Vizio Files for IPO: TV Maker Had 12.2 Million Streaming Accounts at End of 2020

Todd Spangler
·3 min read

Value-oriented TV maker Vizio has filed to go public, revealing that its base of over-the-top streaming viewers in the U.S. grew 61% in 2020.

For the year ended 2020, Vizio reported total revenue of $2.04 billion (up 11% year over year) and net income of $102.5 million (up more the fourfold from $23.1 million in 2019), according to the company’s S-1 registration statement filed Monday.

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The company said its SmartCast smart TV operating system — which offers free content and access to OTT apps like Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus, Hulu, Netflix, NBCUniversal’s Peacock and YouTube TV — had 12.2 million active accounts at the end of 2020, up from 7.6 million a year earlier. Average revenue per user for SmartCast last year was $12.99 versus $7.31 in 2019.

“Our Smart TVs provide us with the opportunity to add consumers that are actively engaged with our SmartCast operating system, which in turn, expands our Platform Plus monetization opportunities,” Vizio said in the filing. While still a small piece of total revenue, the company’s Platform Plus segment revenue quadrupled from $36.4 million in 2018 to $147.2 million in 2020.

“We believe that Platform Plus will be the key driver of our future margin growth and financial performance,” Vizio said in the IPO filing.

It’s the second planned trip for Vizio to the public markets: It had filed for an IPO in 2015, before inking a $2 billion deal to sell the company to Chinese internet and consumer-electronics conglomerate LeEco in July 2016. That was scrapped in 2017 over “regulatory headwinds.”

Following the IPO, Vizio founder, chairman and CEO William Wang will maintain voting control over the company under its dual-class stock structure. About 25.5% of Vizio’s Class A shares are owned by Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn Technology.

Vizio, founded in 2002, said it has sold 82.2 million televisions (and 11.8 million sound bars) through the end of 2020. The company said it shipped 7.1 million smart TVs in 2020, up 20% over the previous year.

In its S-1 filing Monday, Vizio said its primary competitors are Samsung, Sony, LG, TCL and Hisense. In addition, the company said, “We face increased competition from a growing number of broadband-enabled devices” including Roku, Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV and Google Chromecast.

Vizio said to remain competitive, it needs to strike deals with media partners. When Disney Plus launched in November 2019, the app was not available for Vizio smart TVs, “which led to consumer dissatisfaction and complaints,” the company said in the filing. Vizio added Disney Plus to SmartCast TVs in February 2020. The company also noted that it does not currently have arrangements “with all of the popular content providers,” including WarnerMedia’s HBO Max.

In the IPO filing, Vizio listed $100 million as the proposed offering price but that was just for the purposes of calculating the SEC filing fee. The company plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “VZIO.”

“The principal purposes of this offering are to increase our capitalization and financial flexibility, create a public market for our Class A common stock, and enable access to the public equity markets for us and our stockholders,” Vizio said in the S-1 boilerplate. “We intend to use the net proceeds from this offering for general corporate purposes, including working capital, operating expenses and capital expenditures.”

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