Pluto TV, the streaming offshoot of Viacom CBS, has made a canny push for more market share this week as we see it used to amplify upcoming CBS subscription releases. Pluto TV is, of course, free to watch, and the two-week ‘sample’ of the first episodes of exciting new releases can be seen as a (smart) way to lure in more viewers to their paid services. Blake & Wang P.A. dives a little more in-depth.

Offering exciting series premieres for free as a subscription incentive

Both the upcoming Silence of the Lambs spinoff, Clarice and The Equalizer remake (starring Queen Latifah) are set to show on multiple Pluto Channels as well as their Amazon Prime subscription-walled service. You should also be able to watch for free on CBS YouTube. These will surge on straight after the premiere broadcast for the West Coast timezone. You will also be able to pick up on-demand and live access via and their subscription-supported CBS All Access (soon to relaunch as Paramount+).

This is the first, but certainly will not be the last, of intended free/subscription coordination projected for the channel. We’ve already seen previous Showtime originals and other CBS All Access content offered free on Pluto TV as a bait to raise subscription numbers. Pluto’s last confirmed subscription numbers (28 million active as of November 2020) are certainly impressive. Pair that up with Showtime OTT/CBS’s All Access’ 18 million subscribers, and that’s a big audience to mine. The March 2021 relaunch of CBS All Access will doubtless incentivize those numbers further.

Older CBS content also available for free

While offering brand-new content previews as an incentive like this is certainly new and bold, it’s not the only exciting move CBS has made with Pluto since their merger. We’ve already seen over 40 older shows- including big names like South Park and Star Trek- offered through Pluto’s linear TV-style ad-supported streaming service since July 2020.

This came on the heels of Viacom acquiring the service for $340 million in 2019. Pluto operates throughout 22 countries, including Latin America and Europe as well as the United States. Viacom isn’t alone in looking to the ad-supported streaming market. We also saw Fox acquire Tubi and NBC launch Peacock last year. This could well be a new development overall for the streaming market. Despite the current streaming boom, it’s widely accepted that a finite point will be reached on the subscription model- a point at which any given household considers it has enough subscription access to content- so the investment in other ways to attract and hold viewers is likely smart.

This new ploy from ViacomCBS for Pluto TV seems like an interesting new way to both enhance the appeal of its ad-supported service while luring new viewers in for subscription content too. It will be fascinating to see how it pans out for them as we approach the premiere dates for both. BLAKE & WANG P.A will be watching with interest.

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