Online media streaming is perhaps the biggest boon since the invention of the Internet. But the one thing that we’re sure all cord-cutters miss, is the mindless channel-surfing, eliminating the stress involved in selecting content. Not to mention, the “watch as its being aired” feature that came along with cable TV subscriptions. Few services like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue tried emulating the cable TV viewing experience by bringing Live TV channels straight to our non-television screens.
While they have gained a tremendous amount of recognition from users, they use a one-size-fits-all approach in terms of content offered. Today, entertainment seekers crave for something extra, something unique; enter Pluto TV!
Say Hello to Pluto TV!
Launched as recently as in 2014, Pluto TV is quite an offbeat digital TV service that is owned and operated by Pluto Inc. Similar to other over-the-top Live TV services, Pluto TV also offers Live Channels, but with a difference. These channels are not the major networks that most people know of. Rather, the service scrapes out really awesome web-videos off websites like YouTube and curates them into exclusive channels.
Last year, Pluto TV also made-on-demand content including TV shows, available in order to keep up with consumer demands and competition in the world of streaming. From having about 500,000 active subscribers back in 2015 to over 6 million users monthly at present, Pluto TV’s popularity skyrocketed in no time! Currently, it works on an ad-supported business model since the content on the platform is offered for free.
What’s on Pluto TV?
As of today, Pluto TV boasts of over 75 content partners, offering more than 100 channels. Like we mentioned earlier, the service features unconventional, yet free internet-based channels curated from public domain sites like YouTube and Vimeo. Other sources include networks like Bloomberg Television, Endemol, Cheddar, Mashable, MSNBC, and RT America. Recently, Pluto TV also struck deals with online media companies like Al Jazeera Entertainment, Tastemade, Studio71, and Machinima.
The channels range across niches such as viral news, travel, nature, animals, science, comedy, cartoons, extreme sports, music, and even marijuana! To give you an idea, here are few of the most popular channels on Pluto TV: 4:20, Dance World, Yoga & Meditation, Xtreme Sports Channel, Funny AF, CNBC, Anime All Day, 4K TV, Shout! Factory TV, Classic Toons TV, Science TV, DocuTV, Horror 24/7, Pop20, Reggae King, Electro City, Popsugar, Cats 24/7, Sharks 24/7, GoPro channel, Slow TV, and Nerdist. These channels are as weird as they come. Weird, but distinct nonetheless!
What Else On Pluto TV?
Aside from pulling up content from the aforementioned sources, Pluto TV went ahead and signed a deal with Hulu in 2015. Why you ask? Well, to expand their content library and feature TV shows that are well-received on Hulu’s platform. If you’re wondering why this was necessary, its because some people would appreciate the novelty that Pluto TV brings to the table, but a few may also be slightly disappointed for not being able to watch any “previously known” content. While this worked
While this worked wonderfully for the most part, it did have a couple of drawbacks. Firstly, the Hulu network & channels on Pluto TV are only accessible via PC or web-interface. Secondly, it cannot be viewed as a Live TV channel but instead, as an on-demand video category. This basically defeats the original purpose of the service but nonetheless, the collaboration is still a huge leap towards success.
In 2016, Pluto TV announced further expansion of their content offering to on-demand videos after obtaining distribution rights from colossal studios like Lionsgate, MGM, and Warner Bros. This means that you can now watch movie and TV titles like “Silence of the Lambs”, “The Usual Suspects”, “The Ben Stiller Show”, “Thelma & Louise”, “Mad Max”, and “Fear Factor”.
One thing that we noticed is that Pluto TV lacks in offering proper sports channels which feature major games/events. But that is because it is hard to secure broadcasting rights for such events.
Availability & Device Support
Unfortunately, Pluto TV is currently only available in the United States. But don’t be disheartened. There’s always a way to get around a geo-blocked service. You can subscribe to a paid and reliable VPN service such as Express VPN and then change your location to where the service is officially available; simple as that!
As of now, Pluto TV can be enjoyed on iOS and Android devices, Roku TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, and Google Chromecast. Last year, the company even struck a deal with Sony to make their service available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. Additionally, you could also just use your Macbook, PC/web browser to watch content on Pluto TV.
How Is The Interface & The Streaming Quality?
We tried using Pluto TV across most of the platforms mentioned above. Much to our surprise and contrary to other services, Pluto TV’s web interface is way smoother and more optimized compared to its app counterpart on other devices. We recognized a massive difference in terms of content as well. While using the service through the web browser, iOS, and Android devices, we found that the content was a lot richer than on Roku TV. This may be considered as one of the major pitfalls of the service.
On a positive note, the streaming experience was more or less uniform across platforms. It did not take any time to start loading the content and once it started playing, there was barely any buffering issue. Speaking of streaming, the video quality wasn’t up to the mark in some videos. However, we believe that it’s the host site which should be blamed for posting a low-resolution video rather than Pluto TV itself.
One feature that really stood out for us, is the DVR. You can forward or rewind a particular video/show on a Live Channel. What’s more? You can also record the upcoming shows. Given that Pluto TV is free, this feature came as a total surprise.
Everything’s Okay, but is Pluto TV Legal?
When you come across a service that offers content for free, your brain automatically cautions you because the majority of such services don’t operate legally. But Pluto TV is totally legit! That’s because all the content is licensed straight from the content partners.
So We’re Saying
Pluto TV is by no means a solid cable-TV replacement. The content isn’t as great as on services such as Sling TV or DirecTV Now which are backed by major cable TV networks, featuring popular TV shows and movies. However, if you like to explore new stuff and are open to all things unique, Pluto TV is a great place to begin.
Since you’re only paying in terms of “watching commercials”, there’s really nothing to lose. You’d be surprised by how much content you didn’t know is available, that is totally up your alley.