Pluto TV Expands Its Content Orbit

Startup OTT service adds programming from Hulu, Shout! Factory
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Pluto TV, the startup behind a new ad-supported, curated over-the-top TV service, has been rapidly expanding its reach by supporting new platforms such as Android TV, and said it is now serving up “millions” of video views per month.

The online video distributor has also been expanding its vault of syndicated programming, thanks in part to a fresh batch of distribution pacts with Hulu, Shout! Factory, Jukin Media, Devin SuperTramp and Multicom.

Those partners are helping to fuel a new set of genre-based “channels” while also supplying content for Pluto TV’s existing lineup, which spans more than 100 channels, Pluto TV CEO Tom Ryan said. Pluto TV did not disclose specific business terms, but Ryan confirmed that the latest content deals center on ad-revenue sharing.

Hulu, the Web-TV hub co-owned by NBCUniversal, The Walt Disney Co. and 21st Century Fox, is powering some decade-specific channels (highlighting the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s), as well as a Kung Fu Movies channel and a Seinfeld channel. Among other examples, Pluto TV has launched channels dedicated to the cult favorite Mystery Science Theater 3000 franchise (Shout! Factory) and FailArmy ( Jukin Media).

‘LEAN-BACK’ CONTENT

The programming is also being made to fi t Pluto TV’s linear-style, “lean-back” approach.

Rather than offering up titles on an on-demand basis or using automated algorithms that spit out viewing suggestions, Pluto TV’s channels are curated and programmed by real people and packaged into channels tailored to suit specific genres, topics or individual artists, including Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Steve Jobs, news, kickboxing, soccer, independent films, anime, Star Trek or Joss Whedon shows. Pluto TV even offers channels that stream out titles in the eye-popping 4K format, as well as some networks that you’d find on regular pay TV services, including Bloomberg Television and QVC.

The goal “is to combine traditional and digital content in an easy-to-use, lean-back TV experience,” Ryan said. “These partnerships really go a long way to deliver on that promise … We’re big believers in the value of human curation and programming, as well as linear delivery.

“The power of a real expert curator and his or her ability to guide and deliver a great entertainment experience can’t be underestimated in this digital age,” he added.

While video-on-demand is a “fantastic way of consuming content when you know what you want to watch,” Ryan said, Pluto TV taps into a model that has “made television such a powerful and compelling medium over the decades.”

So far, Pluto TV has resisted the temptation to develop subscription video services. “We’re focused on being a free, ad-supported service today,” Ryan said.

BEYOND CORD-CUTTERS

Though Pluto TV, which launched in March of 2014, is delivered over-the-top, it’s resonating with a broad spectrum of viewers, not just cord-cutters and consumers who have never subscribed to traditional pay TV.

“There are plenty of people who have cable [TV] subscriptions who are finding what we’re doing interesting, because a lot of the content that we’re curating and delivering to them is the type of stuff that complements their existing subscriptions well,” Ryan said, noting that the service is now “delivering millions of video views per day.”

Pluto TV, which landed a $13 million A round of funding last November, currently supports several platforms, including Web browsers, iOS and Android devices, Google’s Chromecast adapter, Amazon’s Fire TV box and Fire TV Stick, and Android TV-powered devices such as the Nexus Player.

Pluto TV, the startup behind a new ad-supported, curated over-the-top TV service, has been rapidly expanding its reach by supporting new platforms such as Android TV, and said it is now serving up “millions” of video views per month.

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