Pluto TV Review: 5 Things to Know About the Free Live TV Streaming Service

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Pluto TV Review: 5 Things to Know About the Free Live TV Streaming Service
Image Credit: Pluto

Live TV streaming services like Sling TV, Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV are helping millions of people cut their cable and satellite TV bills in half or more — and the number of streaming subscribers is growing every day.

But there’s another company called Pluto TV that provides live television and movies at a price we can all afford: FREE!

Pluto TV: Team Clark Reviews the Free Live TV Streaming Service

I stumbled upon Pluto while scrolling through Roku channels and decided to spend some time to learn more about what this free live TV streaming service has to offer…

1. Pluto TV Has 100+ Genre-Themed Channels

You won’t find networks like ESPN, USA and HGTV on Pluto TV, but there are more than 100 genre-themed channels that will deliver entertainment for viewers interested in sports, news and lifestyle programming.

Pluto says it licenses content from major Hollywood studios, TV networks, news organizations and internet channels.

A company spokesperson told Clark.com that hit movies, news and TV shows are the most popular, while genres like crime, food and travel also perform very well.

Pluto is owned by Viacom, so you’ll find lots of library content from networks like MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.

Pluto display on TV and mobile
Pluto display on TV and mobile

There’s a ton of content on Pluto TV, but you have to approach it with the right expectations. After all, it’s a free service. Don’t plan on finding mega-hit shows like “Friends,” which airs on TBS and streams on Netflix.

Many of the TV shows and movies on Pluto are 10 years old, but if you haven’t seen them — they’re new to you.

In addition to its more than 100 genre-themed channels, Pluto TV has thousands of movies and TV shows on-demand. More content is added on a daily basis.

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2. They Have to Make Money Somehow…

Pluto TV really is free and doesn’t ask for your credit card or bank account information. The streaming service supports its business with advertisements, but there are fewer ads compared to traditional TV.

The Roku Channel and Crackle, two other free streaming options, are similar and also have about half the ads.

3. Some News Channels Are Live and Others Are Not

Live news is what keeps a lot of people coming back to Pluto TV, but I learned that not all of the news channels are really live.

For example, the NBC News & MSNBC channel typically airs shows the next day, including “The Rachel Maddow Show,” “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” and “All In with Chris Hayes.”

Meanwhile, clips and full-length shows airing the same day include “Today,” “Meet the Press” and “Nightly News.”

Finding live news on Pluto TV’s other channels isn’t as complicated. There are live streams for CBSN, Newsmax, Newsy, RT America, Sky News and Bloomberg TV.

4. Use the Guide to Find Something to Watch 

With more than 100 channels and on-demand content, Pluto TV’s guide is the best place to start. “What’s on Pluto” (Channel 1) helped me navigate the streaming service as a first-timer.

If you’ve used a traditional TV guide before, there’s no need for a tutorial to learn Pluto’s version. It’s quick and easy to use.

Pluto TV's guide feature
Pluto TV’s guide feature

One thing that’s a little bit different about Pluto’s TV guide is that it only lets you see what’s airing over the next couple of hours, so you can’t get a sneak peek too far into the future.

5. Watch on Your TV, Computer or Smartphone

I first discovered Pluto TV through Roku, but you don’t need to run out and buy a Roku device to watch Pluto. There are plenty of compatible devices for TVs, computers and smartphones:

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  • iOS mobile & tablet
  • Android mobile & tablet
  • Android TV (various)
  • Google Chromecast
  • Chrome Web App
  • Amazon Kindle/Fire Tablets
  • Amazon Fire Tv + Fire Tv Stick
  • Roku Devices + Roku TV
  • Apple TV (4th Generation)

Final Thought 

The best way for me to describe the few hours that I spent testing Pluto TV is like a trip down memory lane.

I saw the 1992 film “Of Mice and Men,” got lost viewing viral videos of cats on the Cats 24/7 channel and watched episodes of the reality show “Blind Date” from the early 2000s.

For me, Pluto isn’t a replacement for any existing TV service that I pay for — it’s more of an added bonus.

Although Pluto TV lacks the latest episodes of hit shows, its genre-based channel lineup has something for everyone: news, comedy, drama, sports, lifestyle, cartoons and more.

If you rely on an antenna and don’t pay for TV at all, Pluto may be a great solution for times when “nothing is on.”

Want to learn more about the other live TV streaming services? Team Clark has tested out a handful of options that cost less than $50 a month. Here’s our guide to the best streaming plans and deals!

More Clark.com Streaming TV Content: 

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