Viacom said its flagship networks BET, Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon will be added to the free, ad-supported streaming service Pluto TV, which it acquired in January.
The company made the announcement and unveiled a slate of digital programming during its second annual NewFronts pitch to media buyers at the PlayStation Theater in New York’s Times Square.
“We’re excited to return to the NewFronts after a year of rapid digital acceleration and momentum across the leading social and online video platforms,” Viacom Digital Studios president Kelly Day said in the official release. “Our remarkable growth continues to be driven by an investment in premium original programming and experiences that engage our young, diverse audiences on the platforms they love most, presenting an unprecedented opportunity for our advertising partners to join the conversation.”
Viacom bought Pluto for $340 million, signaling a strategy similar to NBCUniversal’s, emphasizing advertising and free streaming rather than the subscription blueprints drawn up by Disney and WarnerMedia. This year and next will be milestones in terms oof new streaming launches, with Apple also coming to market with Apple TV+ this fall, and a cluster of traditional media and tech players focused on closing the gap with Netflix.
Pluto TV has more than 15 million monthly active users, Viacom said. The company’s channels will go live on May 1, with content from Viacom’s library appearing on three categories of branded channels. The first is group is Co-Branded Flagship Channels, which are described as “curated” versions of Viacom’s existing networks; Signature Channels, with the most “celebrated and diversified” programming from each brand; and Pop-Up Channels, which deliver series in marathon-style airings. The Pop-Ups will start with MTV’s The Hills, which will re-air ahead of reboot The Hills: New Beginnings, which debuts on June 24.
“We are thrilled to expand the Pluto TV offering with the addition of Viacom’s world-class channel brands and iconic programming. This is a major step forward in our mission of entertaining the planet,” Pluto co-founder and CEO Tom Ryan said.
Programming from Viacom Digital Studios will circulate across Facebook, Snap, Twitter and YouTube for Viacom’s more than 880 million fans, which Viacom calls the largest social footprint among entertainment companies. With the addition of Pluto TV, Viacom predicts its digital video impressions will grow to 5 billion per month by 2020.
VidCon, another recent Viacom acquisition, will mark the 10th anniversary of its flagship conference in Anaheim, CA that is geared to video creators for YouTube and other platforms. About 75,000 attendees are expected at the conference in July, with a new element this year, The Direct Brand Summit.
“We have made incredible strides over the past year due to our acquisitions and expansion to grow our digital reach significantly to the direct benefit of our advertising partners.” Viacom Head of Ad Solutions Sean Moran said. “With more touch points than ever before, we look forward to leveraging the full scale and power of Viacom to help our clients create real, authentic connections with our highly coveted and hard-to-reach young audiences wherever they are.”