Vizio starts rolling out updated home screen

Vizio is rolling out an updated smart TV home screen experience, which promises easier navigation and discovery, alongside enhanced personalization, as well as more immersive advertising opportunities.

Vizio announced the rollout Wednesday but already teased a preview and some of the upcoming features during the smart TV-maker’s NewFronts presentation in May. A spokesperson confirmed the enhanced Vizio Home Screen will start rolling out to most Vizio smart TVS, from the 2016 model year and later, over the coming weeks.  

On the user experience side, Vizio promised a more personalized experience with added built-in features and customization that makes it easier to find apps and browse movies and TV shows.

Vizio called out the following improvements to the user experience via the home screen:

  • More intuitive features: Vizio said there are refreshed menus, settings, and navigation features to make browsing easier, plus a redesigned virtual keyboard and genre pages that make searching for content easier and faster
  • Content discovery: The home screen will now feature built-in recommendations and also surface extra info such as Common Sense Media parental guidance and Rotten Tomatoes scores.
  • Customization: Vizio will now allow users to personalize their “App Row” with their favorite apps and also streamline movies and shows from different apps in a single location with a My Watchlist feature.

“The Vizio Home Screen is the next step in our evolution to bring our consumers the best entertainment experience. Our goal is to make it easy for our consumers to experience our latest innovations as soon as they are available, even on older Vizio Smart TVs,” said Kaitlyn Collins, VP of Product Marketing at Vizio, in a statement. “The rollout and availability of the new Vizio Home Screen is another manifestation of the idea that, even after consumers purchase a TV from us, we’ll continue to offer value, support, and innovation to their viewing experience.”

Also joining Vizio’s home screen this week is Allen Media Group’s The Weather Channel streaming app, which costs $2.99 per month and for a limited time Vizio users can try it for free for seven days.

For smart TV makers the home screen can be seen as prime real estate as it serves as the TV entry point for many viewers and gives Vizio an opportunity to leverage it for advertising, sponsors and other revenue-generating activities. In May, Vizio said time spent on the home screen increased 53% over the past six months as users spent more time browsing curated carousels and genre hubs.

During its NewFronts presentation, Vizio laid out how the so-called hero unit is the first stop for millions of customers when they turn the TV on, with new OS features that include autoplay video capabilities, deep linking directly into content or a storefront for movie purchases, along with abilities to integrate QR codes.

And at NewFronts Vizio talked up a “Discover, Reveal” row block, extending the hero unit to give advertisers multiple touchpoints and first ad spot positions, which Sean Booker, senior director of sales for Vizio’s media and entertainment verticals, said makes brands “an unmissable part of the search and discovery process.”

Vizio is also using the home screen as a key spot for its new Branded Content Studio unit, which was formed last month year to create data-informed programming that’s integrated with sponsor messaging, across various formats.