The Pluto TV debut is in partnership with Canada’s Corus Entertainment, which oversees national advertising for the new platform. At launch there are more than 30 dedicated Canadian channels, many of which feature Corus programming. There are several local Global News channels and a variety of lifestyle content starring notable Canadian talent like the Property Brothers, Bryan and Sarah Baeumler, and Anna Olson (pictured above). Some of that talent appeared at the launch event at Toronto’s Design Exchange this week to promote the content.
Overall there are more than 110 FAST channels and various on demand offerings, with more than 20,000 hours of free programming that also spans Paramount titles and content from other global media partners. It is the service’s largest launch to-date across more than 35 countries and territories.
“It is the strongest launch we’ve had in any country,” president/CEO of streaming at Paramount and the co-founder/CEO of Pluto TV, Tom Ryan, tells Variety. “We always started smaller and built up. Part of the benefit of coming to Canada later is that Pluto TV has become such a robust business. Now in partnership with Corus, we come to market with a really, really strong offering.”
Pluto TV becomes the largest player in the newly emerging FAST channels space in Canada. The service is an antithesis to highly serialized shows and the current world of streaming, where viewers often scroll mindlessly to find something to watch. When viewers log onto the service, either online or via one of the supported devices, content immediately begins playing, no registration required.
That’s part of the service’s “lean back” approach, which is designed to allow viewers to immediately jump into thematic content that suits their interests, marrying traditional TV with the internet.
“TV has done so many things right over the years, but it’s not been modernized for the streaming era to give you a place to jump into a well-curated, genre-based channel,” Ryan says. “If you know that you’re into home improvement programming or crime dramas or comedies, you can just pop into that channel, lean back, and be entertained.”
In order to provide that service, the company has a specific program mandate that relies on big franchises, numerous episodes, and self-contained or procedural content. Viewers need to be able to come into content at any point, whether that’s an episode of “CSI,” “Top Chef Canada” or a classic sitcom like “Three’s Company.”
The free service is also a funnel of sorts into Paramount Plus, which is now available in Canada. Ryan explains Pluto constantly promotes Paramount Plus content with interstitial advertisements, but there are also channels that stream some of Paramount Plus’ original content to tease and entice audiences to continue watching over at the paid service.
“It’s an important way for us to make our overall streaming ecosystem bigger and better,” he says. “Both are very different streaming services that stand on their own, but we’re looking to cross-promote from one to the other so that we can take advantage and grow [and keep] viewers in our overall streaming ecosystem.”
Pluto TV Canada also includes a small offering of French-language channels and is open to and “actively exploring” expanding that content through partnerships with local French and international partners. At launch the service also includes kids content, sports and gaming, and a robust lineup of movies, including various holiday movies available live and on demand.
Ryan didn’t share specific Canadian streaming goals or targets, but notes the service currently has 72 million active monthly users and counts close to five billion hours consumed last year. While registration isn’t required it is encouraged, and the company also tracks third-party datasets to provide advertisers with “demographic and psychographic content affinity-based data.”
Ryan adds Canada is “a critical market” and he is “bullish” on the market opportunity where he currently sees no real competition. “Pluto is going to be the leader in this FAST category, no doubt in my mind,” he says. “When advertisers are looking to deploy dollars into this rapidly growing category, Pluto TV is a very attractive place for them to do that.”