’s WatchFree+ FAST service.
Golf Nation programming will be available as a free streaming linear channel (612) on the WatchFree+ service, as well as on-demand. Initially available on the web with on-demand content at GolfNation.com, the network touts itself as the first producer of golf lifestyle shows that enables viewers click an on-screen “buy bar” to purchase products they see without leaving the stream. Shoppable capabilities for Golf Nation don’t yet extend to Vizio smart TVs or the FAST channel, a Vizio spokesperson confirmed to StreamTV Insider.
Still, in the announcement Golf Nation CEO and Chairman Nick Buzzel touted distribution on Vizio as helping brand partners that sell featured products.
“Thanks in large part to Vizio, Golf Nation will boast one of the largest golf-oriented audiences in the U.S.,” stated Buzzell in the announcement. “The significant distribution lift excites our brand partners who authentically sell products featured in our shows.”
As for content, Golf Nation’s first season of original shows, produced by NBTV Studios, range from five to 30 minutes and include the following:
- Ambush with David Feherty, a hidden camera show starring the golf figure
- Three Courses, a travel show focused on where to play, eat and drink with influencers Gabi Powel and Hannah Leiner
- Golf Unseen, focused on exotic golf locations with culture experiences
- Tee shots, a series touting “drink, chat, swing, repeat” hosted by mixologist Bill Binder
- Versus, a show where rotating golf celebrities and influencers compete head to head
At launch Golf Nation is also taking advantage of Vizio’s home screen opportunities to promote its content.
“We are excited to premiere Golf Nation’s line-up of curated content on Vizio Smart TVs,” said Greg Barnard, director of Content Acquisition at Vizio, in a statement. “And thanks to a major brand sponsor of the channel, Golf Nation will be featured on the Vizio Home Screen at launch, helping Vizio users discover live and on demand content at the beginning of their TV viewing experience.”
Vizio’s home screen and WatchFree+ service has been helping fuel a growing advertising business for the company. Despite smart TV sales declining in Q2, Vizio marked 35% advertising revenue growth in the period.
"With strong demand for our advertising inventory, driving user engagements specifically within our ad-supported content such as our own WatchFree+ app remains a key lever in our growth opportunity," said Vizio CFO Adam Townsend during the company’s Q2 earnings call in August. Vizio is scheduled to report Q3 earnings on November 9.
As for Golf Nation, the service is the product of NBTV Channels and NBTV Studios. In addition to the web and now WatchFree+, Golf Nation shows are also all available on its Android app and on sister channel Spirits Network. It plans to make shows available on Golf Nation iOS app, Apple TV and additional streaming services in coming months. Spirits Networks utilizes a similar format as Golf Nation and the company said more than 60% of Spirits Networks viewers indicate a passion for golf.
In addition to expanded distribution for Golf Nation, the addition to Vizio expands sports programming available on the smart TV platform. Earlier this month Vizio added the NFL app on its smart TVs, in addition to availability of the league’s direct-to-consumer streaming service NFL+. And Vizio’s WatchFree+ FAST service boasts a free linear streaming NFL Channel, offering NFL recaps, classic games and shows, as well on-demand programming. The recent expanded partnership also included the NFL’s forthcoming integration into Vizio’s subscription management service, Vizio Account, which debuted in 2022 to help users subscribe, track payments and manage multiple streaming services in one place.