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Pluto TV VP Lays Out ‘Something for Everyone’ Strategy to Stay Ahead of FAST Rivals

Ben Bowman

When it comes to free ad-supported TV, Pluto TV and Tubi are locked in an all-out battle for audience domination. Pluto TV scores with its mind-boggling list of themed live channels, while Tubi has the edge in on-demand. As vMVPD prices soar higher by the day, FAST services offer a great alternative and a supplement to your SVOD subscriptions like Hulu or HBO Max. The scale of some of these services are enormous, and that’s acting as a magnet for content in need of a home.

Will Gurman, VP of Global Content Partnerships at Pluto TV, spoke to the nScreenMedia podcast about that platform’s aspirations, and how they’ve managed to succeed.

“One way we’ve really focused and continue to focus is differentiating on our channels and making sure that while we don’t have original content, the majority of our time channels can’t be found on other platforms,” Gurman said. “A great example of that recently was a channel that we’ve launched with Professional Bull Riders — a fantastic organization with a fan base of over 80 million in the US. We quickly learned about their marketing strength, how strong and important their fan base was, and what their experience had been as a niche SVOD service, looking to potentially transition to a new business model that can help them reach a broader audience. (They could) lean on a third party like a Pluto to take advantage of our distribution and our reach to really transform their business model. So that’s a channel that is exclusive on Pluto. It’s called PBR Ride Pass. And we are certainly looking to do more types of opportunities like that with other companies.”

PBR has shuttered its SVOD plan and streams exclusively on Pluto TV. It’s a win-win for both parties. PBR gets greater reach and splits ad revenue with Pluto TV, Pluto TV gets to absorb PBR fans and introduce them to the other offerings on the platform.

“We worked hand-in-hand with them on the marketing messaging that went out to all their subscribers on the way that this would transform from an SVOD to an AVOD to make sure that we were continuing to provide live events to their fans (and to) give the catalog and replay of content that their fans love to see. And it’s been a fantastic partnership so far,” Gurman said.

Pluto TV appears to have an appetite to pull off more of these transformations in the future. “It’s also just not about the PBR channel in isolation, we have a strong audience that likes content that we felt would be a strong overlap,” Gurman said. “We have channels of outdoor content, we have action movies, ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ is great overlapping content. And so for us, it’s using and working with PBR to bring audiences in, but also used as a funnel to get into other channels and other content. And similarly, we want fans who are showing up for these broad categories to go find and discover PBR. We don’t look at these channels in isolation. I think that’s the benefit of Pluto as both a platform and a programmer in that we are fine with people going back and forth among our platform and our different channels to discover we want people to just stay engaged and continue to have reasons to come back to Pluto.”

The service may look to target other niche fan bases as well. “There’s a power to having those passionate fan bases where you might not have the same expectations of total viewing minutes in the aggregate as, say, our biggest movie channel, but you might look at a certain channel and the users come back three-to-four times more frequently and they watch for two-to-three times longer,” Gurman said. “As I mentioned, you want to kind of continue in the ecosystem and help them find other channels. So we really try to offer something for everyone. So I think there’s there’s a home for all content that has a very strong fan base.”

Pluto TV

Pluto TV is a free live TV streaming service that provides more than 250 channels of live TV and thousands of on demand movies and TV shows.

Most of what you’ll find on Pluto TV qualifies as “background television.” It’s fine to keep on while you’re scrolling on your phone or cooking something in the kitchen.

Because these aren’t traditional live TV channels, it’s not a great option for live events, news, or sports, but it’s a solid choice for cord cutters who want to supplement their other services with some “comfort food” TV. You’ll find channels dedicated to “Star Trek,” “CSI,” “Jersey Shore,” “Survivor,” and “The Amazing Race.”

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