In this age of streaming video, we are seeing two big divisions if you want to watch a movie or TV show on your phone, PC, or smart TV. One is spending some cash for a subscription to Netflix, HBO Max, Disney Plus, or others. The other choice is accessing a free streaming service that’s supported by ads. One of the best, if not the best, in this latter category is Pluto TV.
Read more: Best streaming services
But just what is Pluto TV? We will tell you everything you need to know about the service, and why it’s a must for any streaming video fan. You can check out Pluto TV right now at the link below.
What is Pluto TV?
Launched in a beta version in 2014, Pluto TV is a bit different than other streaming services. Besides being free to access, it offers over 250 “channels” of content that run “live” 24/7. Basically, it’s like a virtual version of old-fashioned cable TV. You can surf through channels of all types, in many different categories.
More recently, the service started offering on-demand free streaming of movies and TV shows. However, much of its content is still exclusive to its “channels” lineup.
Pluto TV was purchased by Viacom (now known as ViacomCBS) for $340 million in 2019. The company says that the service currently has over 28 million active monthly viewers in the US. Worldwide, Pluto TV has over 43 million active users.
Is Pluto TV worth it?
In a word, yes. Since it’s free, you should have no qualms about trying this service out. Also, unlike many other free streaming services, the content that you can watch is also of a high quality. While there are still some B-movies and C-level TV shows on the service, Pluto TV also has some great recent and classic films and shows to watch, on-demand and also streaming live.
Are there commercials on this free service?
As you might expect from a free streaming service, you will have to watch commercials occasionally while watching Pluto TV’s channels and on-demand movies and TV series. However, the interruptions are still less than what you would watch on normal broadcast TV or basic cable.
Where can I watch Pluto TV?
At the moment, the service is available in the US (including Puerto Rico), the UK, Germany, and Austria. It is scheduled to expand to Spain, Italy, and France some time in 2021.
What platforms support the service?
Pluto TV is available on the following platforms and devices:
- Android smart TVs, sticks and set-top boxes
- LG Smart TVs
- Roku smart TVs, sticks, and set-top boxes
- Samsung Smart TVs
- Fire smart TVs, sticks and set-top boxes
- Vizio TVs
- Hisense Smart TVs
- Apple TV set-top box
- TiVo sticks and set-top boxes
- Verizon Fios TV and Stream TV Box
- Sony Playstation 4
- Microsoft Xbox One
- Oculus Go and Quest VR headsets
- iOS mobile devices
- Android mobile devices
- PC web browsers (Safari, Chrome and Firefox)
- Verizon Android smartphones (except Pixel); pre-installed.
Pluto TV interface and features
As we mentioned before, the service acts as a virtual cable TV lineup, with over 250 channels to surf. Channels are broken up into different categories, and you can switch between them as well. Some channels are only available for a limited amount of time and are considered “Popup” channels. You can also switch from Live TV to the On Demand section, which lets you just pick which movie or TV show you want to stream immediately.
Does the service support 4K resolution?
Some of the channels on Pluto TV support streaming in 4K resolution including the 4K TV channel and the Slow 4K channel. It’s likely that more of the service’s content will add 4K streaming in the future.
Additional features with free sign up
While you can watch Pluto TV without signing up for an account, you miss out on a few extra features that you get when you create a free account and log in. One of them allows you to label any of the channels as “favorites.” This allows you to just watch the channels you want to watch as they will be grouped into their own section of the interface.
The other major additional feature for account users is the availability to watch an on-demand movie or TV show, pause it, and then watch it again on another device at the same place you stopped.
What are the Pluto TV channel categories?
At the moment, here are the channel categories on the service. Each category has at least several different individual channels, if not more, to watch.
- Featured – A curated look at several channels that Pluto TV wants to give some special attention to today.
- Movies – A ton of channels showing nothing but movies, with classic and recent films, along with different genre channels.
- Entertainment – A variety of TV shows, movies, and more showcasing entertainment from channels like MTV, CMT, BET, and more. There are also channels dedicated to individual shows like Baywatch, Star Trek, and more.
- News – Both live and recorded daily news programs from outlets like NBC, CBS, CNN, and more.
- Reality – Channels that run classic and more recent reality TV shows, including channels dedicated to Fear Factor, Love and Hip Hop, and more.
- Crime – This category has fictional crime shows like CSI and Midsomer Murders mixed with true crime shows like Cops, Forensic Files, and more.
- Comedy – TV shows, movies, and specials from outlets like Comedy Central and shows like MST3K, Tosh.O, and more.
- Classic TV – Watch your old favorites like classic Doctor Who, Three’s Company, The Rifleman, and more.
- Home + DIY – Check out channels dedicated to making your home better, along with food, pets, and faith channels.
- Explore – A variety of unscripted channels, with some dedicated to cars, history, science, nature, and more.
- Sports – Several channels dedicated to sports programming, from outlets like the NFL Network, Fox Sports, and more.
- Gaming + Anime – A mix of animation and gaming-themed channels, including ones dedicated to Minecraft, Naruto, and more.
- Music – A number of music video channels for pop, classic, and faith music.
- Latino – A number of channels with Latino language movies and TV programming.
- Kids – Children’s programming is the theme of this category, including several Nickelodeon-based channels.
There are way too many Pluto TV channels to list here, and again some of them disappear. That’s why we are putting our favorite channels in a separate article, which you can check out below.
Read more: Our favorite Pluto TV channels
We do want to point out two channels that might be of interest. Since Pluto TV is owned by ViacomCBS, it also offers programming from its paid streaming services like Paramount Plus and Showtime on their own Pluto TV channels. That allows users to check out select programming from both services without having to pay.
Read more: Best Showtime series
On demand movies and TV shows
As we mentioned, the service also allows users to simply watch thousands of movies and shows on demand. As with other free streaming services, the selection of movies tends to vary wildly from month to month. If you see a movie you want to watch, you might want to check it out before it leaves the service.
Pluto TV is certainly not alone when it comes to free streaming services. Here’s a look at just a few of its rivals.
One of the oldest of the free streaming services, Crackle not only has a solid amount of movies and TV shows to watch for free, it also has a number of exclusive original films and series to stream as well. It also offers some extra features if you sign up for a free account, including parental controls.
Like Pluto TV, Tubi TV offers a lot of new and classic shows and movies to stream on-demand. The service is slowly ramping up its original content, as well. Tubi TV also offers live local news from over 200 Fox TV affiliates across the United States.
Amazon’s free content streaming service has been gaining traction over the past year. You can watch great recent films on the service, along with terrific television shows like Lost or Mad Men for free. It’s also adding more original content, starting with the UK spy drama Alex Rider. We expect more original shows to be made available over the next year. It’s definitely one to watch.
NBCUniversal’s recently launched Peacock streaming service lets you watch thousands of movies and television shows for free. It also has channels like Pluto TV that stream content including live news and more. For $4.99 a month, you can access even more movies and shows. You can also pay $9.99 a month to enjoy the service ad-free.
Q: How many people can stream on Pluto TV at one time?
A: Since the service is free, you can stream on as many devices you want, all at once.
Q: Is Pluto TV available in 4K?
A: Some of its streams and channels do support 4K resolution. However, you still need a compatible smart TV, streaming stick or set-top box to watch its content in 4K.
Q: Can you share a Pluto TV account with friends and family?
A: Yes, you can share your Pluto TV account with others. You can also set up a PIN so that your kids can’t access it without your permission.
Q: Does Pluto TV work offline?
A: Unfortunately, the service’s mobile apps do not currently support downloads of its shows. However, that feature could be added at a later date.
Q: Does Pluto TV have parental controls?
A: Unfortunately, the service lacks parental controls at the moment. Hopefully, they will be added at a future date. In the meantime, parents should monitor their kids and their use of Pluto TV, as it does contain mature content on some of its channels, and also on demand.