Viacom is to roll out its ad-supported video streaming service Pluto TV internationally after its $340M acquisition closed earlier this month.
James Currell, President of Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) in the UK, Northern and Eastern Europe, said that it will largely focus on advertising-backed services rather than subscription platforms.
Speaking at the Oxford Media Convention, he said, “Viacom believes the global SVOD sector is becoming too crowded and capital intensive. So, instead, we’re focused on building scale in ad-supported streaming. We’ve acquired Pluto TV and we plan to use our deep content libraries to accelerate its international roll-out, starting in Latin America.”
Pluto TV, which is led by President and CEO Tom Ryan was founded in 2013 and streams more than 100 channels in a range of genres, claiming more than 12 million monthly active users across devices.
Currell pointed to SVOD plans by the likes of Disney, Comcast, Time Warner, Apple and Google, but added that it was notable that Amazon had launched Freedive, an ad-supported movie service and added that there was speculation that Netflix may introduce an ad-supported offering or tier.
However, he said that Viacom’s flagship brands, which include MTV, Nickelodeon and VH1, have “significant potential to pivot further towards premium… if or when that proves expedient”.
Content from Viacom’s Channel 5 is also expected to join BritBox in the UK, the SVOD service being established by the BBC and ITV. “Viacom stands ready to partner to enhance the local content eco-system,” he said, echoing comments from C4 CEO Alex Mahon last week at Israeli TV conference INTV.
Currell used his keynote speech to highlight the performance and growth of C5 since it acquired it in 2014. He pointed to the fact that it is moving back into scripted drama for the first time in many years and the fact that it is “making a name for itself” with documentaries such as Michael Palin in North Korea and Raped: My Story. He said that C5 has brought it greater scale and a range of associated synergies across ad sales, content, marketing and commercial deal and helped to diversify its UK revenues as well as giving it access to a much wider pipeline of quality local content.
“I think it’s indisputable that under American ownership Channel 5 today is making a more valuable contribution to the broader British broadcasting ecology than it has ever done,” he said. “As a result of the benefits that Viacom has brought to Channel 5 and which Channel 5 has brought to Viacom, I look forward to us making an even more significant contribution to the UK’s commercial broadcasting ecology in the future.”