Bob Bakish, president and CEO of Viacom, joins CNBC's 'Squawk on the Street' to discuss Viacom's cash deal to buy Pluto TV, gaining direct access to Pluto's 12 million monthly active users.
This Entrepreneur Started a Streaming Service for His 2-Year-Old. Five Years Later, Viacom Bought It for $340 Million
When serial entrepreneur Ilya Pozin and his co-founder Tom Ryan launched Pluto TV in 2014, the idea went against the grain. The future of online entertainment looked like it would be mostly on-demand, subscription-based, and ad-free--à la Netflix or Hulu. Meanwhile, Pluto TV would stream over 100 channels of live cable TV for free--no sign-up required--and use ads to make money. (The startup later added on-demand content.) Five years later, Pozin and Ryan's bet is paying off. In January, Viacom agreed to acquire Los Angeles-based Pluto TV for $340 million in cash. Having mainly operated in the U.S., the acquisition will give Pluto TV access to Viacom's massive library of content and the opportunity to expand faster internationally, chief growth officer Pozin told Inc. Viacom, composed of networks like Comedy Central, MTV, and Nickelodeon, has more than 700 million subscribers and operates in over 160 countries. Going global while maintaining a lead in the U.S. is not easy, as it requires more resources and unique content, Pozin admits. Pluto TV had raised $50 million in funding to date and has 12 million monthly active users.
Viacom Acquires Video-Streaming Service Pluto TV
Viacom Inc. VIAB -2.79% said it bought the ad-supported video-streaming service Pluto TV for $340 million in cash, a move that gives the pay-television giant another entrée to the realm of online video. Acquiring Pluto TV will allow Viacom to increase the digital audience for its programming, while giving the owner of networks such as Nickelodeon and MTV instant scale for its online advertising business.
Viacom agrees to buy ad-supported streaming service Pluto TV for $340 million
Viacom has agreed to acquire streaming service Pluto TV for $340 million in cash, the latest piece of its strategy to build a streaming business as consumers cut the cord. Pluto TV is a free, ad-supported service that has given over-the-top viewers a video option that doesn't require a cable subscription or monthly payments to Netflix. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter, the companies said in a statement on Tuesday. For Viacom, which owns MTV, Comedy Central and VH1, the acquisition could help in future negotiations with pay-TV distributors. Viacom plans to let carriers such as Comcast and Charter offer the service
Sky-Backed Streaming Service Pluto TV Launching on Now TV in U.K.
Pluto is extending its orbit to Europe. The free streaming service has set the U.K. as the first stop of an international roll-out and will become available via Sky’s Now TV service in Britain starting Monday evening. Sky was an early investor in Pluto. Now TV is Sky’s low-cost streaming service. Pluto TV will be a free app for consumers with Now TV set-tops or smart sticks. Olivier Jollet, Pluto TV’s managing director for Europe, told Variety that Pluto TV would complement the paid-for fare on Now TV. “Netflix is launching on Now TV as well and I think it’s interesting to bring Pluto to these kind of devices,” Jollet said. “[Consumers] want great original series, but there is room for all kinds of content and especially a more lean-back approach. We want to bring the lean-back into the OTT world.”
Samsung Becomes the Latest Phone Maker to Invest in Online TV with PlutoTV Investment
Samsung Venture Investment Corp., a unit of the South Korean company, is making a $5 million investment in Los-Angeles based Pluto TV, the companies confirmed in a statement to NBC News. Other unnamed investors added $3.3 million more to the funding round. Pluto TV is one of the biggest ad-supported online TV channel distributors, with about 6 million subscribers. It distributes more than 100 live TV channels from news and sports to cooking and kids' cartoons channels.
Free streaming TV service Pluto TV raises $8.3M, in new round led by Samsung
Free streaming TV service Pluto TV announced today it has received a new $5 million investment from Samsung Venture Investment Corporation, the VC arm of the Samsung Group. Combined with other investors, the full round totaled $8.3 million, the company says. The round follows a $30 million Series B for the streaming service, announced a year ago, which valued the business at $140 million. Investors then included ProSieben of Germany and Scripps Network Interactive, among others. While that round was more focused on helping fuel Pluto TV’s expansion into the European market, the funds from Samsung could be viewed as more of a strategic investment from a partner. (Pluto TV already streams its content on Samsung Smart TVs.)
Streaming TV service Pluto TV adds an on-demand video library
In an effort to be more competitive in the streaming TV market, the ad-supported streaming service Pluto TV announced this morning it will expand its offering of live streaming channels to include a large library of on-demand movies and television shows. The launch of on-demand content comes shortly after the company announced licensing deals with Lionsgate, MGM and Warner Bros. The news was first reported by Variety, which also noted that Pluto TV has more than 6 million monthly viewers and may consider a subscription service tier in the future.
Pluto TV Announces New Premium Content Partners
Pluto TV, the leading free Internet television service in America, announced today new premium content partnerships with premier networks, studios, and digital media brands. These new partnerships, with premium content providers such as Lionsgate, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), and Warner Bros. will power the 100+ channels found on Pluto TV with content that includes thousands of hit movies and TV shows. These partnerships will provide Pluto TV viewers with free access to movies such as MGM's Silence of the Lambs and The Usual Suspects, and Lionsgate's Haywire, Brothers, & Bad Boys as well as complete TV shows like Warner Bros.'s The Ben Stiller Show and Super Fun Night.
Pluto TV Taps Former E! Exec Robert Magdlen as Chief Programming Officer
Free online-video network Pluto TV has hired Robert Magdlen, former SVP of program strategy and acquisitions for NBCUniversal’s E!, as chief programming officer. At E!, Magdlen was part of the team that launched the “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” reality TV series and Chelsea Handler’s “Chelsea Lately” talk show. He oversaw programming strategies behind E!’s forays into scripted with “The Royals”; reality TV series including “Total Divas”; and other series including “The Soup” and “Fashion Police.” In addition, he was the executive in charge
Cheddar Announces New Millennial-Focused Business Network To Launch On Pluto TV
Cheddar, the popular live and on demand network, today launched a business news network on Pluto TV, the leading OTT destination for free television in America. Cheddar is programming the millennial focused network with its live shows, Opening Bell and Between Bells, which are broadcast from the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange and the Sprint Flatiron Building Store.
Pluto TV wins backing from ProSieben and Scripps Networks, Raises $30M
Pluto TV, the free internet television service, has raised new funding from investors including ProSieben of Germany and Scripps Networks Interactive as it lays the groundwork for European expansion. The company has raised $30m, valuing it at $140m — a near fivefold increase on its first round two years ago, according to people briefed on the fundraising.
The Economist: Changing the Channel
Pluto TV Brings Its Streaming Video App To Apple TV With Improved Look, More Licensed Content
Pluto TV, a video streaming service targeting cord cutters, has differentiated itself from other over-the-top competitors like Netflix by offering a more TV-like experience with over 100 “channels” you flip through in an interface that looks similar to a traditional TV guide. Now the company is bringing its lean-back video-viewing platform to Apple TV, with plans for Roku right around the corner. The new app also features an updated look-and-feel to better highlight its channels, including a number of channels offering newly licensed content Pluto TV has been adding to its service over the past few months.
Streaming Video Startup Pluto TV Nabs Spotify’s Chief Content Officer
Pluto TV, an L.A.-based video streaming startup targeting cord cutters, has just made a significant new hire: the company is bringing on Ken Parks, previously the chief content officer at Spotify, to serve as Pluto TV’s executive chairman. Working out of New York, Parks will be tasked with leading Pluto TV’s content, distribution and monetization efforts going forward, among other things. However, he will remain a special adviser to Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek following his departure from the streaming music service.
Chromecast gets new CBS, HGTV, FOX Now, FXNOW, Pluto TV, and Haystack apps
Ever since Google launched the Chromecast in July 2013, the company has been steadily updating the HDMI dongle with new capabilities and features. Today, the company has announced six new apps for its $35 streaming media stick: CBS All Access, HGTV, FOX Now, FXNOW, Pluto TV, and Haystack. While the last one is a news app (tuned specifically to your interests so that you can keep up with current events), the other five apps are all about TV content. As a Google spokesperson told us, Chromecast users now have more options: “They can binge through shows like Empire, The Big Bang Theory, NCIS, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Americans, Property Brothers, and Fixer Upper.”
Pluto TV Takes $13M for its Free Linear TV Streaming Service
A lot of tech reporting tends to paint traditional (and expensive) cable TV service’s linear video watching experience as awful, but anyone who’s lived alone knows sometimes it’s just nice to have a TV channel on in the background. If that channel is airing content that’s somewhat interesting/entertaining, even better. That’s why streaming video platform Pluto TV is kind of brilliant. It offers free access to over a hundred different video streams (aka channels), which are preprogrammed the way TV channels are. And those channels are filled with things you’d actually want to watch, such as anime, gadget reviews, and original web series. There’s even an entire channel devoted to marijuana. But it also has quite a few “background” channels, such as an endless video feed of adorable puppies, ice cream melting (literally), and trains traveling through the European countryside. (That last one — Slow TV — is my personal favorite to fall asleep to.)
Web video service Pluto.tv lands on connected televisions with an app for Amazon’s Fire TV
Oline video service Pluto.tv has released its first native set-top box app with the launch of an Amazon Fire TV version. Pluto.tv launched back in March with curated channels of continuous Web video content presented through a familiar TV guide-like interface. For instance, a top music program collects YouTube and Vevo music videos from the latest chart-toppers and then plays them as a single program.
Web-Video Startup Pluto.tv Finds Its CEO
Pluto.TV didn’t have to search to the end of the solar system to find its CEO: Cofounder Tom Ryan has been tapped to lead the new web-video platform, Mashable has learned. Launched one month ago, the free service brings web videos into a more TV-like environment, with something like the “channel guide” that pops up from your cable remote. The multiplatform service is available on Apple’s iTunes store and Android’s Google Play, and began life with guest content curators including hip-hop artist Nas. Ryan, an experienced executive and investor, is the former CEO of online clothing retailer and community Threadless and still serves on its board, as well as the boards of music creation community Smule and men’s clothing service Trunk Club.
Pluto TV Launches With 85 Channels Of Free, TV-Style Internet Video
It was tough to pay attention to Nick Grouf as a video stream of bone-crushing skateboard wipeouts played about two feet from my face. Thankfully he soon switched to a surfing channel, which showed a film that followed a group of female surfers travelling across the South Pacific. It was all sunsets and bikinis and turquoise waves. Again, it was tough to pay attention. In a visit to FORBES earlier this month, Grouf showed off Pluto.TV, a web service that takes the traditional television format—live, linear feeds divvied up into shows and channels—and slaps it onto thousands of hours of Internet video. It’s a concept that sounds dubious on the surface, but works surprisingly well in practice.