Hexbyte – Science and Tech Vizio is launching a free streaming service and giving it its own TV input

Hexbyte – Science and Tech

Vizio is partnering with Pluto TV to add a free video streaming service, called WatchFree, to “nearly all” of the company’s SmartCast televisions. WatchFree will get its own dedicated input, so it’ll have nearly the same prominence as your HDMI inputs and the main SmartCast screen. WatchFree is rolling out starting today.

When you switch over to it, you can browse between “more than 100 live and linear channels” covering TV shows, movies, news, sports, concerts, and “viral videos,” according to Vizio. (Did you see that one of the dog running around with the GoPro? Real good.)

“WatchFree offers an unrivaled, free viewing experience with endless entertainment options at the forefront,” the company said in its press release. But “endless” doesn’t necessarily translate to great. Take those expectations down a notch. Some of the channels advertised as part of WatchFree include:

  • Pluto TV Movies
  • Action Movies
  • Black Cinema
  • News 24/7
  • NBC News/MSNBC
  • Fox Sports
  • Frontdoor
  • Cats 24/7
  • Crime Network
  • MST3K
  • The Surf Channel

Those NBC and Fox channels aren’t the actual cable networks, mind you; they’re different versions created for OTT services. “Coming soon” to WatchFree are two channels dedicated entirely to Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and Unsolved Mysteries, the creepy ‘90s series hosted by Robert Stack. Apparently there was also a rebooted version hosted by Dennis Farina, but I don’t acknowledge that and neither should you. One thing of note is that you can’t pause or rewind WatchFree; it’s live/linear, and that’s all.

While it’s to be expected for the price of free (with ads), WatchFree is several rungs below cable and subscription-based internet TV services in programming quality. It’s definitely a few steps better than the strange extra channels you get from a TV antenna, though. And if you’re a fan of one of those pop-up channels for MST3K or Kitchen Nightmares, it makes for easy marathon-viewing.

Vizio is by no means trying to position WatchFree as your new favorite streaming destination. More than anything else, it’s sort of a fallback for cord cutters who feel like venturing someplace new for a thing to watch — outside of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and other apps that can be casted to Vizio’s sets. Data collection on user viewing habits might be a concern to some given the company’s history, however.

If you have zero interest in streaming WatchFree, there’s a way to remove it from your TV’s inputs. Here’s how to do that:

1. Press Menu

2. Select “Input Settings”

3. Select “WatchFree”

4. Select “Hide From Input List”

5. Press the right arrow to change to “Hidden”

But maybe it’s worth doing some channel surfing before deciding. Below, I’ve included the entire, very long list of WatchFree channels that are available at launch. Here we go:

11

70’s

80’s

90’s

Action Movies

Adventure TV

Anime All Day

Awesomeness TV

Big Sky Conference

Black Cinema

Bloomberg TV

Business News 24/7

Cats 24/7

Cheddar

Classic Movies

Classic TV

Clevver

CNBC

CNET

Cool

Cracked

Dash 1

Dash Alternative

Dash Indie

Discover

Docu TV

Doggystyle

DramaFever

Electro City

Euphoria

FailArmy

Fight

Flicks of Fury

Food TV

FOX Sports

Frontdoor

Fuego

Geek & Sundry

Glory Kickboxing

HIVE

IGN

IMPACT Wrestling

Internet Gold

JASH

La Isla

LittleThings

Live Music Replay

Loud

Love Songs

Main Stage

Man Up

MinecrafTV

Monstercat

Monstercat

Moonlight

Mystery Science Theater 3000

NASA TV

NatureVision

NBC News | MSNBC

Nerdist

New Detectives

News 24/7

Newsmax

Nosey

People TV

Pluto TV Cars

Pluto TV Her

Pluto TV Movies

Pluto TV Movies 2

Pluto TV Sports

Popsugar

Pure Soul

Ratpack

Red Cup

Reggae King

Rifftrax

Science TV

Shout! TV

Sky News

Slow TV

Sports News

Stadium

StandUp TV

Subdustrial

The Bridge

The City

The Cross

The Feed

The Oldies

The Onion

The Strip

The Surf Channel

The Young Turks Network

Today’s Top Story

Top Stories by Newsy

Vibes

What the Funk

WHAT?!

Wipeout

World Poker Tour

Xive TV

Y2K

Read More