In the exploding world of online TV viewing, it may seem like all the real gravity and momentum is with subscription and on-demand providers.
Netflix, Amazon and, soon, Disney+ will have garnered significant market share.
But a growing school of thought posits that, whilst the subscription video-on-demand rivals scrap it out in a segment increasingly hostile to ads, ad-supported TV alternatives will certainly continue to have a place.
That is a view espoused by Pluto, the streaming TV service which Viacom acquired for $340 million in January. And, unlike conventional virtual MVPDs, Pluto does not simply retransmit providers’ channels – it curates their shows in to feeds. That means it can manage its own ad inventory.
“Pluto is the largest ad-supported streaming television service in the country,” says Raoul Marinescu, Pluto TV VP revenue partnerships, in this video interview with Beet.TV. “We have over 15 million monthly active users on Pluto TV across various devices and platforms, across all devices and platforms actually.”
Already following the acquisition, Viacom has confirmed it will bring its major networks to the streaming service, telling TechCrunch: “We believe that free, ad-supported video is still an enormous opportunity:”
- BET Pluto TV
- Comedy Central Pluto TV
- MTV Pluto TV
- Nick Pluto TV
- Nick Jr. Pluto TV
- Spike Pluto TV
- CMT Westerns
- MTV Dating
- Comedy Central Stand-Up
- MTV Guy Code
- MTV Teen
- Paramount Movie Channel
- Spike Outdoors
- MTV’s The Hills
Whilst the likes of Netflix go hard on on-demand and ad-free, Pluto thinks there is a big need to continue a linear viewing experience, one that also includes ads.
“We’ve done a lean back experience,” Marinescu adds. “We take that content and we just schedule it the way we think (viewers) would want to experience that content. It’s not taking the linear feed off the cable network, it’s actually just taking content and stitching it together and building a unique channel that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.”
To support the ad sales for that, Marinescu uses a mix of direct sales, programmatic and partners like Premion and NCC Media.
“FreeWheel is our ad server,” he adds. “FreeWheel is the decision engine that we use at Pluto, a very important partner for Pluto TV and they help us make decisions on prioritizing our ad stack, prioritizing on who we call, when we call, organizing our waterfall. They continuously play a big part in dynamic ad insertion and also in demand facilitation and getting more open auction demand that’s out there that we haven’t really been able to take advantage of.”