NEW YORK—The Gray Television-backed free ad-supported streaming service VUit has announced major agreements with eight station groups and independent stations that will dramatically expand its hyperlocal offerings.
The deals with such station groups as Hearst Television, Citadel Communications, Morris Network, and News Press & Gazette add 71 stations to the VUit platform from some of the nation’s largest markets including Boston, Baltimore, Orlando, Sacramento, and Pittsburgh. With the new stations, VUits local news coverage now includes 174 out of the 210 local markets nationwide.
The service’s expansion is part of its plans to become the “Netflix of Live, Local, and Free,” the streamer said. The expansion also comes at a time when VUit is seeing deep engagement on the platform with the average viewer watching more than eight hours of hyperlocal content per month.
“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 & president at Gray Television, a major 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.”
Jack Perry, CEO of Syncbak, VUit’s parent company, added that “we’re looking forward to working with these high caliber partners who create the kinds of content that in many cases appeals to viewers well beyond the local market. They are not only adding volume, but also quality that will enable VUit to continue to affirm its position as a top destination for hyperlocal programming.”
Beyond enabling VUit to expand its selection of hyperlocal programming, the deals also help station groups and independent stations, increase audience and grow advertising revenue opportunities well beyond their local markets, the company said.
The deals include:
- National media company Morris Network now streams all six of its stations on VUit that come from six markets including Lexington and Chattanooga.
- National broadcast group Hearst Television is now streaming Very Local-branded channels from 27 markets on VUit including Boston, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh. WCVB in Boston is VUit’s first station in the market.
- WSNN, Citadel Communications’ Suncoast News Network, has a 24-hour news channel airing over 40 hours of live news each week in the Tampa market that will now be available on VUit.
- Cox Media Group now has ten stations from ten markets including Atlanta, Seattle-Tacoma, and Charlotte on VUit.
- News Press & Gazette has signed on to stream all 20 of its stations on VUit, including KRDO in Colorado Springs, the group’s largest market. KVIA in El Paso is also joining the platform, which will be a brand new market for VUit.
- Family-owned Bahakel Communications just signed on to deliver six stations from five markets to VUit, including its flagship station, WCCB in Charlotte. Other top markets include Columbia, SC and Myrtle Beach.
- Syncbak investor Gray Television has added another eight stations in eight markets through its purchase of Quincy, including Ft. Wayne, Peoria-Bloomington and Duluth-Superior.
- Marks Radio Group has signed on to stream two of its stations on VUit, including its flagship station WBKB from Alpena, Michigan, which serves the northeastern Lower Peninsula of Michigan.
- WFMJ Television in Youngstown is the only locally owned and operated station in the market, and one of the few still locally owned and operated stations in the country. The station broadcasts over 23 hours of live news each week and will soon begin streaming on VUit.
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George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.