Pluto.TV Aims High, Launches as a Virtual MSO for Digital Video Providers

/ Mar 31, 2014


There are many companies trying to offer online video content in a fashion that’s similar to how you watch television. Here’s one that’s taking a literal approach to it: Pluto.TV, a new platform that aggregates online video content into a series of 24-hour, linear-like channels.

Click on Pluto.TV and you will see several things: A continuous stream of content; access to nearly 100 channels based on various genres and interests; and a content guide that’s almost exactly like the old-school video listings you see on TV.

The idea is that by packaging similarly-themed content into TV-sized “shows,” and presenting them in a linear stream, people will start watching stuff they have an interest in, and in doing so, might find other stuff they’re bound to like.

What makes Pluto.TV different, though, is that its user experience is indeed linear. You can’t search for individual clips and watch them whenever you desire. The shows that the platform programs are available at set times on set channels — again, just like TV. That said, users do have the option to “favorite” which channels and shows they like for quicker, easier access.

The channels on Pluto.TV pull in content from the major online video platforms (YouTube, Vimeo, and Dailymotion), across categories like hip-hop, snow, surf, food, fashion, health and fitness, travel, and sketch comedy, among many others. The company has also secured deals with premium content partners like Funny or Die, QVC, Refinery29, Maker Studios, Freddie Wong and Brandon Laatsch’s RocketJump, The Young Turks, and IconicTV (formerly known as Jay Z’s Life + Times).

On the monetization front, Pluto.TV is ad-supported, both by the mid-roll ads the company sells, as well as the pre-roll and post-roll ads that originally ran on the content it pulls in.

The platform is also available across multiple screens, including smartphones and tablets operated by iOS and Android.

Regardless of its linear approach, Pluto.TV is still joining a crowded list of platforms that want to be your source for discovering and watching web content.

So why give it the attention? Well, just look at who’s backing the company. The laundry list of Pluto.TV investors include UTA (which owns a stake in the company) as well as UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer, ICM partner and president Chris Silbermann, Intel Capital founder Avram Miller, former Yahoo CEO Terry Semel’s Windsor Media, former Microsoft CMO Mich Mathews, rapper Nas’ Queensbridge Venture Partners, Omnicom Digital CEO Jonathan Nelson, Interscope Records co-founder Tom Whalley, UTA head of digital media Brent Weinstein, and Maker Studios’ SVP of marketing Jeremy Welt. So there are a lot of people banking on the fact that Pluto.TV might work.

Pluto.TV was co-founded by Nick Grouf, Ilya Pozin, and Tom Ryan in 2013.

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