The entertainment conglomerate said on Wednesday that the move will bring together broadcast video-on-demand (BVOD) service My5 “with its leading FAST service Pluto TV to bring audiences in the U.K. a supersized, free streaming service in 2024.” It called the U.K. a “critical market.”
The launch is planned for the second half of next year. “Further details on the brand and product will be announced in early 2024,” Paramount said on Wednesday.
However, it promised “an extensive range of new, exclusive and archived content from Channel 5, as well as an extensive on-demand section and an outstanding collection of curated FAST channels from Pluto TV.” And it highlighted: “The product, which will leverage Pluto TV’s best-in-class technology platform, will combine BVOD, FAST, AVOD and live TV all at once, allowing audiences to lean back, lean forward, catch up and watch their favorite shows live.”
Pluto TV’s U.K. service offers more than 20,000 hours of free content and more than 150 channels programmed with content from Paramount and other content partners, “including iconic characters Judge Judy Sheindlin and Dog The Bounty Hunter, the three classic series in the CSI Universe, MTV hits like Catfish and Teen Mum, 10 curated movie channels, as well as numerous factual hits like Channel 5’s Police Interceptors, Come Dine With Me, true crime classic Homicide Hunter and fan favorite Most Haunted.”
Paramount emphasized that the broadened combined streamer will be created after Channel 5 managed to grow its share of the U.K. TV audience over the last four years and My5 has grown its viewing over the last three years. Among the drivers mentioned by the company have been such hit shows as crime drama Dalgleish, drama All Creatures Great and Small, as well as doc series The Yorkshire Vet and Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly.
“As we look ahead to an IP-delivered future, this is the right time for us to fully leverage the Paramount ecosystem and combine the reach and scale of our free-to-air network in the U.K. with the global success of our FAST service, Pluto TV,” said Maria Kyriacou, president, broadcast & studios, Paramount International Markets. “We’re well underway with work on this product, and I’m incredibly excited about the content and user experience we’ll be able to offer our audiences and our advertising partners when we launch next year.”
Added Olivier Jollet, executive vp and general manager of Pluto TV, Paramount International Markets: “As an early pioneer of FAST globally, we’ve seen incredible growth and excitement for Pluto TV in markets around the world. By joining forces with our leading BVOD platform in the U.K., we are offering audiences, partners and clients a supersized free streaming destination that we know they’ll love.” He concluded: “This is a significant evolution for our free streaming business in this important market and a testament to how we strategically approach our platforms and the future of streaming.”
Jollet also told THR that the U.K. market “is becoming more and more competitive.” And he detailed how the planned combined streamer in the U.K. fits into the conglomerate’s broader streaming strategy. “We are leveraging the global investment that Paramount has been making in building Pluto TV into a global product with constant innovation,” he explained. “Offering a one-stop destination is key, especially when the U.K. audience is shifting to more IP-delivered channels.”
Overall, Paramount approaches streaming as “building an ecosystem,” Jollet said. “We have Paramount+, our premium paid streaming service, and we are carefully working on a windowing strategy targeted market by market. For instance, we have already premiered some new Paramount+ originals on Pluto TV across the world. We also launched some Pluto TV channels on 10Play, our BVOD service in Australia, so there are already a lot of things that we’ve been doing in this space. Our goal is to leverage this ecosystem even more in the future.”