Pluto TV adds select content from premium movie network Showtime

The pop-up channel is intended to draw more subscribers to Showtime's premium movie network and streaming app.
The logo of premium cable TV network Showtime. (Logo: ViacomCBS/Graphic: The Desk)

Free streaming service Pluto TV launched a new channel this week that contains uncensored television shows from premium network Showtime.

The new offering, called Showtime Selects, is a window shop channel that contains a hand-selected mixture of episodes from original shows that aired on the network.

At launch, Showtime Selects will feature around 250 hours of content from shows like “The Affair,” “Billions,” “Californication,” “Ray Donovan” and other hit Showtime series.

Both Showtime and Pluto TV are owned by ViacomCBS, and while the channel won’t stream the full catalog of any show, executives at the media company are hoping viewers will become hooked enough on a show to eventually pay for Showtime‘s streaming service, which currently costs $11 a month.

“We can handpick content from Showtime to reach a whole new audience on Pluto TV,” Michael Engleman, the chief marketing officer for Showtime, told an entertainment trade publication. “Our mission, and Pluto TV’s mission, is to provide a pathway to upgrade to subscriptions.”

It could also be a boon for other streaming services, including Comcast’s Peacock which has a distribution deal to carry some original Showtime programs.

Showtime Selects will contain ads before and after episodes, but unlike other Pluto TV channels, no commercials will interrupt the shows themselves.

Content on Showtime Selects will also not be censored. Showtime’s original programming is known to skew toward a more mature audience.

If Pluto TV is successful at converting viewers into Showtime subscribers, the service might eventually launch additional streams for its other products, including its forthcoming service Paramount Plus.

On Tuesday, a Pluto TV spokesperson hinted as much in a statement provided to reporters, saying the service was “currently developing and testing multiple products and features to act as a funnel into paid subscription services across ViacomCBS and other partners.”

ViacomCBS has invested heavily in beefing up what Pluto TV has to offer since it acquired the streaming TV service for $340 million last year. In addition to launching ViacomCBS-branded channels, the company recently tapped Pluto TV’s co-founder Tom Ryan to serve as the chief executive of all ViacomCBS streaming operations.

Last month, ViacomCBS said Pluto TV had 36 million viewers across more than a half-dozen countries where the service is offered, with the bulk of those viewers based in the United States.

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