Pluto TV Inks BBC Distribution Deal in Europe

ViacomCBS’s free ad-supported streaming platform Pluto TV has signed a distribution deal with the BBC to distribute branded channels across Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Spain. The FAST platform is launching streaming service in Italy on Oct. 28.

The BBC channels focus new and classic “Doctor Who” series episodes, in addition to dramas such as “Call the Midwife,” “War and Peace,” “Great Expectations” and “The Musketeers,” among others.

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“This new partnership with BBC allows Pluto TV to super-serve our European audiences with hundreds of hours of premium BBC drama content that fans know and love, all for free,” Olivier Jollet, SVP and GM of Pluto TV, said in a statement. “Pluto TV continuously expanding content offering is a key component of ViacomCBS’s diversified global streaming eco-system.”

Nick Coulter, director of global new business development at BBC Studios, said the deal gives the venerable broadcaster/producer new distribution channels.

“We are always looking for new ways to bring our talent and shows to audiences around the world,” Coulter said. “Pluto TV will help us reach old fans and new, with some of our best-loved dramas alongside familiar classics.”

Genius Brands International’s ‘Kartoon Channel!’ Launches on Pluto TV

Genius Brands International Oct. 5 announced a deal with ViacomCBS’s ad-supported platform Pluto TV to stream a branded Kartoon Channel! beginning today, significantly expanding the curated free family-friendly channel’s content.

Pluto TV users will now have access to Kartoon’s program line-up, including Genius Brands’ slate of original series — “Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger; the fast-paced trivia original game show series for kids, “KC! Pop Quiz” (starting Oct. 12), hosted by Nickelodeon’s Casey Simpson; and the upcoming “Shaq’s Garage,” starring Shaquille O’Neal and Rob Gronkowski — as well as classics such as “Baby Genius” and “Pac-Man,” among others.

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Harold Chizick, president of content sales, marketing and consumer products at Genius Brands, said the company has a longstanding relationship with ViacomCBS, starting with the launch of “Rainbow Rangers” on Nick Jr. in 2018.

“This deal with Pluto TV provides us with an opportunity to significantly expand the brand footprint to a broad audience across the U.S., as well as to build our advertiser base,” Chizick said in a statement.

Amy Kuessner, SVP of content strategy and global partnerships at ViacomCBS Streaming, said Kartoon’s mission of providing “content with a purpose” to kids of all ages and their families is a perfect complement to ViacomCBS’s range of programming.

“We are thrilled to bring Kartoon Channel! to the Pluto TV audience,” she said.

ViacomCBS claims Pluto’s monthly average viewership base reaches 52 million users.

Pluto TV Launching Italian Service Oct. 28

ViacomCBS’s expansion of digital assets worldwide continues. The media giant has partnered with Comcast-owned satellite TV distributor Sky on multiple projects, including the planned Oct. 28 debut of FAST platform Pluto TV. Sky Media will serve as Pluto’s Italian advertising sales partner.

The debut will mark Italy’s first operating FAST service, which precludes the 2022 debut of Paramount+ in the European country. Pluto TV currently has more than 50 million active monthly users across 25 countries.

“ViacomCBS is rapidly expanding its global streaming footprint, connecting consumers with a vast library of great content across free and pay platforms worldwide,” Olivier Jollet, SVP and GM of Pluto TV, said in a statement.

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Channels available at launch include Pluto TV Azione, Pluto TV Cinema Italiano, Pluto TV Drama and Pluto TV Real Life, in addition to content from myriad third parties including Lionsgate, Minerva, KidsMe, Banijay Rights and Cineflix Rights, among others.

“This further strengthens Sky Media’s portfolio in terms of digital platforms, audience and content,” said Evelyn Rothblum, EVP of advertising, partnerships and distribution at Sky Italy and Sky Deutschland.

Distribution Solutions Putting Content on Pluto TV

Distribution Solutions, a division of Alliance Entertainment, has announced a new partnership with Pluto TV to distribute its content through the free streaming TV service across the United States.

Content from Distribution Solutions will begin appearing on Pluto TV channels starting in fall 2021.

“We are excited to partner with Pluto TV,” Ben Means, president of Distribution Solutions, said in a statement. “Through this partnership, premium independent content from our label partners will be available to their impressive audience of 52 million monthly active users.”

More than 450 hours of content from Distribution Solutions’ label partners will be available for streaming on Pluto TV, curated to plug into the Pluto TV channels.

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Notable titles coming to Pluto TV include family favorites such as The Cat in the Hat and Benji; cult classics such as Gone in 60 Seconds (1974), the Andy Sidaris films and “Gumby”; true crime content such as the “Becoming Evil” docuseries; and recent indie horror hits such as Hostile and Open 24 Hours.

“We are thrilled to welcome Alliance Entertainment and its expansive collection of top-quality content to the world of Pluto TV,” Will Gurman, VP of global content partnerships for Pluto TV, said in a statement. “With this partnership, we look forward to bringing our viewers an even wider array of genres and programming to lean back and enjoy, ranging from reality to history, kids content, and more — all for free.”

Pluto TV Adds Slew of Classic TV Series

Ad-supported FAST service Pluto TV announced a new slate of classic and CBS series coming to the free service this fall.

Pluto TV, owned by ViacomCBS, has more than 52 million global monthly active users.

The new lineup consists of more than 15 series, including “Diagnosis Murder” (due Sept. 11 on TV Land Drama), “Touched by an Angel” (Sept. 13 on Pluto TV’s Drama Life channel) and “Medium” (Sept. 13 on the Drama Life and Crime Drama channel), which will be the first to join, with others to follow, including “Charmed,” “Taxi,” “The Brady Bunch,” “The Odd Couple,” the original “Hawaii Five-O” and many more, totaling more than 1,200 hours of programming. Other series on tap include “Sabrina The Teenage Witch,” “The Fugitive,” “Numbers,” “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” “One on One,” “Half & Half,” “Webster” and “The Parkers.”

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They join single-series channels “Gunsmoke,” “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Matlock,” which are currently streaming on the platform, as well as CBS properties spanning multiple genres and decades that include “Happy Days,” “Mork & Mindy,” “Laverne & Shirley,” “Survivor,” “America’s Next Top Model,” “The Love Boat,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” “The Amazing Race” and a dedicated “CSI” channel streaming “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “CSI: Miami” and “CSI: New York.”

Plex Adds Former Pluto TV, NBCU, Disney Executives

Streaming media company Plex Aug. 24 announced the hiring of former Pluto TV head of ad sales Harold Morgenstern as new chief revenue officer, and Lindsay Jespersen, formerly of NBCUniversal and Disney, as chief financial officer.

In addition, the company recently hired Christa Foley, formerly of Zappos.com, as VP of people.

Harold Morgenstern

Launched in 2019, Plex offers almost 200 live-TV channels and 40,000+ on-demand movies and TV episodes. With more than 25 million registered users globally, Plex has users in 193 countries. The company has secured more than 300 entertainment content partnerships, including Lionsgate, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, MGM, Sony Pictures Television, Sinclair Broadcast Group, AMC, A+E, Crackle and the BBC.

Morgenstern will oversee all revenue generation across Plex’s global AVOD platform and suite of personal media software and services. During his tenure at Pluto TV he built its ad sales organization from scratch and was part of the leadership team that led to the acquisition by ViacomCBS after growing advertising sales into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Now we not only have the right technology backbone, but also a well-rounded ad team with Harold at the helm,” CEO Keith Valory said in a statement.

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As CFO, Jespersen will lead Plex’s finance, accounting, legal and strategic planning functions through its next phase of growth. Jespersen previously served as VP of finance for NBCUniversal’s global distribution and international segment, supporting the segment chairman and overseeing FP&A and strategic planning for the film and television distribution business.

Prior, she served as VP of finance and strategy at The Walt Disney Co., where she led a global team responsible for the financial operations of ABC News.

Christa Foley joined in May as VP of people where she will continue to cultivate the tight-knit Plex culture across its globally distributed remote workforce. Prior to joining Plex, Foley spent 16 years at Zappos.com, where she led brand vision and culture, and spent several years as the head of talent acquisition where she built out the recruiting team and philosophy.

Data: 60% of Connected-TV Households Stream Ad-Supported Content

Consumer interest in free ad-supported VOD (AVOD) content and live television (FAST) continues to proliferate. New data from The Diffusion Group suggests 60% of connected-TV households stream ad-supported content across myriad platforms — spearheaded by YouTube.

AVOD and FAST services driving the market include ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV, Fox Entertainment’s Tubi, Comcast-owned Xumo and Amazon’s IMDb TV, among others.

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TDG found that 24% of connected-TV households consume ad-supported streaming content on a daily basis, while 32% stream weekly. Among AVOD/FAST consumers, 76% stream YouTube, the longest-running streaming video platform, followed by Pluto TV, Tubi and Xumo.

“Clearly the effects of work-from-home and lack of traditional leisure options during the pandemic accelerated consumer use of free ad-supported streaming services,” Doug Montgomery, senior analyst and author of Back to the Future: The Rise of Ad-Supported Streaming Video, said in a statement. “Most major video providers have been preparing for this moment for years and thus able to quickly adapt to an accelerated timeline. It is a unique moment in the history of the entertainment business and those who move quickly and boldly will likely reap the benefits for years to come.”

Pluto TV Adds Altice USA’s ‘News12 New York’ Channel

ViacomCBS’s ad-supported Pluto TV streaming platform is upping its live news content for viewers living in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — and nationwide.

“News12 New York,” the daily regional news digital network owned by cabler Altice USA, is available for free across all devices and platforms that carry Pluto TV. The network features the latest in local news, top stories, events, community updates and more from across the region.

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The network adds to Pluto TV’s growing lineup of news channels, which already includes Altice’s Cheddar News among many others.

“Now, more viewers than ever will be able to tune in to News12’s award-winning content from across the country through Pluto TV’s extensive user base,” said Kristin Malaspina, SVP of marketing and partnerships for Altice News.

Amy Kuessner, SVP of content strategy and global partnerships for ViacomCBS Streaming, said hyperlocal news is an important part of every community, and the partnership would provide Pluto TV’s tri-state viewers free easy access.

“We are proud to continue to expand our local news offerings on Pluto TV with the addition of News12 New York,” Kuessner said.

Pluto TV Gets Exclusive Streaming Access to Pro Bull Riding

ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV July 12 announced a new multifaceted partnership with Professional Bull Riders by transitioning the group’s SVOD service RidePass, to an ad-supported VOD business, beginning July 20.

Launched in 2018, RidePass will stream exclusively as both a linear channel and on-demand featuring hundreds of hours of live professional bull riding, rodeo, other western sporting events. Additionally, Pluto TV will market its service to PBR fans, becoming one of the sport’s largest partners.

With a growing audience of more than 50 million global users on Pluto TV, the RidePass channel will super-serve western sports fans by providing them with free streaming access to western sports content. Programming includes PBR’s Unleash The Beast and Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour, marquee rodeos including WCRA Triple Crown, Indian National Finals Rodeo, Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, and National High School Rodeo Finals, premier horse and equestrian events, including “Road to the Horse,” highlight shows, and western sports shoulder programming.

The first rodeo to be carried live on Pluto TV is Days of 47 Cowboy Games and Rodeo July 20-24 from Utah Fair State Park with all five rounds of competition on the AVOD platform.

“This new relationship with Pluto TV allows PBR to super serve fans with hundreds of events and thousands of hours of great western sports programming now available for free,” Sean Gleason, CEO, PBR, said in a statement. “We will benefit from tremendous synergies to grow this first-of-its-kind sports network.”

This pact marks a first-of-its-kind deal for Pluto TV bringing education and brand awareness via in-event marketing and broadcast television promotion and activations as an official PBR partner.

As the streaming sector continues to expand, with more and more new entrants joining the space to provide a variety of offerings, the partnership aims to demonstrate a new paradigm for niche streaming services and broader platforms to work together, according to Tom Ryan, CEO ViacomCBS  Streaming.

“This relationship provides Pluto TV a mutual vehicle to speak to, and engage with, brand-new audiences while collaboratively growing user bases,” Ryan said. “We are the perfect destination to entertain PBR’s vast and loyal fanbase … for the very first time.”

Pluto TV’s lineup of western-themed programming includes the Western TV channel, which streams series like “The Lone Ranger” and “Walker Texas Ranger” as well as a dedicated movie channel, Pluto TV Westerns, featuring films like True Grit, Geronimo: An American Legend, and The Alamo. Earlier this month, Pluto TV launched an exclusive dedicated channel to Steve McQueen’s Wanted: Dead or Alive.

Samsung Expands TV Plus AVOD Platform to Web

Samsung has quietly rolled out its ad-supported “TV Plus” streaming video platform app for anyone to access on the internet. The app, which streams third-party content such as ABC News Live, PBS Kids, ION Plus and Vice, similarly to Redbox Live TV, The Roku Channel, Pluto TV and Tubi, has been available since 2016 for mobile devices and Samsung TV owners.

Samsung also made the app available to cast on Google Chromecast devices, according to Protocol, which first reported the move.

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Since launching the app, Samsung reportedly has installed the platform in 50 million of its connected televisions, in addition to access on Galaxy mobile devices. It is also available in 23 countries.

“We stream billions of minutes every month,” Sang Kim, SVP of Samsung Electronics, told the publication.

Indeed, AVOD and free ad-supported streaming television, or FAST, has grown in popularity among CE manufacturers and media companies unwilling to directly take on SVOD, including heavyweights Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Hulu.

More importantly, AVOD is generating ad-revenue, hundreds of millions of dollars worth. In its most-recent fiscal filing, Roku reported it generated $466 million in Q1 platform-related ad revenue, up 101% from the previous-year period.

Both ViacomCBS and Fox Entertainment contend their respective AVOD platforms (Pluto TV and Tubi) can generate about $1 billion in annual advertising revenue by next year.