Pluto TV: What It Is and How to Watch It

Discover free live TV streaming

Pluto TV is a free streaming service. So while the number of streaming services keeps growing and most require a subscription or pay-per-view fee, Pluto TV won't add a cost to your monthly bills.

What Is Pluto TV

Pluto TV combines an assortment of live streaming channels (some of which are in-house and others are third-party) and on-demand movies and TV shows from its extensive library. 

In order to pay for the shows and movies there are occasional ads. The ads are usually at the beginning of the show or movie or might be inserted in during the content.

Who Owns Pluto TV

Pluto TV was started in 2013 and, as of, March 2019 is owned by Viacom. In addition to tapping into Viacom's library, Pluto TV also offers content from MGM, Columbia TriStar, DHX Media, Nelvana, Fremantle, Monstercat, King Features Syndicate, and more.

Where You Can Find Pluto TV

Pluto TV is available for:

  • Smart TVs from Sony, Samsung, Vizio, Roku TVs, Fire Edition TVs, and more.
  • Media Streamers from Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV (4th Generation) and Chromecast (and TVs with Chromecast built-in).
  • PCs and Macs.
  • Sony Playstation 4 (not available for Xbox One).
  • Comcast Cable Infinity X1.
  • Android and iOS smartphones.

On Vizio TVs, Pluto TV is referred to as "WatchFree" and already installed as an input content source, no app to download and install. Updates are made automatically.

Vizio WatchFree Channel Guide
Image provided by Vizio

Pluto TV is not available for LG TVs as they incorporate a feature called "LG Channels or LG Channel Plus" which is licensed from XUMO.

LG Channels – Onscreen Interface Example

Getting Started With Pluto TV

If your TV or media streaming device is on Pluto TV's compatibility list check to see if the Pluto TV app is pre-installed. If not, find it on your device's app store. Then you can download and install it according to your device's instructions. Below are some examples of how to add apps to several types of devices.

How Pluto TV Works

To watch anything on Pluto TV, launch the app (no sign-in required), find a live channel or on-demand movie or TV show, and select it to view. 

Watching Live Channels

The live channels are linear. This means they run in real-time. In order to watch the entire show, you should look as the listings ahead of time so you can find out when they start, just as you would with antenna or cable TV. 

Pluto TV – Live TV Listing Page

For TVs that have the Pluto TV app installed and also receive broadcast channels via antenna, the broadcast channels will also be incorporated into the Pluto TV Live TV listings under the sub-category: Over-The-Air.

Pluto TV – Over-The-Air TV Listing

Watching On-Demand Movies and TV Shows

If you are looking for an on-demand movie or TV show, go to the Free Movies & TV Shows category and select the title you want to watch. The movie or TV show will start at the beginning. If you don't like your selection, you can stop it and choose something else.

Pluto TV – Free Movies and TV Page

For a buffer-free viewing experience, Pluto TV suggests and internet speed from 6 to 10 Mbps. However, for the 4K channel, you may need as much as 25mbps.

The Pluto TV Activation Option

To complement your viewing experience, Pluto TV offers an option that provides some added flexibility, referred to as Activation

Here are the steps:

  1. Click on the Activation icon on the Pluto TV app homepage of your TV or another compatible device. At the top of the homepage, a banner will appear with two prompts, a link to the Pluto TV activate page on a PC or smartphone and a Use Code.

    Pluto TV – Activate Prompt on TV Screen
  2. On your smartphone or PC go to https://pluto.tv/activate. Type in the Use Code for your device.

    Pluto TV – Activate Code Entry Using Web Browser on PC

After entering the provided Use Code, Activation then provides you access to two additional features.

  1. You can use your Pluto TV app on your smartphone to navigate Pluto TV on your device.
  2. You can edit the Pluto TV channel line-up. This means that you can hide the channels that you don't watch from appearing on the home page channel list. 

With the editing feature, you can always go back and unhide any previously hidden channels if you want to view them. 

My Pluto TV – Hide/Unhide Channels Screen

The Pluto TV Mobile App

To further support its streaming service, Pluto also offers a smartphone app. 

To use Pluto TV features on your smartphone, download and install the mobile app and follow the onscreen prompts.

Pluto TV Smartphone App – Sign-Up

Once installed, you can view live TV and On-demand movies and shows on your mobile device.

In addition, a third feature labeled My Pluto, allows you to:

  • Activate Pluto on multiple devices. 
  • Edit your channel list.
  • Use the app as a Pluto TV remote control on activated devices.
  • Check and edit your Pluto TV settings, such as changing your password and contacting support.
Pluto TV Smartphone App – Live TV, Movies and TV, My Pluto TV

The Channels Pluto TV Offers

Pluto TV offers about 200 live TV Channels (news ones are added periodically).

The exact number of channels and/or content titles may vary by device or location depending on content streaming rights.

Although the main viewing categories are Live TV and Free Movies & TV Shows, there are subcategories that make it easier to navigate.

In the Live TV category, the channels are grouped in:

  • Movies
  • News
  • Sports
  • Comedy 
  • Geek and Gaming 
  • Entertainment
  • Life+Style
  • Curiosity
  • Music and Radio: A selection of free online music and radio stations mostly in partnership with Dash Radio.

In the On-Demand TV Shows & Movies category some of the options are (similar to categories you might find on Netflix):

  • Most Popular Movies
  • Top TV Series
  • New Movies This Month
  • Recently Added Series
  • Last Chance to Watch
  • Genres: Action, Comedy, Drama, Thrillers, Sci-Fi and more.

On the web browser version, there is also a Trending category which is sort of like the video stories you might find on YouTube.

The Bottom Line

Cord-cutting opens a wide world of content viewing options on your TV, and most gravitate towards paid streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, etc. 

However, if you are looking for an option that provides a large selection of movies and TV shows, with some live TV channels thrown-in, and don't mind some occasional ads, Pluto TV may be just the option for you.

After all, it doesn't cost anything to check out.