Channeling MTV, Vevo Launches Linear Programming on Pluto

Music television is back: Major label-owned music video platform Vevo is launching a series of linear channels for leanback viewing on Pluto TV, the ad-supported video service that got acquired by Viacom earlier this year.

A first channel, dubbed Vevo Pop, will launch on November 12; additional channels, including a holiday-themed station, are expected to go live in the coming weeks. Vevo plans to launch 10 free, ad-supported channels on Pluto altogether.

“Pluto TV is an exciting partner for Vevo, enabling us to offer a linear-programmed lean-back music video experience to our audiences,” Vevo president of sales and distribution Kevin McGurn told Variety. “Bringing music videos into the home alongside other linear and on-demand programming ensures that music videos are available to audiences on devices and platforms that are already integrated with their day-to-day lives. “

“Vevo is a world-class brand with a global audience that is a natural fit for Pluto TV,” added Pluto’s chief business officer Jeff Shultz. “We are excited to add these new Vevo channels and genres to our music video category bringing exciting, premium music video content from the world’s greatest artists to further the revival of music videos on streaming television.”

For Vevo, the launch of these linear channels is a bit of a throwback, and not only to the good old days of MTV: The online video service launched a similar offering under the Vevo TV moniker back in 2013, and also briefly experimented with on-air VJs. At the time, Vevo even played with the idea to license Vevo TV to cable operators and compete head-to-head with MTV. However, Vevo discontinued Vevo TV in 2016 as it was looking to launch more personalized online services.

Fast forward to 2019, and Vevo has become a very different company. While the original Vevo was looking to spin up a series of owned-and-operated businesses, it is now much more focused on maximizing licensing revenue from third-party platforms. Most of that licensing revenue still comes from YouTube, but Vevo has also struck distribution deals with Amazon for its Fire TV devices, Roku, Apple and others.

“With over 30m monthly views on TV in the US we are hyper focused on our OTT packaging and distribution strategy,” said McGurn.

Adding Pluto to its list of TV-centric distribution partners is one way for Vevo to grow its licensing revenue, but it’s also an indicator for the changing nature of the television business itself: As consumers switch from traditional cable bundles to paid subscription services like Netflix, Disney Plus and HBO Max, other parts of the traditional cable bundle will increasingly get replicated on ad-supported streaming platforms.

The side effect of this may just be a revival for long-lost formats like traditional music television on services like Pluto.

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