Showtime launches free, ad-supported channel on Pluto TV

Showtime is launching a free, ad-supported channel on Pluto TV in hopes of drawing in more paying subscribers.

According to Variety, the new channel goes live on Dec. 1 and features about 250 hours of uncensored Showtime original content, which will be updated monthly. The company said that advertising will consist of pre- and post-rolls so that content isn’t interrupted.

Showtime is hoping to tap into Pluto TV’s audience, which sits around 28.4 million monthly active users, and bring people into the $11.99/month Showtime app.

“We can handpick content from Showtime to reach a whole new audience on Pluto TV,” Michael Engleman, Showtime’s chief marketing officer, told the publication. “Our mission and Pluto TV’s mission is to provide a pathway to upgrade to subscriptions… We’d like it to run indefinitely.”

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A Pluto TV spokesperson told the publication that the company is working on a feature that would allow Pluto TV users to click through directly and subscribe to premium services. “We are currently developing and testing multiple products and features to act as a funnel into paid subscription services across ViacomCBS and other partners. Timing will be announced next year.”

Last month, ViacomCBS reported combined domestic streaming subscribers for Showtime OTT and CBS All Access, which will be rebranded as Paramount+ in 2021. The company said it closed out the third quarter with 17.9 million streaming subscribers, up 72% year over year and nearly past the subscriber goal the company had set for the end of 2020.

The new total suggests that Showtime OTT may be nearing 8 million subscribers. At previous count, CBS All Access and Showtime OTT had a combined 16.2 million subscribers. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Showtime has 27 million subscribers and that 7 million of those subscribe to Showtime OTT.