M&E Connections

Viacom Strengthens Streaming Strategy by Adding its Flagship Brands to Pluto TV

Viacom is widening its streaming presence by adding the company’s four most iconic network brands to the Pluto TV free streaming TV service May 1.

Viacom is adding BET, Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon to Pluto TV, which now has more than 15 million monthly active users, Viacom pointed out in its April 29 announcement that was made at its second annual Digital Content NewFronts event at the PlayStation Theater in New York.

With the addition of Pluto TV, Viacom’s digital video impressions will grow to 5 billion impressions per month by 2020, it predicted.

Content from Viacom’s extensive library of intellectual property (IP) will be made available via three categories of branded channels: Co-Branded Flagship Channels that are curated versions of Viacom’s leading networks; Signature Channels featuring what it described in a news release as “the most celebrated and diversified programming from each brand”; and Pop-Up Channels that it said will “deliver binge-worthy series in marathon-style airings, starting with” MTV’s “The Hills” — in time for the revival series “The Hills: New Beginnings” that premieres June 24.

The new Viacom Channels on Pluto TV will include BET Pluto TV, Comedy Central Pluto TV, MTV Pluto TV, Nick Pluto TV, Nick Jr. Pluto TV, Spike Pluto TV, CMT Westerns, Comedy Central Stand-Up, MTV Dating, MTV Guy Code, MTV Teen, Paramount Movie Channel and Spike Outdoors

The expansion of the Pluto TV offering is a “major step forward in our mission of entertaining the planet,” Tom Ryan, CEO and co-founder of Pluto TV, said in the announcement. He added that the Viacom channels are “guaranteed to provide endless entertainment to both new and existing Pluto TV viewers.”

Viacom bought the ad-supported Pluto TV for $340 million in cash in early 2019. In announcing the acquisition in January, Viacom said the deal would “advance Viacom’s key strategic priorities, including expanding its presence across next-generation distribution platforms and growing its advanced advertising business.” The access that Pluto TV would be getting to Viacom’s “global reach, leading brands and vast, unencumbered library will help solidify Pluto TV as the leader in the free streaming video market in the U.S., and accelerate Pluto TV’s global growth,” Viacom said.

Viacom returned to the NewFronts event April 29 “after a year of rapid digital acceleration and momentum across the leading social and online video platforms,” Kelly Day, president of Viacom Digital Studios, said in the announcement. Viacom’s “growth continues to be driven by an investment in premium original programming and experiences that engage our young, diverse audiences on the platforms they love most, presenting an unprecedented opportunity for our advertising partners to join the conversation,” she said.

Viacom Digital Studios plans to “produce new and returning original series around major tentpole events, linear franchises and the most popular digital shows from Awesomeness, BET, Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon,” the company said, adding it’s also joining forces with “big-name stars and fan-favorite digital talent to deliver entirely new programming across Facebook, Snap, Twitter and YouTube for Viacom’s more than 880 million fans — the largest social footprint among entertainment companies.”

Since Viacom Digital Studios was launched, Viacom brands have seen “year-over-year domestic increases in social video views and watch time by 83% and 119%, respectively, with a global average of 4 billion views and over 6 billion minutes watched each month,” the company said.

“We have made incredible strides over the past year due to our acquisitions and expansion to grow our digital reach significantly to the direct benefit of our advertising partners,” Sean Moran, head of ad solutions at Viacom, said. He added: “With more touch points than ever before, we look forward to leveraging the full scale and power of Viacom to help our clients create real, authentic connections with our highly coveted and hard-to-reach young audiences wherever they are.”