The first seven Time Lords from the BBC’s “Doctor Who” have landed on free streaming service Pluto TV — on a pop-up channel stocked with about 200 episodes of the cult-favorite sci-fi series.
Viacom-owned Pluto TV also launched a dedicated pop-up channel for the U.K. version of “Antiques Roadshow,” with more than 300 episodes of the appraisal show rotating quarterly, under a content-licensing pact with BBC Studios.
On Pluto, the “Doctor Who” Classic and other BBC Studios programming is available only in the U.S. on the free, ad-supported VOD service. In the U.S., over 600 “Doctor Who” Classic episodes — spanning 1963-1989 — are available on BritBox, the subscription VOD service that’s a joint venture of BBC and ITV.
Pluto TV’s “Doctor Who” Classic channel (at this link) will include a selection of stories. That includes “The Dalek Invasion of Earth,” starring the very first Doctor, William Hartnell, as well as episodes with Tom Baker (including “The Deadly Assassin,” “The Ark in Space,” and “The Robots of Death”), Peter Davison (“EarthShock,” “The Caves of Androzani”), and Jon Pertwee (“Planet of the Spiders,” “Terror of the Autons”).
Pluto TV originally said content under the nonexclusive BBC Studios licensing pact would begin launching in May, but the free window for “Doctor Who” Classic and “Antiques Roadshow” opened in June. All told, the Pluto TV deal with BBC Studios covers nearly 1,000 episodes, totaling more than 700 hours of content. Other BBC shows on Pluto TV include “Being Erica,” “Bedlam,” “Primeval” and “Robin Hood.”
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Pluto’s service provides 100-plus linear channels, which are programmed in a TV-like grid. The content in the channels is scheduled — you can’t launch individual titles on-demand — although Pluto includes a separate VOD section with several thousand free movies.
Viacom snapped up Pluto TV for $340 million in cash earlier this year, aiming to further diversify its digital revenue base. As of early April, Pluto TV said it had more than 15 million unique monthly active users (up from 12 million three months earlier).
Last month, Pluto TV launched 14 free channels with Viacom library content, including those for BET, Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon and a dedicated pop-up channel for MTV’s “The Hills.”
Overall, Pluto TV has some 150 content-licensing partners, including major studios, TV networks, and publishers, including CNN, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, MGM, CBS, Discovery, Meredith, Conde Nast, and Warner Music Group.