Under the arrangement, 2020 models of LG smart TVs in the U.S. will carry Pluto, an ad-supported, linear bundle of streaming channels. Models made between 2016-2019 will be phased in this fall, and expansion to other global territories will follow.
Pluto, founded in 2013, currently operates in 22 countries. As of May, it had 24 million monthly active users, double its level when it was acquired by Viacom in early 2019. On Thursday, ViacomCBS will report updated Pluto numbers along with its quarterly financial results.
The LG relationship complements existing ones between Pluto and major smart TV makers Samsung and Vizio. Under the deal, Pluto programming will be accessible through the manufacturer’s “LG Channels” offering. Upon full integration later this year, it will offer about 100 of Pluto’s 200-plus channels.
Free, ad-supported video on demand has become an area of increasing focus for the TV business as ratings continue to erode and more pay-TV subscribers cut the traditional cord. After the Pluto acquisition, Comcast bought Xumo, Fox Corp bought Tubi and Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment swung a deal with Sony for control of Crackle. Distribution with connected-device makers is a key part of the strategy for many AVOD players, as customers unboxing new gear will tend to more readily adopt free services rather than those requiring subscription fees.
“We’re thrilled to be able to bring Pluto TV and our leadership in free, ad-supported streaming television to LG’s lineup of critically-acclaimed smart TVs,” Pluto distribution VP Brendon Thomas said in a press release. “Through this partnership, we are excited to have another opportunity to accelerate our mission to entertain the planet by bringing an unparalleled lineup of programming, with instant discoverability through the LG Channels experience, to millions of LG users, for free.”
Matt Durgin, Director, North America Partnerships at LG Electronics, said the partnership was especially propitious during 2020. “In the highly unusual times we are living in, people are turning to home entertainment in even larger numbers than ever before,” he said. “With the debut of Pluto TV on LG smart TVs, our customers now have access to an even more expansive and diverse roster of free streaming content that will keep everyone entertained and engaged at home.”