Pluto TV Adds News, Entertainment Channels

Viacom-owned AVOD service Pluto TV and CBS Interactive announced three additional channels launched Nov. 13 on the free streaming service.

Pluto TV viewers now have access to live news, updates, analysis and reporting from the entertainment news brand ET Live and live local news streams from CBSN New York and CBSN Los Angeles.

The new additions join existing CBS Interactive properties and longstanding Pluto TV media partners CBSN and CNET.

“CBS Interactive has long been an integral partner for Pluto TV. We are excited to continue to grow this relationship and extend new value to the Pluto TV audience together,” Jeff Shultz, EVP and chief business officer, Pluto TV, said in a statement.

“In addition to our previously launched CBSN and CNET channels on Pluto TV, we’re thrilled to be bringing more of our ad-supported streaming channels to the platform with today’s launch of our entertainment news channel, ET Live, and CBSN’s local news channels for New York and Los Angeles,” Sarah Jeon, EVP of business development, CBS Interactive, said in a statement.

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ET Live (channel 120) is a 24-hour streaming network dedicated to all things entertainment, tapping into the legacy of “Entertainment Tonight’s” brand.

CBSN New York (channel 237) was the first of CBS’s local direct-to-consumer streaming news services in major markets across the country. CBSN New York features live streams of WCBS and WLNY’s regularly scheduled newscasts and additional weekday one-hour newscasts at 7 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. In addition, CBSN New York provides live continuous coverage of breaking news events with programming led by WCBS and WLNY anchors and reporters as well as an extensive library of local news content that will be available for on-demand viewing.

CBSN Los Angeles (channel 238) features 24-hour anchored programming, coverage of live breaking news events in the region as well as an extensive library of local news content that will be available for on-demand viewing. CBSN Los Angeles’ daily lineup includes live streams of KCBS (CBS 2) and KCAL (KCAL 9), regularly scheduled newscasts and additional weekday one-hour newscasts at 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. CBSN Los Angeles programming is led by CBS 2 and KCAL 9 anchors and reporters.

The new programming and channel collaboration with CBS Interactive joins Pluto TV’s more than 200 live, linear, curated channels and thousands of movies on demand from major studios, networks, publishers and digital media companies.

Viacom and CBS Announce Leadership After Pending Merger

CBS and Viacom Nov. 11 announced senior appointments for content and digital leadership of ViacomCBS effective upon closing of the merger.

The combined company’s library will comprise 140,000-plus TV episodes and 3,600-plus film titles, according to a joint press release. ViacomCBS will also have more than 750 series ordered or in production, as well as a major Hollywood film studio, Paramount Pictures. The combined company will have a content spend of more than $13 billion — one of the largest in the industry, according to the joint release.

“ViacomCBS will be one of the largest premium content creators in the world, with the capacity to produce content for both our own platforms and for others,” Bob Bakish, president and CEO, Viacom, who will serve as president and CEO of ViacomCBS upon close, said in a statement. “This talented team of content leaders will work together to ensure we realize the full power of our brands, our deep relationships with the creative community and our intellectual property to drive our growth as a combined company.”

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Content leaders, who will manage the creative and business operations of the company’s brands and help assess how best to distribute programming include:

  • Jim Gianopulos, who will oversee Filmed Entertainment, continuing as chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures, a role that includes oversight of Paramount Animation, Paramount Features, Paramount Players and Paramount TV;
  • Chris McCarthy, president of MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo, who will serve as president of entertainment and youth brands, ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks — adding Comedy Central, Paramount Network, Smithsonian Channel and TV Land brands and their respective content studios to his current portfolio of MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo;
  • David Nevins, chief creative officer, CBS, and chairman and CEO, Showtime Networks, who will oversee CBS Television Studios, the CBS Television Network’s Entertainment division, the Showtime Networks and Pop, as well as the programming of CBS All Access (He will also have oversight of CBS’ interest in The CW, a joint venture between CBS and Warner Bros. Entertainment. In addition, Nevins will oversee BET, which will continue to be led by Scott Mills as President of BET);
  • Carolyn Kroll Reidy, who will lead the company’s publishing assets, continuing in her role as president and CEO of Simon & Schuster; and
  • Brian Robbins, president of Nickelodeon, who will oversee the company’s kids and young adult-focused offerings as president, kids and family entertainment, ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks (In addition to Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, Nick Jr., TeenNick, Nicktoons and Nickelodeon Studios, he will now oversee Awesomeness, which he co-founded and was acquired by Viacom in 2018).

 

Joe Ianniello, as previously announced, will serve as chairman and CEO of CBS, overseeing CBS-branded assets such as the CBS Television Network (including CBS Entertainment, CBS News, and CBS Sports), CBS Television Studios, CBS Interactive (including CBS All Access) and CBS Television Stations.

ViacomCBS will also form a new Content Council, comprising the content leaders across the company and chaired by Nevins, to ensure these leaders and other senior executives are working together to maximize the use of IP and talent relationships across the combined company.

ViacomCBS’ portfolio of streaming assets will include CBS All Access and Showtime, which deliver premium, branded content live and on demand to millions of subscribers; Pluto TV, the leading free, advertising-supported streaming TV service in the United States; and targeted niche products such as BET+, CBSN, CBS Sports HQ, ET Live and Noggin.

“Our content scale will support our streaming strategy, which will build on the rapidly scaling advertising and subscription-based products we already have in the market,” Bakish said in a statement. “The executives we announced today bring complementary and deep experience in both subscription and ad-supported streaming businesses, and will work together to create a differentiated streaming ecosystem in the market.”

ViacomCBS digital leaders include:

  • Marc DeBevoise, president and COO, CBS Interactive, who will serve as chief digital Officer, ViacomCBS, and president and CEO, CBS Interactive, providing overall leadership for the combined company’s technology and digital operations across its broad range of digital assets, including its subscription, live and vertical ad-supported direct-to-consumer streaming services and major internet properties (His team will also be responsible for Viacom Digital Studios as well as its partnerships with technology, digital video and social platforms. In addition, he will continue to lead CBS Interactive and its digital businesses, including those of the CBS Television Network and CNET Media Group and its portfolio of streaming services including CBS All Access, CBSN, CBS Sports HQ and ET Live.);
  • Kelly Day, president, Viacom Digital Studios, who will continue to lead the digital content strategy and initiative to create and expand original programming and branded content across leading and emerging social platforms (In this role, reporting to DeBevoise, she will look to expand this initiative from brands including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and BET across the combined company’s content portfolio.);
  • Phil Wiser, CTO, CBS, who will serve as CTO for the combined company, reporting to DeBevoise, and will be responsible for the global technology strategy, shared services, operations and transformation for ViacomCBS; and
  • Tom Ryan, CEO and co-founder of Pluto TV, who will continue to lead Pluto TV and will oversee all facets of the company’s business;

 

The merger is expected to close by early December, according to the press release.

Anti-Piracy Group Adds Viacom, Comcast

The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, an online anti-piracy coalition whose members include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and major studios, has added Comcast and Viacom as members.

While NBC Universal and Paramount Pictures were already ACE members, the addition of their parent companies will strengthen ACE’s comprehensive approach to disrupting a piracy ecosystem that harms creators, according to the group. Comcast is the first internet service provider (ISP) to join ACE.

“We are excited to have Comcast and Viacom join ACE,” Charles Rivkin, CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, said in a statement. “As the parent companies of two of our original members, they have been supporters of our efforts and numerous successes, but now as members, they will strengthen the legal and operational work we’re able to do to reduce the threat of piracy and support creators.”

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ACE was founded in June 2017 by 30 companies who sought to expand ongoing, cooperative efforts to reduce the threat and prevalence of online piracy.

Last year alone, there were an estimated 5.4 billion downloads of pirated films and television shows and 21.4 billion total visits to streaming piracy sites worldwide. This conservatively costs $29.2 billion to as much as $71 billion annually in lost domestic revenues, according to a recent study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center.

Piracy also harms consumers. One-third of pirate sites target them with malware that can lead to a range of problems, including identify theft and financial loss, according to a report by Digital Citizens Alliance.

Since its inception, ACE has successfully litigated against piracy device sellers and providers of unauthorized content and their operators such as Vader Streams, SetTVNow, Tickbox and Dragon Box, and has collaborated with law enforcement investigations and actions around the world. ACE draws upon the global antipiracy resources of the MPAA in concert with the internal antipiracy expertise of the coalition members.

With the additions, the full roster of ACE members includes Amazon, AMC Networks, BBC Worldwide, Bell Canada and Bell Media, Canal+ Group, CBS Corp., Channel 5, Comcast, Constantin Film, Discovery, Foxtel, Grupo Globo, HBO, Hulu, Lionsgate, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Millennium Media, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount Pictures, SF Studios, Sky, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Star India, Studio Babelsberg, STX Entertainment, Telefe, Telemundo, Televisa, Univision Communications Inc., Viacom, Village Roadshow, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Report: ‘South Park’ Creators and Viacom Poised to Reap Half a Billion for Streaming Rights

“South Park” creators and Viacom could reap between $450 million and $500 million by selling the streaming rights to the irreverent animated series, according to a Bloomberg report citing people familiar with the matter.

The news outlet reported that as many as a half dozen companies are bidding for exclusive U.S. streaming rights to past episodes of the show, according to the sources.

The show has recently been available on Hulu, now controlled by Disney.

Viacom and “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone hope to ink a new deal by the end of 2019 with a decision on the winner that could come as soon as this weekend, said the anonymous sources.

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Past seasons of popular TV shows have been a hot commodity as the number of streaming services have proliferated, with such shows as “The Office” and “Friends” set to move from Netflix to Comcast’s Peacock and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, respectively, for eye-popping prices. For its part, Netflix just picked up worldwide rights for “Seinfeld” for a half billion.

“South Park” is the longest-running show on Viacom’s Comedy Central and has been renewed for another three seasons.

Comedy Central to Live-Stream 24 Hours of Free Stand-Up Content on Its YouTube Channel

Viacom’s Comedy Central is opening its vault of half-hour stand-up specials for a 24-hour live stream event on its Stand-Up channel on YouTube.

The live stream, which begins Oct. 17 at 11 p.m. ET, covers specials curated from the past two decades, include performances from Kevin Hart (2004), Jim Gaffigan (2000), Amy Schumer (2010), John Mulaney (2009), Zach Galifianakis (2001), Patton Oswalt (1999), Michael Che (2014), Gabriel Iglesias (2003), Anthony Jeselnik (2009), Daniel Tosh (2003), Sebastian Maniscalco (2008), Chris Redd (2017) and Donald Glover (2010).

The event culminates with the on-air premiere of the new season of “Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents …,” with back-to-back episodes on Oct. 18 at 11p.m. and 11:30 p.m. ET/PT on Comedy Central.

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The half-hour comedy specials will also air throughout the weekend on PlutoTV, the ad-supported VOD service owned by Viacom.

The selection of half-hour stand-up specials to stream include:

Cristela Alonzo (2013)
Dave Attell (1999)
Maria Bamford (2001)
Joel Kim Booster (2017)
Neal Brennan (2012)
Matthew Broussard (2016)
Bo Burnham (2009)
Michelle Buteau (2015)
Michael Che (2014)
Chris D’Elia (2011)
Chris Distefano (2014)
Naomi Ekperigin (2016)
Rachel Feinstein (2014)
Nate Fernald (2016)
Jo Firestone (2017)
Ron Funches (2014)
Jim Gaffigan (2000)
Zach Galifianakis (2001)
Noah Gardenswartz (2016)
Garfunkel And Oates (2012)
Solomon Georgio (2017)
Chris Gethard (2014)
Greg Giraldo (2000)
Nikki Glaser (2013)
Donald Glover (2010)
Kevin Hart (2004)
Mitch Hedberg (1999)
Emily Heller (2016)
Lil Rel Howery (2013)
Gabriel Iglesias (2003)
Sam Jay (2017)
Anthony Jeselnik (2009)
Josh Johnson (2017)
Kyle Kinane (2011)
Jessi Klein (2011)
Michael Kosta (2011)
Pete Lee (2009)
Natasha Leggero (2011)
Gabe Liedman (2013)
Joe List (2015)
Sebastian Maniscalco (2008)
Demetri Martin (2004)
Sam Morril (2015)
John Mulaney (2009)
Aparna Nancherla (2016)
Mark Normand (2014)
Tig Notaro (2004)
Jacqueline Novak (2016)
Patrice O’Neal (2003)
Patton Oswalt (1999)
Brian Regan (2000)
Chris Redd (2017)
Ramon Rivas (2016)
Casey James Salengo (2017)
Yamaneika Saunders (2017)
Kristen Schaal (2009)
Amy Schumer (2010)
Rory Scovel (2012)
Ali Siddiq (2016)
Dan Soder (2013)
Beth Stelling (2015)
Brody Stevens (2014)
Nick Swardson (2001)
Julio Torres (2017)
Shane Torres (2017)
Daniel Tosh (2003)
Liza Treyger (2015)
Baron Vaughn (2013)
Jenny Zigrino (2017)

Report: Lionsgate Considering Spinning Off Starz

Lionsgate is reportedly considering spinning off or selling its Starz subsidiary.

Lionsgate, which acquired Starz in 2016 for $4 billion, is looking to leverage the pay-TV and $8.99 monthly over-the-top video subsidiary in an era of burgeoning streaming video, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited sources familiar with the situation.

Specifically, the Santa Monica, Calif.-based studio/distributor is following the corporate playbook Viacom pursued in 2004 when it spun off its controlling stake in Blockbuster Video for a $1.3 billion impairment charge.

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Lionsgate reported about $2.9 billion in debt at the end of the most-recent fiscal period. The company could offload the debt through a special-purpose acquisition vehicle — a public company created to acquire a specific asset.

Earlier this year, CBS reportedly offered $5 billion for Starz, which Lionsgate considered too low. Two years ago, Hasbro looked to acquire Starz but negotiations ended without a deal.

Lionsgate also has other reasons to consider offloading Starz. With pay-TV operators looking to rework carriage agreements with content holders, DirecTV reduced the amount it pays Lionsgate to carry Starz and Starz Encore.

Now Comcast is reportedly looking to drop Starz when its carriage deal expires at the end of the year. Loss of the nation’s No. 1 cable operator could result in Starz losing millions of subscribers, or more than $225 million in annual revenue.

 

Viacom Expands Distribution Deal with Virgin Media to Include Pluto TV

Viacom International Media Networks and Virgin Media Oct. 7 announced an expanded content distribution agreement for the United Kingdom and Ireland.

In addition to live, on-demand and streaming rights to MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Paramount Network, the new deal includes access to Pluto TV — the $340 million ad-supported VOD service Viacom acquired earlier this year.

The Pluto brands includes Pluto TV Drama, Pluto TV Romance and Pluto TV Crime, among 60 channels.

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“This renewed and broadened partnership with Virgin Media speaks to the strength of our brands and content, as well as our investment in new streaming apps, which will allow Virgin Media customers to access their favorite Viacom content in new ways,” Arran Tindall, SVP, commercial and content distribution, for Viacom International Media Networks, said in a statement.

The deal also includes first-time Virgin access to Viacom’s U.K. apps My5 (Channel 5, including content from A+E and PBS America)) and MTV Play.

The pact includes on-demand access to U.K. reality series “Geordie Shore,” “Inside Amy Schumer,” “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Paw Patrol,” among others.

“This is great news for our customers who can continue to enjoy Viacom’s diverse range of channels and content,” David Bouchier, chief digital entertainment officer at Virgin Media, said. “The inclusion of three brand new apps will give our customers greater flexibility to watch their favorite shows at a time that suits them.”

 

Viacom Expands Pluto TV Access to Android Devices in Europe

Viacom has expanded access to its ad-supported streaming video service, Pluto TV, on Android devices in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Pluto TV will be available via its app on Google Play and connected televisions.

Acquired earlier this year for $340 million, Pluto TV represents Viacom’s most-ambitious attempt to expand brand awareness and exposure in the over-the-top video ecosystem worldwide.

Viacom brands include Paramount Pictures, BET, MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.

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With Netflix and Amazon Prime Video dominating the SVOD market, Viacom contends free ad-supported streaming video represents a competitive alternative.

Pluto TV users in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have access to more than 30 thematically-curated channels, including Pluto TV Movies, KultKrimi and recently-launched Comedy Central Pluto TV and Comedy Central — Made in Germany.

Pluto TV in the U.K. features more than 60 channels, including Pluto TV Movies, Pluto TV Indies, Pluto TV Inside and Pluto TV Crime.

Pluto TV launched earlier this month on Apple TV and iOS, and is now available on all major mobile devices and TVs.

Olivier Jollet, managing director Europe, Pluto TV, said that as today’s media consumption diversifies, premium video content isn’t limited to the TV.

“With the launch on Android tablets and mobile devices, Pluto TV is available right in our users’ pocket … on the couch, on their daily commute or at their holiday destination.”

Viacom’s $9.99 BET+ Streaming Service Launches

Viacom Sept. 19 launched just its third branded domestic subscription streaming video service BET+, priced at $9.99 per month.

The SVOD service complements BET’s linear network, which launched in 1980 by Robert L. Johnson. Additional access points include BET.com and the BET Now app for TV Everywhere users.

In addition, BET’s recently launched channel on Pluto TV will continue to feature classic films and box office hits from the best of black Hollywood.

The service follows previous launches of preschool-based Noggin and Comedy Central Now. Viacom also owns and operates ad-supported Pluto TV.

Ironically, BET+ will compete directly against AMC Networks’ Urban Movie Channel (UMC), the SVOD created in 2018 for African American and urban audiences — by Robert L. Johnson’s RLJ Entertainment.

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BET+ is also available on the App Store for iPhone and iPad, Android devices, Android TV devices, Amazon Fire TV and Prime Video Channels.

Users can also subscribe directly through Apple TV channels and watch in the Apple TV app, on demand and ad-free, across their devices for online and offline viewing.

The joint venture by BET Networks and Tyler Perry Studios launches with more than 1,000 hours of ad-free premium content, including exclusive new original programming and a broad array of top African-American-focused dramas, sitcoms, films, and specials from BET and sister networks within the Viacom portfolio.

Additionally, BET+ will offer an exclusive collection of Tyler Perry films, television, and stage plays. The service will also provide a host of content from leading African American creators, including Tracy Oliver, Will Packer, along with fresh new voices, on both sides of the camera. New titles will be added to the service regularly.

Initial content includes all nine episodes of BET+ original series, “First Wives Club,from Girls Trip screenwriter Tracy Oliver, and starring Ryan Michelle Bathe, Michelle Buteau and Jill Scott.

New weekly original series,Bigger— a 10-episode comedic series from hitmaker Will Packer (“Ride Along” and “Think Like a Man.”) — gives fans a taste of what’s to come by making the first three episodes of the series available now.

The remaining episodes of will be released every week beginning Sept. 26. In addition to its new original content, BET+ is also now streaming the comedy series, Martin”.

In the coming months, BET+ will stream Tyler Perry’s theatrical films, including the Madeafranchise; new original series; and a selection of Perry’s stage plays —Meet the Browns,” “Daddy’s Little Girls,” “Family That Preys,” and “I Can Do Bad All By Myself,” among others.

BET+ will stream a lineup of African American TV, movie and musical content including BET’s library series, films, documentaries, and specials such as “The Bobby Brown Story,” “The New Edition Story,” “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” “The Quad,” “Being Mary Jane,” “Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration, ” “College Hill,” “Comic View,” “Hell Date,” “Keyshia Cole: All In,” “Nellyville” “Reed Between The Lines,” “Ali: People’s Champ,” “Katrina: 10 Years Later,” “Killer Curves,” “BET Awards,” “Hip Hop Awards,” “Soul Train Awards,” “Black Girls Rock,” “Boomerang,” “Harlem Nights,” “Coach Carter,” “Losing Isaiah,” and “Tina Turner Live In Holland,” among others.

Viacom library TV shows include VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta,” “Basketball Wives,” “T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle,” Comedy Central’s “Why? With Hannibal Buress”, MTV’s “Todrick,” TV Land’s “Soul Man,” Nick @ Night’s “Instant Mom,” and more.

In the coming weeks, BET+ will feature stand-up comedy specials from D.L. Hughley, Eddie Griffin, Nick Cannon, Sasheer Zamata (Saturday Night Live), Lil Rel (Get Out), Gina Yashere (The Daily Show), and Sinbad.

 

Pluto TV Expands to Apple Devices in Europe

Viacom-owned ad-supported VOD service Pluto TV is expanding to Apple devices in Europe.

The Pluto TV app, which includes access to more than 30 channels featuring movies, MTV, and TV sitcoms, is now available in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Viacom acquired San Francisco-based Pluto earlier this year for $340 million in cash.

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“Our goal is to entertain the planet and reach audiences where they are, be it at home on the TV screen or on the go on their mobile device”, Olivier Jollet, managing director Europe at Pluto TV, said in a statement. “Launching on Apple TV and Apple mobile devices in German speaking markets and the U.K. is the perfect way to do so, since we are now additionally providing our lean-back experience to millions of Apple users.”

Pluto TV earlier this year said it had surpassed 18 million monthly users.