Viacom to Acquire Pluto TV

Viacom announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire U.S. free ad-supported streaming service Pluto TV for $340 million in cash.

Among the benefits of the deal is creating a scaled direct-to-consumer offering, giving Viacom direct access to millions of consumers, according to the Viacom press release. It also gives Viacom an opportunity to monetize library product, according to the release.

“Today marks an important step forward in Viacom’s evolution, as we work to move both our company and the industry forward,” said Viacom president and CEO Bob Bakish in a statement. “Pluto TV’s unique and market-leading product, combined with Viacom’s brands, content, advanced advertising capabilities and global scale, creates a great opportunity for consumers, partners and Viacom. As the video marketplace continues to segment, we see an opportunity to support the ecosystem in creating products at a broad range of price points, including free. To that end, we see significant white space in the ad-supported streaming market and are excited to work with the talented Pluto TV team, and a broad range of Viacom partners, to accelerate its growth in the U.S. and all over the world.”

“Since our launch less than five years ago, and particularly over the past year, Pluto TV has enjoyed explosive growth and become the category leader in free streaming television,” said Pluto TV CEO and co-founder Tom Ryan in a statement. “Viacom’s portfolio of global, iconic brands and IP, advanced advertising leadership and international reach will enable Pluto TV to grow even faster and become a major force in streaming TV worldwide. Viacom is the perfect partner to help us accomplish our mission of entertaining the planet.”

Ryan will continue to serve as CEO of Pluto TV, which will operate as an independent subsidiary of Viacom upon closing of the transaction, according to the Viacom press release. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019, the release stated.

Founded in 2013, Pluto TV streams more than 100 channels and thousands of hours of on-demand content spanning television and movies, sports, news, lifestyle, comedy, cartoons, gaming and trending digital series, according to the release. The AVOD service features programming sourced from more than 130 partnerships with media networks, major film and television studios and a wide range of digital content producers.

Pluto TV has more than 12 million monthly active users, 7.5 million of which are on connected TVs, according to the release. Its audience streams billions of minutes of content each month across devices such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Sony PlayStation consoles, as well as built-in integrations on smart TVs from Samsung and Vizio, and mobile apps on Android and iOS, the release stated. Pluto TV has also secured new distribution deals that will make the service available on tens of millions of additional devices in the coming months, according to the release.

“The acquisition of Pluto TV will advance Viacom’s key strategic priorities, including expanding its presence across next-generation distribution platforms and growing its advanced advertising business,” the press release stated. “Additionally, access to Viacom’s global reach, leading brands and vast, unencumbered library will help solidify Pluto TV as the leader in the free streaming video market in the U.S. and accelerate Pluto TV’s global growth.”

The deal “benefits from Viacom’s strategic decision to curtail the licensing of large library packages to SVOD over the last two years,” according to the release.

Viacom’s current-window programming will remain in the pay-TV ecosystem on its branded networks, the release stated.

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