In a significant move that could change some of the UK’s streaming landscape, Paramount Global has announced plans to merge Channel 5’s video-on-demand platform, My5, with the free ad-supported streaming service, Pluto TV.
Slated for launch in the second half of 2024, this unified platform aims to offer a comprehensive range of content, including popular local shows from Channel 5, an extensive on-demand library, and curated Free Ad-Supported TV (FAST) channels from Pluto TV – all as part of the same app.
The move comes as both services have seen substantial growth in recent years, and it represents a strategic effort to consolidate their offerings into a single, more user-friendly platform.
What Is Pluto TV?
Pluto TV was launched in the UK in late 2018 and offers over 100 curated channels covering a wide range of interests.
Pluto TV’s UK offering includes more than 20,000 hours of free content and over 150 channels programmed with content from Paramount and other partners.
The standalone Pluto TV app (which will presumably continue to be available in the UK even after the merge), is available on most of the streaming devices sold in the UK, as well as on some of the pay-TV platforms (it was recently added to Virgin Media TV, for example).
My5 is Channel 5’s free (with adverts) streaming TV platform, which includes content from Channel 5, 5STAR, 5USA, 5SELECT and 5Action.
Once you register and sign in, you can watch catch-up episodes of programmes that have aired on Channel 5’s family of channels, as well as a changing selection of full box sets.
My5 And Pluto TV Coming Together
Channel 5 and Pluto TV are both owned by Paramount Global (an American company that also owns the Paramount+ streaming service) – therefore, the merging of My5 and Pluto TV into a single app is not very surprising.
The new combined service will be advertising-supported (just like My5 and Pluto TV currently are), providing free access to a wide array of content.
For Channel 5 enthusiasts, this means not only the continuation of popular shows like Dalgleish, All Creatures Great And Small, and The Yorkshire Vet, but also a more extensive archive of past episodes.
Pluto TV’s contribution will be equally robust, adding its curated FAST channels to the mix. These channels cover a broad spectrum of genres, from drama and comedy to sports and children’s programming.
The technology behind Pluto TV, which has seen rapid growth and now boasts annual revenue in excess of $1 billion, will power the new platform.
One of the intriguing aspects of this merger is the promise of a new user experience that combines Broadcast Video-On-Demand (BVOD), FAST, and Live TV.
In simple terms, this means viewers will have the flexibility to watch live TV via streaming, browse on-demand content, or do both – without having to switch between multiple apps.
It will be interesting if the new platform ever decides to add a “Premium” tier that removes the adverts (such as the ones available on on ITVX and Channel 4) – although that’s unlikely at this point, with Pluto TV being built around ad-supported content.
When Is The New App Coming?
This merger is not just about offering more content – it’s a strategic move for both Channel 5 and Pluto TV.
Channel 5 has been growing its share of the UK television audience for four consecutive years, and its streaming service, My5, has also seen consistent growth.
Pluto TV, on the other hand, has been a pioneer in the FAST industry, with more than 2,000 channels globally and a presence in over 35 markets.
By combining forces, the two platforms aim to extend their reach and offer an even more compelling service to viewers and advertisers alike.
Work on the new product is already underway, with a launch planned for the latter half of 2024.
Further details on the brand and product will be announced in early 2024.
Maria Kyriacou, President, Broadcast & Studios, Paramount International Markets, said: “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 UK with the global success of our FAST service, Pluto TV.
“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.”