Inventing free TV packages on paper was something I used to do a lot. In the glory days of free-to-air satellite TV, the idea was to put together enough free (or dirt cheap), attractive, useful channels on one transponder to get viewers to buy and install Ku-band equipment, and then the size of the audience would attract other channels and so forth.
I’m reminded of those big ideas when I fire up Pluto TV, an amazing collection of live channels and video on demand. It’s all free, mostly ad-supported, and it makes a wonderful supplement for cord-cutters who rely on over-the-air broadcast TV.
My top two categories of typically neglected genres on OTA TV are news (most of the day) and sports (most of the week). Pluto has news covered, with NBC News, CBS News, The Weather Network, Bloomberg, and much more. And Pluto has a bit of sports, with Stadium, Big Sky Conference schools, and a couple of other Pluto-originated catchalls. There are also several live movie channels and plenty of alternative entertainment channels. The lineup changes now and then, but you can download a list (pdf). And like my imaginary satellite service, it’s asking for more channels to join its lineup.
(Lately my guilty pleasure has been Slow TV, with long, uninterrupted videos of Norwegian train rides. As with NatureVision TV, it’s a soothing background for any other activity. And for the holidays, there’s also a fireplace to “watch”. Such peaceful enjoyment!)
Pluto also offers a lot of free ad-supported on-demand movies and TV shows. Vudu’s Movies On Us is a similar free program, but I wonder whether Pluto’s inventory is larger.
Viewing platforms are not a problem. I can watch Pluto on just about anything: smartphone, tablet, Windows desktop, Roku, AirTV, and more. It’s a big reason why I’m looking forward to seeing Channel Master’s new receiver next month; if it’s based on Android TV, it’ll run the Pluto TV app. If anyone can combine a good OTA DVR (like CM’s DVR+) and Pluto TV in the same box, they’d have a great combo for cord-cutters.