A round-the-clock AwesomenessTV channel will launch on Pluto TV’s U.K. service as the AVOD ramps up internationally.
Having been bought by Viacom, Pluto TV has been adding content from its parent group to its lineup. It will roll out AwesomenessTV, also acquired by Viacom, on Dec. 6, said Olivier Jollet, the platform’s managing director for Europe. “That’s a big move for us into daily celebrity gossip, teen-driven content, pop stars,” Jollet told Variety. “We’ll bring 24-7 AwesomenessTV to the U.K.”
Jollet said that AwesomenessTV will help take the total number of channels in the U.K. to 70 in coming weeks – and that number will hit 85 by year’s end. The expansion comes a year after Pluto TV launched in Britain. With a range of genre and interest-specific offerings packaged into linear channels, Jollet said Pluto TV is deliberately reaching out to specific groups.
“The model is interesting because there are so many underserved niches, and users who love a specific type of content can find that,” he said. “Take the Westerns channel, which does really well for us. That’s a genre that has almost disappeared from traditional TV. You can’t find Westerns outside of late-night TV, but they have a tremendous fan base.”
On the U.K. iteration of Pluto TV there is already content from My5, the streaming and catchup service of Viacom-owned local broadcaster Channel 5. It has worked the other way around, too, with the likes of Pluto TV Food and Pluto TV Drama rolling onto the My5 platform.
The Viacom deal means a new pipeline of content – one that will only grow as Viacom and CBS become one – but the Pluto TV team will still work with third parties. Last week it announced a deal for a package of Woody Allen movies, and it wants to continue licensing from outside the Viacom stable.
“Obviously, Viacom has amazing content and a strong impact on our program portfolio, but we don’t want to be Viacom Direct,” Jollet said. “All licensors are welcome as we strive to create a new TV landscape.”
That landscape has become more welcoming for ad-supported streamers, defying earlier industry skepticism.
“The market has changed drastically, especially in the last two years,” Jollet said. “We’re seeing from the user point of view that the willingness to pay is not unlimited. People will take two, three or four services…but not 10.” He added: “Pluto TV is very simple. There’s no registration….We want to keep it simple as we extend the service.”
As well as bolstering the existing services, that expansion will see Pluto TV roll into Latin America in 2020. That’s against a backdrop of an increasingly busy AVOD market. Ampere Analysis said that, in the third quarter of this year, 15% of respondents to its consumer survey had watched an AVOD service, excluding YouTube, in the past month. It also noted that the trend in Europe was tracking that in the U.S.
“We want to cover a bigger number of countries and will expand,” Jollet said. “We have now been in the AVOD space for a while. We have an advantage because we have proven we can create and launch channels. More players coming in is a positive – it creates a bigger market.”