Pluto TV review: 5 things to know about the free live TV streaming service

Pluto TV review: 5 things to know about the free live TV streaming service
Image Credit: Pluto

Live TV streaming services like Sling TV, DirecTV Now 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!

RELATED: Ask Clark: How do I get the cheapest internet service? 

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 America’s free live TV streaming service has to offer…

1. Pluto TV has 100+ genre-themed channels 

You won’t find networks like ESPN, CNN 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 that hit movies, news and TV shows are the most popular, while genres like crime, food and travel also perform very well.

Here’s a sample of Pluto TV’s channels and descriptions provided by the service:

  • Pluto TV Movies: Box office smashes featuring the biggest stars 24/7; new movies added every week
  • CBSN: Never miss out on breaking news with CBSN, the channel that brings you original reporting from CBS News
  • Crime Network: Full seasons of hard-hitting detective dramas, action-packed movies and true crime docs
  • FOX Sports: Game highlights, clips from FS1 studio shows and Fox Sports Digital originals
  • FrontDoor: Information and inspiration to help you make the most out of your home
  • Food TV: Featuring hit TV shows, “Iron Chef: America” and “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations”

There’s a lot 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 20 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.

On-demand movies and TV shows
On-demand movies and TV shows

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.

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:

  • iOS mobile & tablet
  • Android mobile & tablet
  • Android TV
  • Google Nexus Player
  • Google Chromecast
  • Chrome Web App
  • Amazon Kindle Fire
  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick
  • Roku (See players supported)
  • 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. What happened to host Roger Lodge anyway?

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 $40 a month. Here’s our guide to the best streaming plans and deals!

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