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Monday, May 29, 2023

Viacom Buys Pluto TV, Entering Streaming Derby

Viacom Inc. threw its hat into the streaming ring Jan. 22, announcing that it had bought Los Angeles’s Pluto Inc. for $345 million.

Unlike Netflix Inc. and other popular streaming services, Carthay-headquartered Pluto TV is a free service that makes its money from advertising as opposed to subscriptions.

The company was founded in 2013, and, according to the announcement, boasts “12 million monthly active users” who stream “more than 100 channels and thousands of hours of on-demand content.”

Pluto TV chief executive and co-founder Tom Ryan will stay on company head.

“Since our launch less than five years ago, and particularly over the past year, Pluto TV has enjoyed explosive growth and become the category leader in free streaming television,” Ryan stated in the press release. “Viacom’s portfolio of global, iconic brands and IP, advanced advertising leadership and international reach will enable Pluto TV to grow even faster and become a major force in streaming TV worldwide.”

New York City-headquartered Viacom’s move comes after announcements in the last year by NBCUniversal, Warner Media, and Walt Disney Co. that they are creating streaming services.

Viacom owns a handful of cable TV channels including Nickelodeon, and there is renewed speculation the conglomerate may reacquire CBS Corp.

Bob Bakish, Viacom president and CEO, termed the Pluto acquisition, “as an important step forward in Viacom’s evolution.”

“As the video marketplace continues to segment, we see an opportunity to support the ecosystem in creating products at a broad range of price points, including free,” Bakish said in a statement.

Media and entertainment reporter Matthew Blake can be reached at (323)556-8332 or mblake@labusinessjournal.com

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