Skip to main content

Vizio files to go public, has sold over 80 million TVs

Vizio files to go public, has sold over 80 million TVs


The company wants its SmartCast TVs to be ‘a bridge between you and everything the world has to offer’

Share this story

Image: Vizio

Vizio today filed its S-1 with the US Securities and Exchange Commission as the TV and soundbar maker heads toward an initial public offering. “We envision the Vizio smart TV as the center of the connected home — where families play games together, where friends watch movies together, where work and learning happen, and where all things in between take place,” Vizio founder, chairman, and CEO William Wang wrote in a letter that opens the S-1. “Going public is an important milestone for us as we continue to grow and execute our goals.”

The filing reveals that Vizio has sold over 80 million TVs and 11 million soundbars since the company’s founding. It sold 7.1 million TVs in 2020. Vizio’s TVs have long delivered performance and picture quality far above their price, though in recent years competitors like TCL have tried to outdo the company in this regard. “We will continue our successful hardware business, iterating on models as we’ve done before, and at the same time build our name in smart TV software,” Wang said.

The S-1 begins with Wang recounting his surviving a plane crash. “I ran to the front of the plane, forced open the emergency door and jumped out,” he said. “I’ll save you the messy details, but let’s just say that I am beyond thankful to be here today, writing you this letter.” According to Wang, his renewed appreciation of being home — and a desire to make it “everyone’s favorite place” — led to Vizio’s creation.

But the future is more so about software and platforms than it is about selling TVs, where the profit margins are often scant. Later in the filing, Vizio says:

While we generate the significant majority of our total net revenue from sales of our Smart TVs and sound bars, our Platform+ net revenue has grown 304.4 percent from $36.4 million in 2018 to $147.2 million in 2020. We believe that Platform+ will be the key driver of our future margin growth and financial performance.

“Platform+” refers to a combination of SmartCast (the software that runs on Vizio’s TVs) and Inscape, which is Vizio’s data, analytics, and content recognition subsidiary. The S-1 points out that the company continues to see huge advertising potential from its ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) services like WatchFree and Vizio Free Channel. It also sells ad space on the SmartCast home screen and gets a percentage of subscriptions and purchases made in third-party apps on its platform. Plus, Vizio charges streaming partners to put their logo on TV boxes or branded remote buttons. The company says there are currently over 12 million active SmartCast accounts. (Interestingly, Vizio also reveals there are 5.3 million internet-connected TVs still running its legacy software.

(Important background on Vizio’s data practices: the company agreed in 2017 to pay the FTC $2.2 million over charges that the company was tracking customer viewing habits without obtaining sufficient consent. Those same concerns also led to a $17 million class action settlement.)

Vizio P-Series 2016 review
Vizio tried to reinvent the TV experience in 2016 but has pulled back on some of those experiments.
Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

Vizio tried to completely reinvent the TV experience in 2016 by removing all built-in apps from its first SmartCast TVs. Instead, the TVs relied on “casting” content from entertainment apps on mobile devices. The company also briefly ditched the traditional TV remote control and packaged an Android tablet with those TVs. Both of these grand experiments were reined in a few years later, with Vizio again bundling popular apps on its TV platform (while retaining the same casting features as before) and switching back to a normal remote.

Risk factors in the S-1 are all pretty standard, though Vizio does acknowledge the sometimes fractious relationship between streaming app companies and platforms. “If we are unable to provide a competitive entertainment offering through SmartCast, our ability to attract and retain consumers would be harmed,” the document says.

Vizio says it envisions the future of SmartCast expanding beyond pure entertainment to include the following:

Communication: Engaging with social networks, using messaging services and accessing telecommuting features such as video conferencing.

Fitness and wellness: Connecting to interactive fitness and wellness services, such as personal training sessions and exercise tracking, from the comfort of their own living room.

Commerce: Browsing online shopping services, purchasing products featured on TV as part of dynamic ads and placing food orders on delivery services through voice control.

Community: Hosting virtual, integrated watch parties for the latest movie or the big game; watching live sports on TV will become an interactive experience through play-along gaming.

Dynamic entertainment experiences: Attending virtual concerts or sporting events offering viewer-controlled, multi-cam experiences.

Vizio has applied to list its stock on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “VZIO.”

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 24 Not just you

External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.

Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.

Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.

Andrew WebsterSep 24
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.

A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.

External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.

External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.