Vizio moved up the launch of 30 new free linear streaming channels on its internet-connected SmartCast TVs, as viewing on surges during the coronavirus crisis.

As of April 7, Vizio SmartCast users can find 30 new channels, spanning news, entertainment, lifestyle, DIY, sports, comedy and music. The company had planned to start rolling them out later this spring but moved up the launches amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The channels include news and lifestyle content from USA Today and CBC News; entertainment news from TMZ and Hollywire; sports programming from USA Today Sports Wire and the Fubo Sports Network; cooking shows on Hungry and Food52; sci-fi content from FilmRise and Dust; documentaries on Magellan TVNow and Docurama; and cult classics on CONtv.

According to Vizio, the SmartCast viewing sessions increased 57% over the last three weeks of March and usage of free ad-supported apps and streaming TV services saw a 59% increase over the same period.

The new free streaming channels can be found under a “Free Channels” row on the SmartCast home screen. Those are in addition to Vizio’s WatchFree, powered by ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV, which features over 150 free streaming TV channels of news, movies, sports and more. Vizio has continued to bring new channels to WatchFree, recently launching Choppertown with biker documentaries and motorcycle movies.

In addition to free content, Vizio SmartCast provides access to apps including Disney Plus — which the TV marker added in February — Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube TV, NBC and CBS All Access. It also includes built-in support for Apple’s AirPlay 2 and Chromecast, allowing viewers to stream, control, and share content from their phone, tablet, or laptop directly to the big screen.

“More people are discovering our free content offerings and making them part of their daily routines right now,” said Mike O’Donnell, SVP of Vizio’s platform business. “We recognize the important role that TV plays in the home, especially when families are being asked to stay inside. It’s important for us to deliver popular content to consumers and we are focused on continually expanding additional free and premium options for our Vizio SmartCast TV customers.”

Connected-TV advertising spending is declining because of the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis, O’Donnell acknowledged. But, he added, “Right now, for us as a business, it’s less about the economics — and more about the user experience.”

Vizio’s SmartCast service is available on the TVs sold in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. The manufacturer has about 11.5 million registered SmartCast TVs.

Here’s the full list of new free channels on Vizio SmartCast:

  • Adventure Sports Network
  • Baeble Music
  • CBC News
  • CONtv
  • Divorce Court
  • Docurama
  • Dust
  • Fail Army
  • FilmRise Free Movies
  • FilmRise Sci-Fi
  • Food52
  • Fubo Sports Network
  • Hallypop
  • Hollywire
  • Hungry
  • Just for Laughs Gags
  • Latido Music
  • Law & Crime
  • MagellanTV
  • OutsideTV
  • People Are Awesome
  • Pet Collective
  • Qello Concerts
  • Reelz
  • Rifftrax
  • Stingray Ambience
  • The Design Network
  • This Old House
  • TMZ
  • USA Today
  • USA Today Sports Wire
  • WeatherSpy