An avalanche of new video-streaming services makes it difficult for users to opt for the greatest variety of content while avoiding a dent in their wallets. Eyeing the price-sensitive audience, Pluto TV, the free platform of the American media giant ViacomCBS, intends to carve its space in Latin America.
The company confirmed to LABS that it will debut in Brazil in late 2020. Less than a month ago, it launched in 17 Spanish-speaking Latin American countries, whose figures the firm still does not disclose. Ambition must be big, though. In the United States, Pluto TV has 22 million active users per month.
“We want everyone to find their favorite movie, series or show on Pluto TV and be able to enjoy it in their language, safely and free of charge”, said senior director of content and programming at Pluto TV, Arelys Carballo.
The trade-off: free with ads
Free is the first of two keywords in this story. Pluto TV seeks to win over those users who would not mind watching ads in exchange for free content. The experience is somewhat similar to that of YouTube: ad breaks lasting no more than two minutes appear regularly during shows.
Despite being in the streaming category, Pluto TV is a hybrid that offers both continuous programming and on-demand content, a feature that may attract different user profiles. There are no live shows, since content is curated, but titles are available on channels with different themes or via viewers request.
“Therefore, we believe that Pluto TV will make a difference within the OTT scenario in the region”, Carballo says. OTT, or over-the-top, is the segment of streaming services offered through the internet, instead of cable, satellite or broadcasting.
Local content from partnerships
The second keyword in the company’s strategy for Latin America is regionalization. It is not yet in the platform’s plans to invest in original content, but local market programming is offered as agreements are reached with content producers.
Pluto TV Latin America currently offers 12,000 hours of content from around 60 partners and is available in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Paraguay, El Salvador, Uruguay and Venezuela.
All 17 Spanish-speaking countries in the region receive the same content, but regional adjustments are not ruled out. “That decision is part of the strategy for Latin America and any modifications will be made according to audience preferences and alliances with content and distribution partners”, stated Carballo.
A second Latin American platform: in Portuguese
Brazil’s Pluto TV will offer content that is different from the ones seen in Spanish-speaking markets. But the company does not disclose anything other than its Brazilian library will be home to “a lot of local and international content in a friendly and easy to use platform.”
In Latin America, Pluto TV has around 30 channels such as Pluto TV Series, Pluto TV Cinema, Pluto TV Anime and Pluto TV Kids. According to the company, the intention is to incorporate new channels monthly to reach 70. “We have recently added to the menu 6 new channels: Pluto TV Fútbol for Fans, Pluto TV Hogar, Pluto TV Teen, Degrassi, Minute for Ganar and MasterChef, in addition to the “Maratones”, a section for binge-watching viewers.
But the streaming wars will be unforgiving. Even in the field of free platforms, Pluto TV will face competitors such as Plex, already available in some Latin American countries and also looking for deals with local partners.
To gain its space among subscription-based giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, Pluto TV’s weapon is to start with the advantage of a good content collection. ViacomCBS, which acquired Pluto TV for $340 million in January 2019, also owns channels like MTV, Nickelodeon, the American network CBS and Telefe, from Argentina, in addition to the movie studio Paramount, which are all already on the Latin American platform, as well as dozens of others assets.
“In a sense, ViacomCBS’ free streaming service is aimed at all segments, so that everyone can access the best linear and on-demand content across multiple devices”, says Carballo. According to the executive, Latin American viewers are interested in dramas, action and horror films and series of all genres. Children’s content is also doing very well across the region.
The platform is available via web browser (at pluto.tv), Apple TV, Android TV and mobile apps for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.
Pluto TV Latin America’s content providers already include: A2 Filmes, All3Media, BBC Studios, Big Media, Blue Ant Media, Caracol, Castalia, CDC International, Cineflix, Cisneros Media, Combate Americas, DRG, Endemol Shine, FilmRise, Fremantle , Glory Sports, Hard Knocks Fighting, Hearst, Impact Wrestling, Inverleigh, Kinpil, Latin Angels, Leda Films, Legendary Entertainment, Life Design, Lionsgate, Marvista, MPI Media, MTV, Nelvana, New Dominion, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, Off The Fence, Otro.com, Paramount, Polar Star, Pongalo, Sabbatical Entertainment, Samuel Goldwyn, Sonar Entertainment, Sony Pictures Television, Spanglish Movies, Telefe, Televix, The Asylum, TV Azteca, VIP 2000, Viz Media, Wildbrain and World Poker Tour.