Media

Pluto TV takes $13M for its free linear TV streaming service

A screenshot of Pluto TV's "420" channel.

Above: A screenshot of Pluto TV's "420" channel.

Image Credit: Pluto TV

A lot of tech reporting tends to paint traditional (and expensive) cable TV service’s linear video watching experience as awful, but anyone who’s lived alone knows sometimes it’s just nice to have a TV channel on in the background. If that channel is airing content that’s somewhat interesting/entertaining, even better.

That’s why streaming video platform Pluto TV is kind of brilliant. It offers free access to over a hundred different video streams (aka channels), which are preprogrammed the way TV channels are. And those channels are filled with things you’d actually want to watch, such as anime, gadget reviews, and original web series. There’s even an entire channel devoted to marijuana. But it also has quite a few “background” channels, such as an endless video feed of adorable puppies, ice cream melting (literally), and trains traveling through the European countryside. (That last one — Slow TV — is my personal favorite to fall asleep to.)

The service is available on the web as well as on set-top boxes like Amazon’s Fire TV, streaming sticks like Chromecast, and other Android-powered devices.

And today the Los Angeles-based startup announced that it has closed a fresh $13 million round of funding. The series A round was led by USVP, with participation from United Talent Agency, Sky, Chicago Ventures, Great Oaks Venture Capital, and Luminari Capital. Pluto TV said it plans to use the new capital to increase its video content and add support for the streaming TV service on more platforms.

In addition to the funding, Pluto TV also announced that it’s adding a handful of seasoned media-tech industry execs to its list of advisers, including Spotify chief content officer Ken Parks, King COO Stephane Kurgan, and former Yahoo/Guggenheim Media/Fox Interactive exec Ross Levinsohn.

These adviser additions, along with the funding, signal that Pluto TV has big plans to create a viable business out of linear TV without the need of expensive licensed programming. If successful, this should cause disruption in the pay TV space currently dominated by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, Dish Network, and a handful of others.