With so many streaming services available, keeping track of what shows or movies are available can be a daunting task. And if popular services like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon grab your attention, not all are in a position to subscribe to more than one. If this is your case, we will tell you what Pluto TV is, a free platform different from the traditional ones.
The freemium service combines live television with on-demand content that many subscribers might be interested in. As the source for all content on Vizio’s WatchFree service, it also offers an attractive collection of 250+ channels and thousands of free movies and shows for the very low, very low price of absolutely nothing (plus a few ads). Best of all, the service has only gotten better since it started rubbing shoulders with the major television networks. Let’s go to the details.
What is Pluto TV?
Owned by Viacom since last year, it is a live TV streaming service, similar to Sling TV, DirecTV Now, and Hulu + Live TV. But unlike those platforms, which offer access to channels that are on cable TV, Pluto TV offers free content, selected primarily from what is already available online.
This feature makes it a similar service to Rabbit TV , which costs $ 24 per year, with the difference that Pluto TV has been offered free of charge since its launch in 2014, which has allowed it to gain momentum quite quickly. The service already had more than 28 million active users about a year ago, making it the largest free television broadcast platform in the United States. These numbers can only grow, since it has been available in Latin America since March.
On Pluto TV, you’ll find content from well-known channels, as well as some that you’ve probably never heard of, if you don’t watch a lot of videos online. Even if you are subscribed to a live TV streaming service, you should definitely consider using this option, which is quite rich in content.
In March 2020, Pluto shook the market by introducing its new user interface, which makes it easy to discover and play content. The core of navigation is linearity, which allows you to jump to any of the main live TV categories: sports, movies, news, entertainment, comedy, with a maximum of one or two clicks. This philosophy extends to the video-on-demand interface, which offers funnier categories such as romantic comedies, while retaining the spirit of a traditional TV guide. In October, Pluto TV added new channels, including CMT Equal Play, The Bob Ross Channel, The Design Network, and a channel dedicated to Netflix’s Narcos show.
In addition, you can now specify your favorite channels to make it easy to find them in a list of more than 250, as well as save individual programs, clips and movies. If you choose something you want to see, Pluto offers you a preview panel to show more information such as the list of actors, directors and trailers.
How is Pluto TV different from WatchFree from Vizio TVs?
Basically, WatchFree is Pluto TV, although it is only included as such on Vizio TVs and works slightly differently than the app does on other devices. On Vizio TVs, WatchFree appears as an input, similar to how your cable box, a streaming device (like a Roku or Apple TV), or a game console would. All the programming that you will find in WatchFree is exactly the same, since Pluto is the one who covers that service. Apart from the name and some specific interface differences, most of what you are reading in this article can be applied to the Vizio WatchFree.
What channels are available?
You can quickly check out the content library of a free service, but there’s so much more to it, especially with 175+ content partners offering entertainment on 240+ channels. You will find some categories of regular programming such as news, sports, movies, entertainment and comedy, and you will also be able to enjoy other programs more related to the internet, such as the Chill Out, Life + Style and Geek + Gaming sections.
Although standard TV channels are not very popular on this service, you can find some that are represented through their web counterparts, such as Bloomberg, Cheddar, CNBC, MSNBC, CBSN, The Weather Network, and many others. Since April 2019, it has added to CNN, although not the signal you get by cable, but a channel with short-form digital content, with clips oriented towards lifestyle and culture, climate change, the environment and research. and original interviews. And in December 2019, he added CMT, Kevin Hart’s Laugh out Loud, and Red Bull alongside new themed channels, especially aimed at fans of pop culture and reality TV.
Sports coverage is less traditional. For example, it doesn’t offer channels like ESPN, but at least you’ll find options like Fight, World Poker Tour, Impact Wrestling, a network dedicated to Sports News, Glory Kickboxing, and the Big Sky Network. DAZN recently signed a deal for an original weekly series, but there is a possibility to expand this partnership in the future. In addition, it added an official channel of the PGA Tour, which provides 24/7 coverage of one of the largest golf tournaments.
In the entertainment section, reruns of reality shows and documentaries are included, such as episodes of Dennis The Menace , Thunderbirds and other older television shows. Among those various channels, you’ll also find Wipeout, a network that only shows reruns of the popular game show and various iterations from different countries, as well as Nosy, which shows reruns of The Jerry Springer Show and The Maury Show , among others. The Curiosity section features Science TV, Docu TV, Xive TV, and even a live broadcast from NASA. New additions include Pluto TV Sitcoms, which offers a selection of older sitcoms like 3rd Rock from the Sun and The Lucy Show , and a Spanish channel, Pluto TV Cine.
This type of hyper-focused network is part of the essence of Pluto TV, which also has Stand Up, a channel dedicated only to that type of comedy, Anime All Day and a channel dedicated to fails . Other similar channels include Slow TV, which shows relaxing images, Pluto TV Travel, and Cats 24/7, which are self-explanatory.
In June 2020, it incorporated the channels The FBI Archives, Babar, Animals, Romance Movies, Suspense Movies and Action Anime, where you can follow series like Naruto , Bleach and Death for free and legally . These are in addition to those that arrived in May 2020: Soccer for Fans, Home, Teens and Marathons.
There are also several internet radio stations, provided by Dash Radio, that you can find as a separate service. The more modern types of music such as hip-hop, electronic music and pop are the most prevalent, although stations are also available with classic rock, soul and jazz.
Recently, Pluto has been striving to increase its international presence. During its first year of operations in the United Kingdom, two specific British channels were added, and in August the free service reached 17 Latin American countries.
The same month, Pluto TV added more CBS content in addition to several new channels, including Dabl, Johnny Carson TV, Demand Africa, Three’s Company, The Rifleman, Loupe, Classic TV Comedy, Classic TV Drama, Western TV, Pluto TV Fantastic, Pluto TV Love Stories and Pluto TV Suspense.
What devices can I use to watch Pluto TV?
The service can be streamed through the web browser, but it also offers desktop applications for Windows and Mac computers, although it is important that you know that they can only be used in the US. Mobile apps are also available on iOS and Android devices, with separate US and international versions, offering different channels due to broadcast rights issues.
If you’d rather watch on your TV, don’t worry, because a number of devices including Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Android TV devices, and the PlayStation 4 also offer Pluto TV apps. Likewise, smart TVs from Samsung, Sony, and Vizio are supported, and the company’s website says more are on the way.
All the applications that we have tested show the same interface, without significant differences between the platforms, with one exception that we will see below.
What about ordering content?
Pluto TV’s on-demand offer has some television shows, especially TLC and Discovery Channel, although the vast majority of cases you will find movies.
The available content changes frequently and the service promises new hit movies every week. This constant rotation makes it difficult to know too far in advance what will and will not be available on a par with services like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video , in any case. The company has brought in big names, including a distribution deal with Sony that made Starship Troopers viewable on Pluto TV. Recently, we have seen titles like The Terminator , as well as a collection of James Bond films, including From Russia With Love and GoldenEye .Although it is not up to par with the quality of Netflix content, there are enough titles that could catch your attention and you may find a hidden gem.
On-demand content may not be available on all platforms, or at least not all content may be available. In our tests, both the TV and the movies were available on demand through most of the platforms we tested (Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, iOS, and Roku). The list excluded the PS4, but this has changed with recent updates.
Will Pluto TV stay?
At the moment, it doesn’t seem like Pluto TV is going anywhere. Its parent company, Viacom, has stated that Pluto TV is “a key driver of transforming our company for the future.” Unlike previous projects that aimed to provide shows – like Aereo, for example – Pluto TV seems to be careful not to disturb government agencies or other pay TV companies.
Although it is free, Pluto TV sells advertising on all channels and, judging from our experience, it seems that advertisers are buying more every day. With the Viacom team significantly driving marketing effortsfrom the platform, an even higher interest is expected from advertisers. Viacom recently reported that 3,500 were advertised during September 2019, the month with its highest revenue, and has tripled ad views every year. Pluto TV’s deal with Vizio to bring the WatchFree service now appears to be the first of many, as Viacom begins to introduce Pluto TV’s free offerings as an ideal way for cable and satellite companies to regain some of the audience that they are losing out on streaming services and cable cutters.
There is also some fear that Viacom’s merger with CBS could affect Pluto TV’s future, particularly when it comes to customer-facing monetization. While we’re confident we’ll see some changes, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish recently confirmed that Pluto TV will remain a free service, according to Cordcutters News. He even pointed to some corporate strategy, noting that he would use Pluto TV to sell more premium options, like CBS All Access.
Is Pluto TV Right For You?
The easiest way to find out is to download one of the apps on your platform of choice or head over to the company’s website and watch for a while. It won’t cost you anything but time, and given the breadth of the schedule, there are quite a few chances that you will find something you like.
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