NBCUniversal, Pluto TV ink FAST programming deal

A large collection of programming from NBCUniversal is joining Paramount Global’s free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) service Pluto TV, under a new deal announced Tuesday.

The latest additions bring several dedicated single-IP FAST channels to the Pluto TV platform, including past seasons from NBCU’s Bravo “The Real Housewives” and “Top Chef” franchises, as well as sports, true crime and library series programming. In addition, NBC and Telemundo local FAST channels are launching on the service later this year.

The new content is rolling out on Pluto starting today and throughout the month. In addition to Real Housewives and Top Chef, NBC is also contributing a Bravo Vault channel featuring a rotating library including episodes of “Shahs of Sunset” and “Flipping Out.” An Oxygen True Crimes Archives and an American Crimes FAST channel, the latter featuring “American Greed” and “Lockup,” are also joining Pluto. 

On the sports side the FAST is adding GolfPass and NBC Sports channels, along with channels dedicated to library content including Bad Girls Club, Little House on the Prairie, The Lone Ranger, and Murder, She Wrote. Finally, NBCU is bringing thematic channels to Pluto including Universal Action, Universal Crime and Universal Monsters.

It marks the latest NBCU additions to Pluto’s lineup, which already includes NBC News Now, Today All Day, Dateline 24/7 and Sky News International channels.

In a statement, Pluto TV EVP of Programming Amy Kuessner indicated that reality, crime and drama are high-performing categories on the free streaming service.

“Pluto TV is continuing to build upon our relationship with NBCUniversal by bringing even more of their legendary and award-winning titles to the platform,” said Kuessner in a statement. “We know Pluto TV audiences have a strong affinity for genres like crime, drama and reality, and we are excited to offer our viewers so many channels from the NBCUniversal library in these categories and more.”

A recent report from Samsung Ads pegged both reality TV and news as some of the largest channel categories in the FAST space.

Pluto TV competes in the FAST space against other media-owned FASTs like Fox’s Tubi, Comcast’s Xumo, as well as The Roku Channel, Amazon’s Freevee, and smart TV OEM services like Samsung TV Plus and Vizio’s WatchFree+, among others. In December, Pluto TV captured a 0.7% share of total TV time in the U.S., putting it behind Tubi and The Roku Channel, which held 1.4% and 1% share respectively, according to Nielsen’s The Gauge monthly snapshot.

It’s the latest FAST content deal for NBCUniversal, which added nine channels to The Roku Channel in January, including several channels that are also now joining Pluto.

“From fan-favorite TV series to legendary films, the breadth and caliber of NBCUniversal’s content portfolio is unrivaled,” said Bruce Casino, EVP of U.S. Sales & Distribution for NBCUniversal Global TV Distribution, in a statement. “We’re delighted to extend our partnership with Pluto TV and bring their subscribers our iconic titles through these FAST channels.”

To help viewers better navigate its growing offering of FAST content, Pluto last year launched a category revamp aimed at easing the user experience by surfacing relevant programming with data-driven groupings, helped by a human touch. For more on Pluto TV’s approach to programming and category shuffle for content discovery, read here.

This week has marked a trio of content expansion announcements from FAST players. That includes Samsung TV Plus, which added a channel dedicated to pickleball alongside kid’s content, bringing its FAST channel count to over 350 in the U.S.  Vizio, meanwhile, expanded content on the WatchFree+ FAST service, including 11 channels from Warner Bros. Discovery and six from Lionsgate.  The smart TV-maker also disclosed growth, saying viewing hours on WatchFree+ doubled over the past 12 months.

In a February 6 post, nScreen Media analyst Colin Dixon wrote that Vizio and Samsung’s respective “strong growth encourages smart TV makers to invest more in their FAST.”

That said, the analyst also previously noted content providers are likely to be more careful in 2024 as they decide what type of content to put on FASTs, including pulling channels from platforms that aren’t profitable.

“Content providers will start to rationalize their business this year,” wrote Dixon in a January 7 post. “Now that many have a year or two of experience with FAST services, they will be better equipped to judge the content that will work well on a FAST channel.”