When you know what Pluto TV is and how it works, you probably find it a waste to keep paying for a movie and series streaming service. It is one of the new and modern alternatives that offer programming from more than 200 channels, thousands of movies and TV series completely free of charge.
As Pluto TV supports the WatchFree service on Vizio TVs, it is likely to become increasingly popular. You may consider that this is a deceptive offer and that there is something else behind these promises, but no. Pluto TV differs from traditional live TV in several ways, so you’ll be wise to read this article carefully before cutting off your cable subscription.
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What is Pluto TV?
Owned by Viacom since March 2019, it is a live TV streaming service, similar to Sling TV, AT&T TV Now, Hulu Live TV or other similar services. But unlike those platforms, which offer access to the channels that are on cable television, Pluto TV offers free content, mainly selected from what is already available online.
This feature makes it a service similar to Rabbit TV, which costs $ 24 per year, with the difference that Pluto TV has been offered at no cost since its launch in 2014, which has allowed it to gain momentum quite quickly. The service had more than 20 million active users as of November 2019, making it the largest free television broadcast platform in the United States. These numbers could only grow, since it is available in Latin America since March and by the end of 2020 it will be expanded to Brazil.
On Pluto TV, you’ll find content from well-known channels, as well as some that you’ve probably never heard of, if you don’t watch a lot of videos online. Even if you are subscribed to a live TV streaming service, you should definitely consider using this option, which is quite rich in content.
In March 2020, Pluto stirred things up by presenting with its new user interface, which makes it easy to discover and play content. Navigation is linearity is central, allowing you to jump to any of the main categories of live TV: sports, movies, news, entertainment, comedy, with one or two clicks maximum. This philosophy extends to the video-on-demand interface, which offers more fun categories like “comedy room” while preserving the spirit of a traditional TV guide.
In addition, you can now specify your favorite channels to make it easier to find it in a list of more than 250 and you can also save individual programs, clips and movies. If you choose something you want to see, Pluto offers you a preview panel to show more information such as the list of actors, directors and trailers.
How does Pluto TV differ from WatchFree from Vizio televisions?
Basically WatchFree it is Pluto TV, although it is only included as such on Vizio televisions and works slightly differently than the application does on other devices. On Vizio televisions, WatchFree appears as an input, similar to how your cable box, a streaming device (such as a Roku or Apple TV), or a game console would. All the programming that you will find in WatchFree is exactly the same, since Pluto is the one that provides coverage for that service. Aside from the name and some specific interface differences, most of what you’re reading in this article can be applied to the Vizio WatchFree.
What channels are available?
You can quickly review the content library of a free service, but there’s a lot to it, especially with more than 175 content partners offering entertainment on more than 240 channels. You will find some categories of regular programming like news, sports, movies, entertainment and comedy and you can also enjoy other more internet-related programs, such as the “Chill Out”, “Life + Style” and “Geek + Gaming” sections.
Although standard television channels are not very popular in this service, you can find some that are represented through their web counterparts, such as Bloomberg, Cheddar, CNBC, MSNBC, CBSN, The Weather Network and many others. Since April 2019, it joined CNN, although not the signal you get on cable, but a channel with short-format digital content, with clips geared towards lifestyle and culture, climate change, the environment and research. and original interviews. And in December 2019, he added CMT and Red Bull along with new thematic channels, aimed especially at fans of pop culture and reality shows.
Sports coverage is less traditional. For example, it doesn’t offer channels like ESPN, but at least you’ll find options like Fight, World Poker Tour, Impact Wrestling, a network dedicated to Sports News, Glory Kickboxing, and Big Sky Network. DAZN recently signed an agreement for an original weekly series, but the possibility exists to expand this partnership in the future. In addition, it added an official PGA Tour channel, which provides 24/7 coverage to one of the largest golf tournaments.
In the entertainment section, replays of reality shows and documentaries, such as episodes of Dennis The Menace, Thunderbirds and other older television shows. Among those various channels, you’ll also find Wipeout, a network that only shows replays of the popular game show and several iterations from different countries, as well as Nosy, which shows replays of The Jerry Springer Show and The Maury Show, among others. The Curiosity section features Science TV, Docu TV, Xive TV and even a live stream from NASA. New additions include Pluto TV Sitcoms, which offers a selection of older comedies like 3rd Rock from the Sun and The Lucy Show, and a Spanish channel, Pluto TV Cine.
That type of hyper-focused network is part of the essence of Pluto TV, which also has Stand Up, a channel dedicated only to that type of comedy, Anime All Day and a channel dedicated to “fails”. Other similar channels include Slow TV, which displays relaxing images, Pluto TV Travel, and Cats 24/7, which are self-explanatory.
In June 2020, he incorporated the channels The FBI archives, Babar, Animals, Romance Cinema, Suspense Cinema and Anime Action, where you can follow series such as free and legal Naruto, bleach and Death. These are in addition to those that arrived in May 2020: Soccer for Fans, Home, Teens and Marathons.
Various internet radio stations are also available, provided by Dash Radio, which is also available as a separate service. The most modern types of music such as hip-hop, electronic music and pop are the most prevalent, although the stations are also available with classic rock, soul and jazz.
What devices can I use to watch Pluto TV?
The service can be transmitted through the web browser, but it also offers desktop applications for Windows and Mac computers, although it is important to know that they can only be used in the US For their part, mobile applications are also available on iOS and Android devices, with separate US and international versions and offer different channels due to streaming rights issues.
If you prefer to watch on your TV a series of devices that include Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Android TV devices and the PlayStation 4, don’t worry because these also offer Pluto TV applications. Also, Samsung, Sony, and Vizio smart TVs are supported, and the company’s website says more is on the way.
All the applications we have tested show the same interface, without significant differences between the platforms, with one exception that we will see below.
What about ordering content?
The offer on demand of Pluto TV has some television programs, especially TLC and Discovery Channel, although the vast majority of cases you will find are movies.
Available content changes frequently, and the service promises new hit movies every week. This constant rotation makes it difficult to know too much in advance what will be available, and it is not on par with services like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, in any case. The company has been bringing in big names, including a distribution agreement with Sony that made it Starship troopers could be seen on Pluto TV. Recently, we have been able to see titles like The Machinist, Patriot Games, Hotel Rwanda, Donnie Darko and Memento. Although it’s not on par with the quality of Netflix content, there are enough titles that could catch your attention and you might find a hidden gem.
On-demand content may not be available on all platforms, or at least not all content may be available. In our tests, both TV and movies were available on demand through most of the platforms we tested (Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, iOS and Roku), although only movies were available on PlayStation 4 on-demand.
We hope that this condition will change in the near future. Let us remember that it is still a relatively new service.
Will Pluto TV stay?
At the moment, it doesn’t seem like Pluto TV is going anywhere. Its parent company, Viacom, has declared that Pluto TV is “a key driver in transforming our company for the future.” Unlike previous projects that aimed to provide shows – like Aereo, for example – Pluto TV seems to be careful enough not to disturb government agencies or other pay TV companies.
Although it’s free, Pluto TV sells advertising on all channels, and judging from our experience, advertisers seem to be buying more every day. With Viacom’s team significantly driving the platform’s marketing efforts, even greater interest is expected among advertisers. Recently, Viacom reported that 3,500 were announced during September 2019, the month with the highest income, and that it has tripled the display of the ads every year. Pluto TV’s agreement with Vizio to bring the WatchFree service now appears to be the first of many, as Viacom begins presenting Pluto TV’s free offerings as an ideal way for cable and satellite companies to regain some of the audience that they are losing with transmission services and “cable cutters”.
There is also some fear that the recent merger of Viacom with CBS may affect the future of Pluto TV, particularly in regards to customer-oriented monetization. While we’re sure we’ll see some changes, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish recently confirmed that Pluto TV will continue to be a free service, according to Cordcutters News. He even pointed to some of the corporate strategy, noting that he would use Pluto TV to sell more premium options like CBS All Access. It is unknown what Pluto TV will look like in 2020 after the Viacom / CBS deal closes, but for now, it seems like there is nothing to worry about.
Is Pluto TV right for you? The easiest way to find out is to download one of the applications on your platform of choice or go to the company’s website and watch for a while. It will not cost you anything more than your time, and given the breadth of the programming, there are quite a few possibilities that you will find something that you like.
If you are looking for a more traditional TV experience on the internet, check out our comparison of the most popular services.
* Article updated by Rodrigo Orellana on June 25, 2020.