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Week In Review: Univision Launches Prende, LG Revamps Its TV Interface

1. Univision Launches Prende

Univision announced the launch of Prende, its foray into the streaming wars this week. Prende will be a FAST, a free-ad supported service and will feature over 10,000 hours of programming along with 30 streaming channels.

Why It Matters

Univision is in some ways responding to its main Spanish-language competitor, Telemundo, which has set up shop on Peacock, with a number of streaming channels on the app (Telemundo in the US is owned by Comcast). 

They’re also responding to the reality that like everyone else, Spanish-speaking viewers are shifting their viewing to streaming and abandoning traditional pay TV. 

Making the service free allows for rapid adoption and also frees them from having to produce the sort of original content viewers have come to expect from subscription services.

More than that, it opens an additional outlet for advertising on streaming to an audience that is both very valuable to advertisers and hard to reach. The fact that Turner vet Donna Speciale was hired to run the ad sales team is a good sign that management understands the value of their consumers to advertisers.

Speaking of management, Univision was recently acquired by a private equity firm headed by former Viacom CFO Wade Davis  (they have a 64% share of the company) and it was Davis who helped build out Viacom’s FAST strategy, and so this is clearly his baby, for as Axios’ Sara Fischer reminds us, in late 2019, Univision’s former CEO stated they had no intention of building out a streaming service. Though to be fair, at this point, 2019 seems like a lifetime ago. 

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re an advertiser, this is a great way to reach Spanish-speaking consumers on streaming with the sort of targeted advertising that’s hard to pull off on linear.

If you’re Univision (and you may already be planning to do this) include an option for English subtitles on all your shows. I suspect there is an audience that would be very interested in much of the programming you have on offer, especially if it’s free, and you might even wind up with a cult hit. Regardless, it’s a fairly inexpensive way to increase the size of your audience.

2. LG Revamps Its TV Interface

As you’ve no doubt noticed, virtual CES has been something of a dud this year, at least in terms of announcements that concern the TV industry. One exception has been LG, which has rolled out transparent and rollable TV screens and a brand new operating system and interface for its smart TVs. 

Why It Matters

While the new interface has largely gotten favorable reviews, the key thing to note here is that LG is paying attention to its interface at all.

That’s important because smart TV OEM’s lack of attention to their interfaces led to the rapid rise of Roku and Amazon, as for just $29, viewers were able to access a user-friendly interface that included a much wider range of apps than were available natively on their smart TVs, one that could be regularly updated as well.

That’s all changing now however, as the big three OEMS–Samsung, VIZIO and LG have all dramatically improved their interfaces and added their own FASTs. The idea is to wean consumers away from their dongles. 

Roku wisely anticipated this and struck deals with TCL and other Chinese manufacturers to create TVs that use the Roku OS. Those TVs now dominate the U.S. market with a 38% share. 

Overall, we can anticipate more consumers using the native OS on their smart TV rather than a dongle and smart TV OEMs starting to create an ad market that counters the one created by ad-supported Flixes and FASTs. Roku may or may not be part of that market as they occupy a grey space of sorts, given their investment into The Roku Channel, but we’ll find out soon enough.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re a consumer, it may be time to check out the interface on your smart TV before you automatically attach the dongle.

If you’re a smart TV OEM, you’d do well to spend more time marketing your OS to existing users so they don’t automatically attach that dongle.

If you’re an advertiser, running ads on the smart TV OEMs FASTS will likely get you consumers you’re not reaching elsewhere.

If you’re Google, time to start striking deals with OEMs too, so you can get the Chromecast interface on TVs rather than on those Android boxes no one really wants.

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