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Pluto TV Remains High Point In 2Q 2021 For ViacomCBS

Michael King

Pluto TV has continued to be a high-point for ViacomCBS, according to company executives during Thursday morning’s 2Q 2021 Earnings Call.

According to the earnings call, Pluto TV reached 52 million monthly active users globally at the end of Q2 2021, from 50 million last quarter. The company didn’t disclose domestic monthly actives. At the end of 2020, Pluto TV has reached 30.1 million monthly active users in the U.S.

The ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) streamer was acquired by ViacomCBS in January 2019, and separates curated content into individual channels for viewers.

Much of the content on Pluto comes from the ViacomCBS portfolio, but a significant amount also comes from other domestic and international sources.

“We have, as I mentioned, continued to add quality, high-quality content to Pluto in the last year,” ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish said. “We have doubled the number of hours (of content) from 100,000 hours to 200,000 hours; a chunk of that is certainly from ViacomCBS, but a bunch of that is third party (content) as well.”

Pluto TV content is currently available in 25 countries and has 52 million active monthly users, according to ViacomCBS data shared on Wednesday.

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.

“We’re incredibly excited and proud,” Tom Ryan, CEO of streaming at ViacomCBS and a co-founder of Pluto, said in an interview with Deadline. “We scaled it from a contrarian idea to over a billion dollars in revenue in seven years.”

During the call, Bakish said the advertising revenue has been a solid win for the company.

“When we acquired Pluto at the beginning of ‘19. It came off a 2018 revenue base of $70 million,” he said. “In this third year of owning it, it’ll do over a billion (dollars).”

In comparison, while ViacomCBS was bullish on the expansion of Pluto TV, Fox was excited, but in a somewhat different fashion on the success of its AVOD streamer Tubi during its quarterly Earnings Call late Wednesday.

Fox is much more interested in getting its viewers to increase the number of hours spent with its properties as opposed to tallying up subscribers, according to Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch.

Tubi

Tubi is a free video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 35,000 movies and television shows. Fox executives have called their service “TV on steroids.”

Tubi’s programming includes films and television series from Fox Entertainment, MGM, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., NBCUniversal, Disney, and more.

He said the company was still planning on generating original content for Tubi, but not to the scale or level as seen from its competitors.

“Tubi Originals has only just begun to launch, but we are seeing the return in very short order. These movies are very price effective, and we’re able — through Tubi technology — to really target them very specifically to very well-defined genres,” Murdoch said.

Some content would come from Fox’s unscripted arm and from its Bento Box animated subsidiary with an eye toward a fall launch. In addition, Tubi will continue to roll out local news content to go along with its existing news content, plus new sports content that will include, according to Murdoch, an NFL channel.

Murdoch said the company was interested in seeing results from Tubi in terms of “weeks, not years.” According to Murdoch, while their investment would remain modest, it would generate good returns over time.

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