Viacom’s Pluto TV Inks Deal with U.K.’s Channel 5

When Viacom acquired ad-supported streaming service Pluto TV for $340 million earlier this year, the corporate parent to Paramount Pictures, Comedy Central, BET, MTV and Nickelodeon, had scant over-the-top video distribution.

Now, thanks to aggressive dealmaking, Pluto TV is expanding Viacom’s digital content reach globally.

The Los Angeles-based platform signed a distribution deal with Channel 5, the TV broadcaster in the United Kingdom owned by Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN).

Specifically, three branded channels — Pluto TV Drama, Pluto TV Food and Pluto TV Movies – are headed to Channel 5’s “My5” OTT platform — the latter distributed through Apple TV, YouView, Freeview and related devices.

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“Collaborating with a well-established VOD platform like My5 allows us to pursue our ongoing goal to further enhance Pluto TV’s visibility in the U.K.,”  Olivier Jollet, Pluto’s managing director in Europe, said in a statement. “The three curated Pluto TV channels not only add to My5’s existing line-up, but also enable the My5 audience to experience a small portion of Pluto TV’s diverse programming.”

Pluto has expanded distribution (and Viacom content) through recent deals involving Comcast Cable’s X1 platform, Cox Contour, CNN, Cinedigm and BBC Studios.

“This is a global opportunity,” Viacom CEO Bob Bakish said earlier this year. “It’s going to accelerate our strategy on multiple dimensions. We see a very material opportunity there.”

Indeed, Oli Thomas, VP of digital at VIMN in the U.K., Northern and Eastern Europe, said the MY5 arrangement elevates the U.K. broadcaster’s streamer’s diversity in OTT content.

“The Pluto TV channels further enhance our proposition in the U.K.,” he said. “We know that movies and drama in particular work well in the on-demand space and we’re thrilled to debut such an exciting range of library content on My5.”

Viacom Interested in Joining BritBox SVOD Concept

With the BBC and ITV looking to expand subscription streaming service BritBox from the United States to the United Kingdom, Viacom reportedly wants in on the action.

Launched in 2017 in the United States, BritBox features more than 2,000 hours of British-themed original TV series and movies for $7 monthly fee.

Dan Fahy

Speaking at the Connected TV World Summit 2019 in London, Dan Fahy, VP, commercial and content distribution, Viacom International Media Networks, said the worldwide distribution arm of Viacom was keen on participating the BritBox rollout through its Channel 5 subsidiary.

 

Channel 5 is a British linear broadcast network launched in 1997 by VIMN featuring original and third-party content.

“We’re talking to ITV about it,” Fahy told a panel as reported by Advanced-Television.com. “I know there are different views about the need for it, but fundamentally, in the U.K. there’s a huge appetite for British programming … and Channel 5 produces a lot of this great programming.”

Indeed, with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video producing and streaming prodigious quantities of British-centric programming, the globl appetite for the content – notably Prime Video’s “Tin Star,” starring Tim Roth, is not abating.

In the U.S., AMC Network’s Acorn TV has been streaming British-themed content since 2011. The platform surpassed 800,000 subscribers last summer when combined with AMC’s Urban Movie Channel.

“There is a segment for some of the great British programming to come together in a frictionless, on-demand environment,” Fahy said.