Commentary

Pluto TV Tries To Fill The OTT Commercial Void

Netflix is how virtually everybody seems to get started streaming content and about the second thing they notice is that there aren’t any commercials. It’s like a gateway drug.

Well, while Netflix has gathered you all here…

Today, Pluto TV, a free, ad-supported service that has been around since 2014, announced it will also launch an on-demand service featuring movies and TV it’s getting as part of a deal with Lionsgate, Warner Bros. and MGM. There are some good titles in there, too.

According to Variety, Pluto TV will make available films like “Silence of the Lambs,” “Dances with Wolves,” “Vanilla Sky” and “The Usual Suspects.”

Pluto TV already gives viewers 75 to 100 “TV channels,” actually other online offerings like AwesomenessTV, The Onion, Pop Sugar, Newsy, the infamous RT Today and many others, arranged in a grid that is similar to a cable onscreen program guide (or, for that matter, the guides subscribers to the new streaming services, DirecTV Now and Playstation Vue and Hulu get.)

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Variety says Pluto TV has made deals CNN’s Great Big Story, Hearst Entertainment, Al Jazeera, The Orchard, Defy Media, Machinima, Studio71, and Tastemade. FremantleMedia, Endemol Shine International, Yahoo, CNBC, Cheddar and Masha. It’s available via all the devices like Roku and Amazon, and on some smart TVs

As streaming has grown, the idea of commercially-supported streaming seems to be heading for its day in the spotlight. YouTube announced it will be hosting seven new TV-like series with 40 episodes, with stars like Kevin Hart and Ellen DeGeneres, with sponsors, like TV.  (but I’d bet not the kind of commercials you see on TV.)

“Why now, after all these years, do we feel the time is right for ad-supported originals?” asked Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s chief business officer at its NewFront event. ”Frankly, because they’re becoming more and more rare.”

Pluto TV claims six million monthly, but it would seem that right about now is the time for those commercially-supported streamers to kick into gear, and finally capitalize on the millions of customers who are now showing up

According to data that’s out there--and there’s a lot--viewers now spend more time viewing digital content (5 hours, 50 minutes a day) than they do watching television on television (4 hours and four minutes), a stat that is complicated because a lot of that is watching television programming via a digital device.

Increasing though, Internet connected viewing devices like Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast accounted for 9.9% of total TV usage in February, up 6% the year before and 3.6% in February 2015, according to Pivotal Research Group

Those services, like Popcornflix, TubiTV, Crackle and Pluto TV are not, despite their hype, are not chock full of the greatest programs and movies starring the world’s best actors. But that’s not to say you can’t find gems, but just as often you will find the movie everybody involved wants to forget.

As they hang around, the OTTosphere, they seem more and more like independent TV stations were back in the spooky days of UHF, waiting for technology and consumers--and advertisers-- to find them. That seemed to work. 


pjbednarski@comcast.net

@pjbtweet

3 comments about "Pluto TV Tries To Fill The OTT Commercial Void".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 16, 2017 at 4:48 p.m.

    P.J. adults devote far, far, more time to TV content than to digital videos. It's not even close. The fact that they are spending a lot of time doing other digital things--researching, shopping, making phone calls, texting, tweeting, etc. ---is not relevant. If it was, why isn't TV viewing time plunging? It isn't.

  2. pj bednarski from MediaPost.com, May 16, 2017 at 5:16 p.m.

    Ed, I think I say pretty clearly--the third last paragraph and the fourth last paragraph--that TV viewing is still far dominant, just less dominant.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 16, 2017 at 5:24 p.m.

    >P.J. my point is that many people who read articles such as this are woefully misinformed ---or are dreaming about digital replacing TV as the advertisers' medium of choice. So, when they read that Americans spend more time with digital media than TV, they missinterpret what you are saying or, simply ignore an additional comment that "TV is still dominant". If the latter is true--where video consumption is concerned---and it is by a huge margin, what's the value of sayinr, earlier in the piece, that we spend more time with digital media than TV. It sounds contradictory to me.

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