Vidgo chases Middle America cord-cutters with college sports, news

Startup media company Vidgo is overhauling every aspect of its flagship streaming television service to make it more attractive to customers in the heartland of the country.

This week, the service announced it will carry around 80% of all college football games available on television through its current programming partners, which include Paramount Global, Fox Corporation, the Walt Disney Company and Pac 12 Networks.

The announcement is intended to woo over cord-cutters in rural parts of the country by positioning itself as an affordable, streaming-based option for people who want access to live television programming in those regions.

"Our audience tends to be in rural areas of the country, so we're trying to package our programming that is popular with that audience," Derek Mattsson, the chief executive of Vidgo, said in an interview with Fierce Video ahead of the company's announcement. "College football is big everywhere, but if you look at the college football following in certain parts of the country, the viewing is much heavier, and that's our audience."

Vidgo originally launched in 2018 as a budget-friendly streaming service that offered affordable access to popular and unique entertainment, news and sports programming. The service was sold directly to customers through the Vidgo website, as well as in some brick-and-mortar prepaid phone retailers.

From its inception, the streaming service was so bare bones that customers couldn’t watch on-demand programming or record live channels. Still, the service struck a chord with customers in rural areas who wanted access to channels like the Pac 12 Network and the Longhorn Network, which were (and still are) hard to find on other streaming TV services.

Earlier this year, Vidgo decided to lean into the heartland demographic: The company halted all of its marketing efforts and quickly hired new executives to help reposition the service as one that offers programming of interest to Middle America at a price customers there can afford.

"Our audience likes to spend time outdoors, they go fishing, they hunt, they attend rodeos, they attend NASCAR events," Mattsson said. "That's the audience we are programming for."

That audience is also highly engaged with another cable television staple: 24-hour news. Vidgo already offers several cable news channels, including Fox News, Fox Business and ABC News Live. Mattsson said the company is currently engaged in conversations with other programming partners to expand its offering of news and information programming in the future.

"We'll have all kinds of news on Vidgo," Mattsson pledged. "Not just conservative news, but a wide variety of sources available." (Mattsson did not specify whom Vidgo was holding discussions with, but did say a news-related announcement was forthcoming.)

Programming is just one part of Vidgo's overall strategy for the future: The company recently relaunched the look-and-feel of its streaming service to incorporate new search and discovery technology that allows customers to sort through movies and TV shows by title, genre and even geography. Mattsson said the service will also recommend things to watch, with a specific focus on content that appeals to its rural customer base.

For advertisers, Vidgo will begin offering better the ability to dynamically insert advertisements into the linear channels it carries so that ad experiences can be tailored to each subscriber. In a statement, the company said its enhanced dynamic advertisement insertion technology will help increase return on investments for advertisement campaigns conducted through its platform.

In the coming weeks, Vidgo will roll out an updated app for supported phones, tablets and smart TV platforms with a new logo, color scheme and other tweaks that better align with the company's new strategy.

"We're not going to try to be everything to everyone; we really want to focus on giving our audience the programming they want at a price they can afford," Mattsson said.