Facing heightened competition in ad-supported streaming video, ViacomCBS-owned Pluto TV has launched a new branding campaign — its biggest to date — with plans to spend $30 million on the effort in 2020.
Pluto TV, a central plank in ViacomCBS’s overall streaming strategy, last year grew active monthly users 75% to 22.4 million in the U.S. The service provides over 250 live streaming channels, organized into a TV-like channel guide.
Now the media conglomerate wants even more users to flock to Pluto TV via the new multimillion-dollar campaign with the tagline “Drop In. It’s Free.” The marketing message is focused on the streaming service’s ease of use and zero cost to watch. The ads, which begin running March 2 on TV, billboards and digital platforms, highlight “Project Venetia,” an upgrade to Pluto TV’s interface that is currently live on Apple, Vizio and Roku devices with releases set for others including Android and Amazon Fire TV.
Pluto TV’s new campaign and upgraded features come as there’s bean a surge in activity in ad-supported VOD since Viacom (now ViacomCBS) acquired free-streamer Pluto TV for $340 million in cash a little over a year ago.
Other players in the space include Tubi — which Fox Corp. is reportedly circling as an acquisition target — the Roku Channel, Amazon’s IMDb TV, and Walmart’s Vudu, which NBCUniversal is kicking the tires on. Comcast last week bought free streaming platform Xumo for a reported $100 million-plus, and this summer Comcast and NBCU are planning to launch a free, ad-supported version of the Peacock streaming service nationwide.
Pluto TV’s new ad campaign features a 30-second spot that will air in late-night programming, along with an out-of-home campaign in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Minneapolis and Houston. The “Drop In. It’s Free” ads also will run as takeovers on connected TV and streaming-audio platforms, along with digital and social activations and in-theater advertising.
“Project Venetia makes it even easier for viewers to find and enjoy their favorite streaming TV programming,” said Tom Ryan, CEO and co-founder of Pluto TV, in a statement. “As our new tagline promises, you can drop in anytime and start watching hundreds of channels on any device, all for free.”
Features of Pluto TV’s Project Venetia include:
- A new linear interface that lets viewers skip directly to channels in their preferred category (e.g., movies, news, entertainment, sports);
- A favorite-channels list that keeps users’ favorites at the top of the channel guide;
- An enhanced VOD interface letting users go to favorite categories (like “binge-watch” and rom coms) and providing a new preview mode to display movie information and trailers;
- A watch list to let viewers save their top picks with one click; and
- A “Watch Now” button that pops up in live feeds if a title is available on-demand.
Pluto TV’s ad campaign was developed with L.A.-based advertising agency 72andSunny; media planning and buying is being handled by Mediahub Global. The new brand identity was created with DixonBaxi, a U.K. brand and design consultancy.
In addition to its U.S. footprint of over 22 million monthly active users, Pluto TV has launched versions of the service in Europe, and plans to debut in Latin America later in March.
Watch a 15-second version of the “Drop In. It’s Free” spot: