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Viacom Buys Streaming Service Pluto TV for $340 Million in Cash

Free service has 12 million monthly viewers and offers more than 100 channels

Viacom has acquired free streaming platform Pluto TV for $340 million in cash on Tuesday, as the media giant continues to add to its digital presence under CEO Bob Bakish.

“Today marks an important step forward in Viacom’s evolution, as we work to move both our company and the industry forward.  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,” Bakish said in a statement.

The popular service gives Viacom a new platform to drive viewers to its subscription products like Comedy Central Now and Noggin, while also tapping into the millions of viewers that come to Pluto TV because it’s free.

Founded in 2013 by Ilya Pozin and CEO Tom Ryan, Pluto TV was created with the idea that despite the growing rise of on-demand video products like Netflix and Hulu, consumers still wanted to consume video in a lean-back environment via 24-hour, TV-like channels. Originally launched with a collection of content pulled from services like YouTube and Vimeo, Pluto TV has grown to offer more than 100 channels and a library of on-demand content from MGM, Lionsgate, and Warner Bros. Driven by its growing content offering and expansion onto platforms including Roku, Chromecast, and Amazon’s Fire TV, the streaming TV service says it now attracts 12 million monthly active users — up from six million in 2017.

“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 said in a statement. “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.”

Ryan will continue to serve as CEO of Pluto TV, which will operate as an independent subsidiary of Viacom upon closing of the transaction, which is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2019.

Tuesday’s acquisition is another step in Bakish’s attempt to make Viacom a major digital player and comes less than a year after Viacom purchased youth-focused AwesomenessTV. Viacom also bought VidCon, the online video conference beloved by teens, in 2018.