It’s the first big content deal Pluto TV has announced since Viacom acquired the free, ad-supported streaming startup for $340 million in cash earlier this year.
Pluto TV now has more than 15 million unique monthly active users, up from 12 million in January when Viacom announced the acquisition, according to CEO and co-founder Tom Ryan. He announced the milestone in an on-stage interview with Variety co-editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein Monday at the NAB Show in Las Vegas.
All told, the Pluto TV deal with BBC Studios covers nearly 1,000 episodes, totaling more than 700 hours of content, from shows including the original “Doctor Who,” “Antiques Roadshow,” “Being Erica,” “Bedlam,” “Primeval” and “Robin Hood.” Under the nonexclusive agreement, BBC Studios content is slated to launch on Pluto TV in May 2019, available only to users in the U.S.
As part of the BBC pact, Pluto TV plans to launch dedicated channels for the classic “Doctor Who” episodes and “Antiques Roadshow,” the latter of which will feature more than 300 episodes of the trash-into-treasure fan favorite with new content launching quarterly.
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Pluto TV is getting rights to a selection of classic “Doctor Who” stories starring Tom Baker (including “The Deadly Assassin,” “The Ark in Space,” and “The Robots of Death”), Peter Davison (“EarthShock,” “The Caves of Androzani”), Jon Pertwee (“Planet of the Spiders,” “Terror of the Autons”), and the very first Doctor, William Hartnell (“The Dalek Invasion Of Earth”).
“This new Pluto TV enterprise is appealing for us as we continue to attract new audiences through the creation of branded pop-up channels like classic ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Antiques Roadshow’ and expand on opportunities for existing fans to find their favorite shows to stream, in a unique way,” said Beth Clearfield, BBC Studios senior VP of digital strategy and franchise business management for the Americas.
Pluto TV provides more than 100 curated channels, presented in a linear-style TV grid, plus thousand of movies on demand. The company has nearly 150 content-licensing partners, including major studios, TV networks, and publishers; those include Warner Bros., Lionsgate, MGM, CBS, Discovery, Gravitas Ventures, Conde Nast, and Warner Music Group.
“Pluto TV is elated to be able to expand our range of programming by adding such an esteemed and regarded brand as the BBC,” Amy Kuessner, Pluto TV’s SVP of content partnerships, said in a statement.
In the Americas, BBC Studios manages joint venture relationships with AMC Networks for U.S. cable channel BBC America — home of original series including “Killing Eve,” the modern “Doctor Who” and “Top Gear” — and with ITV for subscription VOD service BritBox in the U.S. and Canada.
Pictured above: Tom Baker, who played the Fourth Doctor in BBC’s “Doctor Who”