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Pluto TV, Angling to Become the Spotify of Premium Video, Launches Free On-Demand Service (EXCLUSIVE)

Pluto TV is now making thousands of free movies and TV shows available through its video-streaming platform on-demand in addition to its TV-like linear channels.

The startup, which claims to have more than 6 million monthly viewers, is expanding the ad-supported service with VOD as it positions itself as a kind of Spotify for premium video. It’s worth noting that Ken Parks, Pluto’s executive chairman, was Spotify’s first U.S. employee and led the music streamer’s negotiations with record labels.

For now, Pluto TV’s services are free to use, but in the future it may adopt a hybrid free/subscription model like Spotify.

Pluto TV is launching the VOD service after inking licensing deals with studios Lionsgate, MGM and Warner Bros. for library-title movies and TV series.

The lineup of free movies available on-demand include Paramount Pictures’ “Vanilla Sky” and MGM’s “Silence of the Lambs,” “The Usual Suspects,” and “Species,” as well as complete TV shows like Lionsgate’s “ALF” and Warner Bros.’s “The Ben Stiller Show” and “Super Fun Night.”

Other movies on VOD include: “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,” “The Birdcage,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “Thelma & Louise,” “Mad Max,” “The Hours,” “Defiance,” “The Kite Runner,” “Dances With Wolves,” “Paulie,” “Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away,” and “Lars and the Real Girl.” TV shows on the VOD platform include “Fear Factor,” “American Hoggers,” “I Love New York,” “The Dead Zone” and “Paranormal State.”

Popular on Variety

Launched in 2014, Pluto TV’s service is designed to mimic traditional TV with more than 100 channels organized into a grid-based guide programmed in linear blocks. That’s proven popular, according to execs — but the on-demand access to programming will likely appeal to an even broader audience.

“We’re excited to give [Pluto users] even more ways to enjoy the content they love, and now they can pick specific movies and TV shows to watch on demand,” said Tom Ryan, CEO of Pluto TV.

Pluto TV’s VOD and 100-plus linear channels are accessible on devices including Amazon’s Fire TV; Roku; Android TV; Google’s Chromecast; smart TVs including those from Vizio, Hisense, and Sony; apps for iOS, Android, and Amazon mobile devices; Sony’s PlayStation game console; and on the web at pluto.tv.

In addition to the deals with Lionsgate, MGM and WB, Pluto TV has signed recent content partnerships with others including CNN’s Great Big Story, Hearst Entertainment, Al Jazeera, The Orchard, Defy Media, Machinima, Studio71, and Tastemade. The streaming service also has deals with FremantleMedia, Endemol Shine International, Yahoo, CNBC, Cheddar and Mashable.

Pluto TV last fall announced $30 million in Series B funding, led by German media giant ProSiebenSat.1 with participation from Scripps Networks Interactive, Sallfort PrivatBank and others. Other Pluto TV investors include USVP, Sky, Luminari Capital, Chicago Ventures, Terry Semel’s Windsor Media and UTA.

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