Viacom’s US$340 million Pluto TV deal to include live sports

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Viacom Incorporation has announced a #340 million deal to acquire free video streaming service Pluto TV. The deal carries a broad portfolio of sports programming.

The internet-TV platform distributes studio shows and highlights packages from Fox Sports, in addition to other sports channels. Pluto’s 24/7 Stadium channel also has rights to stream live on-demand college football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and lacrosse, as well as coverage from the PGA Tour, according to sports business news website sportspromedia.

Stadium, which operates under a collective ownership between the Sinclair Broadcast Group, BAMTech, the National Hockey League (NHL), the PGA Tour, and Meredith Corp, was made available on the social streaming platform Twitch for the first time last May.

Viacom Inc. has said it will buy Pluto TV for $340 million in cash to expand its advanced advertising business. The owner of MTV Networks and Nickelodeon sees the purchase of the six-year-old company as another way to build a so-called direct-to-consumer business, Viacom said, while avoiding the capital intensive task of competing directly against subscription video services owned or to be built by Netflix Inc, Walt Disney Co and AT&T Inc’s Warner Media.

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The acquisition will be used to help grow its advanced advertising and marketing business. “Pluto TV’s unique and market-leading product, combined with Viacom’s brands, content, advanced advertising capabilities and global scale, creates a great opportunity for consumers, partners and Viacom,” said Bob Bakish, Viacom president and chief executive.

“As the video marketplace continues to segment, we see an opportunity to support the ecosystem in creating products at a broad range of price points, including free.

“To that end, we see significant white space in the ad-supported streaming market and are excited to work with the talented Pluto TV team, and a broad range of Viacom partners, to accelerate its growth in the U.S. and all over the world.”

In return, Viacom’s portfolio will work to enrich Pluto TV’s product and consumer experience as an independent subsidiary, with Pluto’s co-founder Tom Ryan continuing to serve as chief executive.

“Since our launch less than five years ago, and particularly over the past year, Pluto TV has enjoyed explosive growth and become the category leader in free streaming television,” Ryan said.

“Viacom’s portfolio of global, iconic brands and IP, advanced advertising leadership and international reach will enable Pluto TV to grow even faster and become a major force in streaming TV worldwide. Viacom is the perfect partner to help us accomplish our mission of entertaining the planet.”

Pluto TV claims 12 million monthly active users and licenses programming from 130 film and TV partners, including Viacom.

It is available on devices made by Roku Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Sony Corp and Apple Inc. The app is also available on smart televisions from Samsung and Vizio.

Viacom said it sees Pluto TV as an important outlet for it to sell advanced advertising that has the ability to target viewers based on their habits.

While Viacom has no plans to make current shows on pay TV services available for free on the service, it sees Pluto TV as a way to make money off its archives.

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