Pluto TV Joins Comcast’s X1 Platform

Viacom’s online ad-supported TV service Pluto TV June 13 announced it has launched on Comcast Cable’s Xfinity X1 platform.

Pluto TV, which is already available on Comcast’s Internet-only $5 monthly Xfinity Flex service, joins Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video reaching the cabler’s cloud-based X1 subscribers.

“The launch of Pluto TV on Xfinity X1 is a pivotal moment for Pluto TV, expanding our reach to a whole new audience in search of free streaming entertainment,” Tom Ryan, CEO and co-Founder of Pluto TV, said in a statement. “Pluto TV is the perfect complement to the X1 platform, delivering a rich lineup of original live channels and on-demand movies and TV shows to Comcast’s customers right where they enjoy the rest of their entertainment experience.”

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The AVOD service would appear to complicate Comcast’s planned launch of an NBC Universal branded SVOD/AVOD service to subscribers in 2020. The ad-free version would be available to non-subs and priced comparable to Hulu and Netflix, or $9 to $14 monthly.

Regardless, Pluto TV, with 150 content partners, features movies: Pluto TV Movies 1 & 2and DramaComedyFamilyIndiesRomanceDocumentariesThrillersCult FilmsHorror 24/7Action MoviesFlicks of FuryThe Asylum, and Black Cinema.

News with Today’s Top StoryNews 24/7Cheddar NewsTYT NetworkNewsmaxTVTop Stories by NewsySky NewsBloomberg TV and WeatherNation.

Sports with Pluto TV SportsFox SportsMLS,Impact WrestlingFightCombate WorldStadiumSurf ChannelSports NewsWorld Poker TourCombat GoLucha Libre AAA, and Big Sky Conference.

Comedy with Funny AFPluto TV SitcomsStand Up TVMST3K,RifftraxFail ArmyCats 24/7The OnionCracked and Pet Collective.

Gaming with The FeedHiveAnime All DayAnime All AgesMinecraftvIGNGeek & Sundry and Nerdist.

Entertainment through the Crime NetworkThe New DetectivesUnsolved MysteriesForensic FilesDog the Bounty HunterPluto TV ConspiracyPluto TV AnimalsCold Case FilesShout TVBuzzrClassicTV,ConTVWipeoutKids TV, After School CartoonsClassic ToonsAwesomeness TVNoseyWhat?! and RevryMTV Pluto TVParamount (PZG) Movie Channel, Comedy Central Pluto TVSpike Pluto TVPluto TV LogoBET Pluto TVNick Pluto TV and Nick Jr. Pluto TV – all featuring iconic, hit shows from Viacom’s deep library.

Lifestyle content with Pluto TV CarsPeople TVGordon Ramsay’s Hell’s KitchenComplex NetworksWahlburgersPluto TV HerPluto TV Her DramasPluto TV TravelPluto TV WeddingsFrontDoorAdventure TVFood TV and Faith TV.

Curiosty with Voyager DocumentariesScience TVPluto TV HistoryDocuTVPluto TV BiographyLaw & CrimePluto TV Military and NASA.

Pluto TV Inks Streaming Video Deal with Cox Contour

Viacom-owned Pluto TV June 4 announced a distribution deal on Cox Contour.

The Pluto TV app will soon be available to Contour and Contour Stream Player, enabling the Atlanta-based pay-TV operator’s subscribers access to more than 100 channels of on-demand ad-supported movies, television series, sports, news, general entertainment, lifestyle, comedy, cartoons and gaming.

With over 150 media partners, Pluto TV’s platform ferstures a curated lineup of premium programming, including an all-new slate of Viacom channels featuring TV shows from MTV Pluto TVParamount Movie ChannelComedy Central Pluto TVSpike Pluto TVBET Pluto TVNick Pluto TV and Nick Jr. Pluto TV.

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In addition to live TV, recorded content and on-demand titles, Contour subs can use the voice remote to pull from the vast library of TV shows, movies and more available on Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube and now Pluto TV.

“The launch of Pluto TV on Contour will provide Cox customers with endless enjoyment of our curated, lean-back streaming offering,” Tom Ryan, CEO & co-founder of Pluto TV, said in a statement.

The partnership is an extension of Viacom’s long-standing relationship with Cox and complements the media company’s efforts to accelerate participation across next-generation platforms to expand its consumer reach and add value for its distribution partners.

The deal provides Cox subs with additional video-viewing options and engagement on a zero-incremental cost basis. For Pluto TV, Cox brings exposure to a new audience that can easily discover the best in ad-supported streaming in one unified entertainment destination with added features and ease of use.

Equipped with an online programming guide and channel surfing capabilities for a lean-back, TV-like experience, there is a whole new world of entertainment streaming on Pluto TV.

OTT Video’s Growing Secret: Sports Gambling

Over-the-top video is developing a lucrative relationship with legalized sports gambling — thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court striking down a ban on sports gambling a year ago.

Fubo TV and FanDuel Group May 23 announced a partnership that will make FanDuel the exclusive sportsbook, online casino, horse racing and DFS (distributed file system) partner of the live TV streaming service. The companies have also signed a media buy, which makes FanDuel the exclusive advertiser on fuboTV in these categories.

The agreement is FanDuel Group’s first partnership with an online TV service and will expand fuboTV’s sports offering for consumers while integrating betting data on the fubo platform.

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In addition, horse racing networks TVG and TVG2 (and FanDuel affiliates), will also be available to fuboTV subscribers nationwide. TVG will be added to Fubo’s 90+ channels ($54.99/month after seven day free trial), and TVG2 will be available through the Sports Plus add-on package of nearly 25 channels ($8.99/month).

With these channels, fuboTV subs will have access to horse racing industry coverage, in addition to expanded programming on sports betting and fantasy news, including TVG’s sports betting focused pre-game show, “More Ways to Win.”

“We are always looking for ways to add value for consumers and enhance their premium experience with fuboTV,” Min Kim, VP of business development at Fubo, said in a statement. “Gaming and sports are natural complements.”

Indeed, Disney-owned ESPN earlier this month announced it was partnering with Caesars Entertainment to build a branded studio in Las Vegas. The studio will offer sport-betting-related content on ESPN and ESPN+, the newly-launched SVOD service.

“The sports betting landscape has changed, and fans are coming to us for this kind of information more than ever before,” said Mike Morrison, VP of business development at ESPN. “We are poised to expand our coverage in a big way.”

In February, WarnerMedia Entertainment inked a deal with Caesars Entertainment to build a branded Vegas studio for its Bleacher Report (B/R) platform.

Fox Sports on May 8 became the first major media company in the U.S. to acquire a stake in sports gambling after paying $236 million  for a 5% ownership of The Stars Group.

“Digital sports wagering represents a growing market opportunity that allows us to diversify our revenue streams, connect directly with consumers and expand the reach of the Fox Sports brand,” said Eric Shanks, CEO of Fox Sports.

Adam Kaplan, VP of content business & operations at FanDuel, said the company’s data analytics will change how people watch sports on TV.

“We can enhance the live-viewing experience by allowing cord-cutting sports fans to view the content that matters to them the most from their TV, phone, tablet or computer,” Kaplan said.

Regardless of its legality, Disney CEO Bob Iger, speaking on the recent fiscal call, was quick to deflect the family-based media giant’s tacit support for gambling.

“We’ve already done some [gambling-related] things that we would integrate it into our programming, but not to the extent that we would be facilitating gambling as an entity,” Iger said. “In other words, we’ll provide programming that will, I guess, be designed to enlighten people who are betting on sports. But that’s as far as we would go. We just don’t intend to go into the gambling business.”

Roku Launches Analytics Tool for OTT Video Advertisers

Roku May 22 announced the launch of an analytics tool that helps marketers better understand ad-supported video-on-demand — such as The Roku Channel, which ranks among the company’s most-popular. Roku has more than 29 million registered active users.

“Activation Insights” software tracks a brand’s linear TV campaign performance, with an analysis of the potential OTT audience missed and the optimal budget spend on the Roku platform.

The software is part of Roku Ad Insights Suite, which helps brands measure campaign reach and effectiveness across linear TV and OTT, including whether the audience is light TV viewers, cord-cutters or viewers who were under or over exposed to a brand’s ads on linear TV.

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According to Magna Global, OTT accounts for 29% of TV viewing, but so far has only captured 3% of TV ad budgets.

“Smart marketers are significantly increasing investments in OTT to reflect the dramatic shift to streaming,” Scott Rosenberg, SVP and GM, platform business, Roku, said in a statement. “By adding the ability to tie advertising performance on linear with a specific audience that advertisers can gain on OTT, we are addressing a long-standing industry challenge for OTT media planning.”

Indeed, Roku claims brands Baskin Robbins and RE/Max found that a sizable audience was no longer being reached via their linear TV ad campaigns. Eighty-six percent of people age 18-49 who saw a Baskin Robbins ad on the Roku platform did not see the ad on linear TV, leading to a 10.6% incremental reach, according to Roku. Additionally, 81% of users age 25-54 who saw a RE/Max ad on the Roku platform did not see the ad on linear TV, leading to a 9.2% incremental reach.

“This year’s TV upfront made one thing very clear, OTT is the new cable and powerful new video channel to reach today’s consumers,” said Michael Piner, SVP, video and data drive investments, MullenLowe. “Roku’s tool helps show us just how effective OTT is at reaching our advertisers’ valuable consumers. It gives us a detailed look behind the GRP, allowing us to identify key audiences we’re missing.”

Pluto TV Gets Major League Soccer

Pluto TV May 13 announced the launch of the Major Leaguer Soccer (MLS) channel on the ad-supported streaming video platform.

San Francisco-based Pluto said the move underscored what it claims is the sport of soccer’s strong appeal with cord-cutters and millennial consumers.

“Establishing our first league offering with a renowned and respected organization like the MLS is the perfect match,” Amy Kuessner, SVP of content partnerships for Pluto TV, said in a statement. “Expanding Pluto TV’s sports offerings has long been a goal of the platform.”

Highlights of the available programming include classic matches, such as MLS Cup 2018 and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s debut for the LA Galaxy, a 4-3 win over crosstown rivals LAFC.

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Original features on offer will include “The Movement,” which explores the intersection of soccer and culture, and “The Birth of a Rivalry,” MLS’s flagship series about the passion of new rivalries.

Additional programming includes “Matchday Central,” featuring expert analysis from MLS personalities; “Extratimedriven by Continental,” a twice-weekly talk show; “MLS Review,” a weekly show; and highlights including “Top 10 Plays” and “All Goals,” amongst others.

“Major League Soccer’s agreement with Pluto TV offers fans a new way to experience the game and interact with our high-quality content,” said Chris Schlosser, SVP of media at MLS. “Major League Soccer is always evaluating new opportunities to provide our young, diverse and tech savvy fan base increased access to our matches, athletes and clubs.”

MLS’ new channel will join Pluto TV’s 100+ live, linear, curated channels and thousands of movies on demand from nearly 150 major studios, networks, publishers and digital first outfits.

Viewers and fans can access Pluto TV in the living room by utilizing Amazon’s Fire TV, Roku, Android TV, Chromecast, on Smart TVs by Vizio, Hisense, and Sony, or on gaming consoles such as PS4. It is also available on-the-go via apps for iOS, Android, and Amazon, at-the-fingertips on PC and Mac, or on the web at www.Pluto.TV.

Roku CEO: We Are the No. 1 Smart TV Operating System in the U.S.

Roku said 33% of all Internet-connected “smart” televisions sold domestically in the first quarter (ended March 31) featured its branded operating system. That’s up from 25% of all TVs sold in 2018.

“In less than five years, the Roku TV has gone from a disruptive idea to the market leader,” founder/CEO Anthony Wood said on the fiscal call. “We have taken the leads from Samsung and are now the number one smart TV OS in the country.”

Anthony Wood

Wood attributed Roku’s transition from streaming media device manufacturer to ad-supported VOD distributor to ongoing consumer moves away from linear TV toward over-the-top video — and the CE industry’s sluggish efforts to develop “homegrown” software OS platforms in televisions.

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“We really think in almost all cases those [OS] solutions are probably uncompetitive and that we will just continue to see gains and share of licensed OS [platforms],” Wood said. “So there is a lot of room to grow. It’s a big opportunity.”

Meanwhile, Roku continues to drive an expanding AVOD market through its branded Roku channel. The AVOD market gained momentum following Viacom’s acquisition of Pluto TV, Comcast’s planned launch of AVOD distribution, Shout! Factory’s Shout TV, Sony Crackle and San Francisco-based Tubi, among others.

“We are excited about the increased investment and focus by major media companies on bringing free content over-the-top,” said Scott Rosenberg, GM, platform business. “When they do this, they ultimately accelerate the consumer move into OTT and expand the economic pie for all of us. We share in their success.”

Indeed, Roku said user accounts increased 40% to 29.1 million from 20.8 million last year. Consumer streaming hours increased 74% to 8.9 billion hours compared to 5.1 billion hours in the previous-year period.

“The most exciting thing about the Viacom/Pluto tie-up is the fact that Viacom is taking content that was previously only available through pay-TV subscriptions and making it available free through AVOD services,” he said. “That not only will that drive viewing on the platform, I think it will also help accelerate the shift of ad dollars over to streaming.”

Roku Widens Quarterly Revenue, Loss — Despite Strong User Adoption

Streaming media device pioneer Roku May 8 reported consumer streaming hours increased 74% in the first quarter (ended March 31) to 8.9 billion hours, compared with 5.1 billion hours in the previous-year period.

The Los Gatos, Calif.-based company said user accounts increased 40% to 29.1 million, from 20.8 million a year ago.

“The shift to streaming and away from linear TV and legacy distribution platforms has enormous momentum,” founder and CEO Anthony Wood said in a statement. “We estimate that in Q1 2019 more than one-in-three smart TVs sold in the U.S. were Roku TVs, making the Roku OS the #1 selling smart TV OS in the U.S.”

Despite the strong user metrics, Roku said its quarterly net loss increased 56% to $10.7 million from a net loss of $6.9 million in the previous-year period. Revenue increased 51% to $206.7 million from $136.6 million in 2018.

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Wall Street shrugged off the loss as it had expected a significantly higher decline as Roku ups content and operating expenses. Analysts also projected revenue of $190 million, which Roku topped by nearly 9%.

Indeed, ad revenue ballooned nearly 80% to $134 million from $74.8 million last year. Roku device sales increased about 18% to $65.4 million from $51.7 million last year.

Tubi Licenses ‘The Apprentice’ Catalog Featuring Donald Trump

Ad-supported VOD app Tubi May 6 announced it has secured streaming rights to all 15 seasons of “The Apprentice,” the reality TV show that helped put Donald Trump, his family members and Omarosa on the national stage.

Arnold Schwarzenegger hosted the final season after Trump was elected President of the United States in 2016.

San Francisco-based Tubi secured the rights from MGM, which created the long-running series from 2004 through 2017.

The debut season of “The Apprentice” premiered on NBC delivering an average weekly viewership of 20.7 million and was one of the network’s most-watched series with adults 18-49. The franchise has broadened globally with over 20 localized versions.

Notable U.S. contestants included Bill Rancic, Piers Morgan, Bret Michaels, Arsenio Hall, Trace Adkins, Leeza Gibbons, Khloe Kardashian, Cyndi Lauper, Lil Jon, Vivica A. Fox and Geraldo Rivera, among others.

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Last month, a New York appeals court ruled Trump could not dismiss a sexual defamation lawsuit filed by former contestant Summer Zervos just because he is President.

“In our quest to democratize content and make more premium content accessible, we are making a big push into the reality television space,” Tubi CEO Farhad Massoudi said in a statement. “‘The Apprentice’ is our second big series (after Lionsgate’s ‘Anger Management’) announcement this month, and we will have more in the near future.”

Tubi claims to consistently rank as one of the most-watched apps on platforms such as Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Android, among others.

Tubi Secures Streaming Rights to Lionsgate’s ‘Anger Management’

Ad-supported streaming video service Tubi has signed an exclusive deal with Lionsgate to bring all 100 episodes of sitcom “Anger Management” to its viewers.

Viewers can access the show for free across 20 platforms, including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Comcast Xfinity and Cox Contour.

The series, which aired for two years on FX, starred Charlie Sheen, Shawnee Smith and Daniele Bobadilla, among others. Lionsgate released the series on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in 2013.

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The show is a loose extension of Sheen’s character on ratings hit “Two and a Half Men,” which had ousted the controversial star after a fallout with series creator Chuck Lorre.

“Anger Management” had a record-setting debut on FX as the most-watched scripted cable comedy series debut.

“We’re excited to be adding ‘Anger Management’ to our comedy offering,” Adam Lewinson, chief content officer at Tubi, said in a statement. “This is just one of many popular series we’re adding to our rapidly growing library of premium content.”

Sheen stars as “Charlie,” a non-traditional therapist specializing in anger management. He has a successful private practice, holding sessions with his group of primary patient regulars each week, as well as performing pro bono counseling for an inmate group at a state prison.

Charlie thrives on the chaos in his life, while still battling his own anger issues. His life is complicated by his relationships with his own therapist/best friend (Selma Blair), an ex-wife (Shawnee Smith) whose positive outlook but poor choices in men frustrates Charlie, and their 13-year-old daughter (Daniela Bobadilla) who has OCD.

Tubi’s content library contains more than 12,000 movies and television series. The service claims its content volume is more than double in size to Netflix – approximately 40,000 hours of content.

Viacom Adds Flagship Networks to Pluto TV, Announces Slate of Original Digital Programming

Viacom Inc. announced the introduction of its flagship networks to Pluto TV’s channel lineup and a new slate of original digital programming during its second-annual NewFront event at the PlayStation Theater April 29.

BET, Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon will debut channels on ad-supported Pluto TV May 1, according to a Viacom press release, with content from Viacom’s library in three categories of branded channels: co-branded flagship channels that are curated versions of Viacom’s leading networks; signature channels with the most celebrated and diversified programming from each brand; and pop-up channels that deliver binge-worthy series in marathon-style airings, starting with MTV’s “The Hills” — in time for the revival series “The Hills: New Beginnings” premiering June 24.

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“We are thrilled to expand the Pluto TV offering with the addition of Viacom’s world-class channel brands and iconic programming. This is a major step forward in our mission of entertaining the planet,” said Tom Ryan, CEO and co-founder of Pluto TV, in a statement. “Viacom has been entertaining audiences for decades with evergreen content that is bold, daring and inspires worldwide fandom. These channels are guaranteed to provide endless entertainment to both new and existing Pluto TV viewers.”

Viacom Digital Studios will produce new and returning original series around major tentpole events, linear franchises and popular digital shows from Awesomeness, BET, Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon, according to a Viacom release.

“Viacom is also teaming up with big-name stars and fan-favorite digital talent to deliver entirely new programming across Facebook, Snap, Twitter and YouTube for Viacom’s more than 880 million fans — the largest social footprint among entertainment companies,” according to the release.

The new content slate includes:

  • “How to Survive: A Break-Up,” in which Eva Gutowski stars in an AwesomenessTV scripted romantic comedy series;
  • “Black Coffee,” BET’s daily morning talk show starring Marc Lamont Hill that catches up with Black Twitter’s liveliest conversations and features interviews with celebrities, athletes, and social media stars
  • an untitled late-night show from David Spade, Comedy Central’s new late-night show hosted by Spade, which will launch show channels and publish content across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
  • “MTV No Filter: Tana Turns 21,” which follows Tana Mongeau and her crew for a behind-the-scenes look as they navigate vlog life, studio time, partying and the occasional controversy;
  • “SpongeBob Smarty Pants Game Show,”a digital game show from Nickelodeon where two SpongeBob superfans compete to win The Golden Pineapple by answering trivia questions, completing messy stunts and competing in SpongeBob-themed games.