Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Viacom Will Debut 15 Channels Based on Flagship Brands on Pluto TV to Bolster its Upfront Pitch

Viacom has revealed plans to distribute some of its TV programming on its newly acquired streaming video service Pluto TV, as part of an effort to address ad buyers’ concerns about reaching fewer people through its TV networks, thanks to declining TV viewership, Digiday has learnt.

Viacom will debut up to 15 channels on Pluto TV that will be tied to its linear TV networks later this spring, such as one that will air old episodes of MTV’s The Hills and channels from other Viacom-owned networks such as Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and BET, that will similarly feature full episodes from Viacom’s library of past shows. The move is meant to highlight Pluto TV — which Viacom announced in January that it had acquired for $340 million — as the digital centerpiece of the TV conglomerate’s upfront pitch to advertisers this year.

In the fourth quarter of 2018, viewership across Viacom’s cable TV networks dropped by 13 percent year over year when using Nielsen’s C3 rating that counts live and on-demand viewership for the first three days after a show airs, according to Ad Age.

A streaming video service that features channels consisting of online videos stitched together into 24/7 feeds as well as a library of on-demand programming, Pluto TV attracts 15 million unique viewers per month — up from roughly 12 million monthly viewers at the time of the acquisition’s announcement — and half of those viewers are between the ages of 18 and 34 years old, according to John Halley, Executive Vice President (EVP) and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Viacom Ad Solutions. “Half [of that audience] don’t watch pay TV, so it’s incremental audience,” he said.

Advertisers’ interest in TV-like digital video streamed on TV screens continues to grow as a way to offset traditional TV’s diminished reach and rising ad prices. “Viacom has obviously been struggling with linear ratings for the past few years. They’re very smart to look at their portfolio and see what they can do to offset some of this,” said an agency executive.

Viacom will include Pluto TV within broader ad packages that include linear TV and digital.

The company will also offer Pluto TV for digital-only buys, which can require less of a financial commitment from advertisers and appeal to digital advertisers that may not yet be a part of the TV company’s client base. “Digital doesn’t require a half-million dollar budget to play in these pools,” said Halley.

Viacom is emphasizing that it is the only company able to sell ads across Pluto TV’s platform. While other media companies like NBC and CBS are sometimes able to sell ads against their own content that they distribute on Pluto TV, they are limited to that inventory and, as a result, typically use it as supplementary digital inventory.

Viacom will allow advertisers to target their ads on Pluto TV using the traditional age-and-gender categories deployed for traditional TV buyers. It will also enable advertisers to target their ads to more specific audience segments using advertisers’ own data as well as third-party data to identify those audiences. Advertisers will be able to measure their Pluto TV ads’ performance using Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings system, Halley said.

Halley said the average Pluto TV viewer spends two to three hours at a time watching videos on the service, according to Halley, mimicking behavior similar to linear TV.

Being able to offer up that TV-like audience for advertisers to reach through a digital platform that resembles traditional TV is compelling to ad buyers. “Pluto is interesting because it’s OTT but you’ve got that [programming] guide that looks really similar to live linear TV. It’s different than what we have been thinking about as OTT for the past few years,” said the agency exec.

As much Viacom is positioning Pluto TV to appeal to digitally curious TV advertisers, the company is also taking aim at digitally native advertisers that may concentrate their ad spending on Google and Facebook. The addition of Pluto TV’s TV-like inventory to Viacom’s digital packages could help the company to attract more digital advertisers, like direct-to-consumer marketers that are looking to spend more money on TV-like programming but may struggle to meet traditional TV’s higher budgetary requirements.

The courtship of these mid- to long-tail advertisers could help to reinforce the TV network’s business by bringing in new competition to push up its digital ad prices and counter any reduced spending from traditional TV advertisers that may reallocate their ad dollars across a broader set of TV networks, digital platforms and publishers as they bring their TV budgets online.

“OTT is a TV product. OTT is not a kid watching Netflix on the subway on his phone. OTT is people watching full-episode programming, typically in the living room, often with other people,” said Halley.

Update (4/17) - From Cord Cutters News:

Viacom Plans to Add 15 Channels to Pluto TV With Content From Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, & More

Last week Cord Cutters News broke the news that Viacom planned to add more content to Pluto TV from Viacom networks. Now it is being reported that Viacom will be adding 15 new channels to Pluto TV including content from MTV including shows like “The Hills” and content from Comedy Central, BET and Nickelodeon according to Sadly no date has been announced for when this new content will be added.

Last week at NAB Glenn Goldstein from Viacom talked about the future of Pluto TV. Goldstein once again announced plans to bring Viacom-branded content to Pluto TV. This news comes as Pluto TV announces a new deal to bring BBC content to Pluto TV. This was first hinted at when Viacom purchased Pluto TV. Now it is reconfirmed that Pluto TV will be slowly adding Viacom content from places like MTV, Paramount, Comedy Central, and VH1.

A few months ago, Viacom announced plans to buy Pluto TV. The CEO of Pluto TV said: “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.” Pluto TV CEO and Co-Founder Tom Ryan continued, “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.”

Viacom has been clear that they plan to keep Pluto TV free. Viacom’s CEO Bob Bakish on CNBC pushed the idea of how Pluto TV as a free service is important to Viacom. “We love how (Pluto TV) fits in with over 12 million active users. We have a ton of (ads) to sell and that is where Pluto TV comes in.”


From The Streamable:

Classic TV Shows from MTV, Comedy Central, BET, and Nickelodeon Coming to Pluto TV

According to a report from DIGIDAY, Viacom will launch 10-15 new channels based on their library of content. Viacom has confirmed to The Streamable that the channels will launch later this spring and include variations of their flagship channels like MTV, Nickelodeon, BET and Comedy Central. They are also expected to debut "pop-up" channels like "The Hills", which will return to MTV this summer, to promote shows on their linear channels.

Viacom has been using these new networks as part of their upfront pitch to lure advertisers. Unlike other networks, the company no longer does a massive upfront pitch in May to announce programming, instead they set-up Presidents Dinners with agencies which started at the beginning of April.

At these events, they have been promoting their recently acquired ad-supported streaming service, Pluto TV, as a way to assail fears of cord-cutting. Viacom has told advertisers that they will launch linear networks on the service that will be made up of classic shows from their various properties like MTV's The Hills. It is expected that they will do similar with their library of shows from Comedy Central, BET, and Nickelodeon.

Last week, Pluto TV Co-Founder & CEO Tom Ryan shared that since Viacom acquired Pluto TV in January, the company grew from 12 million to 15 million unique monthly active users. It's expected that they will offer advertisers inventory on Pluto TV as part of bundled ad packages that include their linear channels, but also as digital-only buys.

In February, Viacom said that they plan to use their infrastructure to expand Pluto TV’s footprint in the United States and around the world. The company also hopes to expand on the platform's 100 live linear channels with their deep library genre-specific content - kids (Nickelodeon), African-American (BET), reality (MTV & VH1), and comedy (Comedy Central).

Viacom also sees Pluto TV as a marketing engine to sell their own OTT services -- Noggin, Comedy Central Now, and Nick Hits. But don't expect first-run content to appear on Pluto TV, as Viacom says they will keep that content for their own linear channels.


From Appleosophy:

Pluto TV to Get 15 Viacom Channels

According to Cord Cutter News, Pluto TV will be adding not one, but 15 Viacom channels to its free live TV streaming service. These channels include Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and BET, just to name a few.

We did publish an opinion article last week about how Viacom should bring a Nickelodeon channel to Pluto TV. This would include making sure that there are channels set up for watch TeenNick shows like Drake and Josh and iCarly, as well as a channel that could be dedicated to just showing reruns of Spongebob Squarepants.

Even though this does sound like it would be expensive for both companies, Viacom has said that they do plan on keeping Pluto TV a free service. Viacom’s CEO Bob Bakish said to CNBC:

“We love how (Pluto TV) fits in with over 12 million active users. We have a ton of (ads) to sell and that is where Pluto TV comes in.”

This comes at a time where Pluto TV recently announced a partnership with the BBC to air old BBC TV shows such as Classic Doctor Who.

At this time, there is no set date as for when the 15 Viacom channels will be coming to Pluto TV, nor is there a set date for when the older BBC TV shows come to service either.

Pluto TV is available for free on the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Apple TV and Mac.


More Nick: Nickelodeon Embarks on New Direction with its Biggest, Most Wide-Ranging Content Slate Ever | Nick Upfront 2019!

Originally published: Tuesday, April 16, 2019.
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