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Pluto TV is one of the more unique OTT services available today. It's a free ad-supported service, like Crackle, and it uses a live TV channel model, like Sling TV or PlayStation Vue. But Pluto TV's “channels” are not familiar cable properties like the ones that populate Sling TV. Instead, they're mostly curated channels assembled by Pluto TV employees from online videos and licensed content.

It's a unique model. But how well does it work from a user perspective? Here's our full review.

User Experience

Pluto TV screenshot

Pluto TV is pleasant to use on all platforms, and particularly nice to work with on the web app. It's surprisingly feature-loaded for a free service, and includes the ability to follow and save (DVR) shows. An “Explore” feature does a decent, if unspectacular, job in the content discovery department.

The real genius of the Pluto TV user experience is in the idea itself, which sorts a wide variety of content into cable-style channels and organizes it all on a familiar-looking TV guide. Of all of the cable-killers, Pluto TV is the best at replicating that old channel-surfing feeling. It's less interested in forcing you back to the guide or showing you what's on next than it is in letting you flip through channels.

Content

Pluto TV relies largely on free online videos to fill their “channels.” You will see familiar brands, and most of these are news channels: Bloomberg Television, MSNBC, and RT America, among others. But for the most part, Pluto TV's channels are new creations, assembled from a mix of licensed major network programming, online videos, and public domain content.

That makes Pluto TV's content a pretty mixed bag. Bloomberg and MSNBC make the news selection reasonable, though the rest of the news channel spots are filled with questionable channels and slanted reporting. Breaking news is hard to come by, as even some of the branded news channels are just filled with (sometimes very old) video clips and shows rather than live streams.

Comedy is pretty well-represented, thanks to channels dedicated to late-night clips and channels from internet humor giants Cracked and The Onion. Thanks to a deal with Shout! Factory, Shout! Factory TV and a 24/7 Mystery Science Theater 3000 channel are available. Classic and 80s/90s cartoons are available, too.

Pluto TV is strongest with classic content, presumably because those programs are either rights-free or cheap. They also have a lot of channels dedicated to internet staples (funny cat videos, anyone?) and video gaming/geek culture shorts.

Weak spots include culture/lifestyle programming and sports. Sports are where Pluto TV is weakest, because they have no rights to any major events. They make do with classic games, extreme sports footage, and poker. For instance, their baseball channel likes to replay games from last years' World Series, just like my head does on long and sleepless nights.

I was able to access different channels depending on what platform I was using. The web app seemed to have the most. We'll come back to that in a bit.

Streaming Quality

Streaming was very smooth on all of the platforms that I tried. Picture quality wasn't always amazing. However, the picture quality issues were more due to all of the different places this content was coming from – home videos, YouTube series, old movies, and so on – than because of any flaws in the streaming.

Platforms

Pluto TV on iOS
Pluto TV on iOS

Pluto TV is available on a lot of different platforms, including iOS, Android, Roku, and Fire TV – all of which I tested it on. The user experience was very similar (and quite good) on all of them, and I didn't notice any radical differences in streaming quality.

The major difference from platform to platform is, of all things, content. Some channels aren't available on all platforms. Roku is missing the most channels; platforms that can also support full browsers, like iOS and Android, seem to have complete channel lineups.

Price

You can't beat the price of Pluto TV. It's completely free. You'll have to sit through ads, but that's true of cable and skinny bundle services, too.

Verdict

I was pretty enamored of the whole concept of Pluto TV. The service really speaks to my basic need to endlessly channel surf through bad TV, and I love that.

That bad TV is pretty bad, though. Pluto TV has had to make some real compromises on content, and some of the filler they've included is really pretty unwatchable (sorry, cat video lovers). Content-wise, you get what you pay for, and Pluto TV is very far behind pay TV skinny bundles like Sling TV. It's a little better if you're watching on PC, where more content is available.

Pluto TV is no cable-killer, but it's a fun little service that costs absolutely nothing. I had fun using it, and I recommend giving it a shot.

 

37 thoughts on “Pluto TV Review

  1. Avatar Randy Stevens says:

    I enjoy the SkyNews channel on Pluto TV – its good getting a British view of the news especially during the Brexit vote. I also ran across a Star Trek episode, which happened to be an episode from the Star Trek Continues series on YouTube.

    1. Avatar mark d geary says:

      Can’t beat Pluto TV’s price cause it’s free- Just one complaint, you’ll be watching a movie and the same scene keeps repeating. What’s up with that?

      1. Avatar Mike says:

        Thank God. I thought I was going nuts lol. Was just watching the movie Popeye and the same scene repeated twice. Happened last night during a Star Trek TNG episode as well. It made me feel like I was in the Twilight Zone.

    2. Avatar Rach says:

      Not really great where I am. If you want to see the same episodes every other day, at best, you will like it. All they do here is run the same 2 or 3 episodes day after day, week after week, month after month. It will also just freeze for a bit and keeping running the same scene over and over again. You have to exit and start over. Glad I did not have to pay for it.

  2. Avatar Jackie Puppet says:

    I finally bought a smart TV, and while seeing what apps were available, I saw Pluto TV, which I’ve never heard of before today. I don’t have cable, just internet since I haven’t watched TV in over a year (other than the last 2 plays of Super Bowl 51, and the last 3 innings of Game 7 in the World Series).

    I was quite pleasantly surprised to see an MST3K channel, as well as Riff Trax (an updated MST3K), since I was bummed when Comedy Central dropped MST3K long ago.

    Since I don’t watch much TV, Pluto has far more options than over-the-air, and sometimes the vintage stuff is better than what’s on now.

  3. Avatar Sam says:

    I was real angry to see Pluto TV ad on Grindr somehow suggesting “cut” guys make smarter decisions and thus promoting male circumcision. It almost degrades people with uncut cock and suggests that is not a smarter option. Learn to promote just Pluto TV without making biased statements that suggest the wrong thing! However in no worldwide medical study does it substantially prove the benefits of mutilating the foreskin.

  4. Avatar Gary says:

    Uhhh… MSNBC is “regular” news, but the other new channels are “slanted” in their coverage? Wow. That is some statement.

    1. Avatar Pam says:

      That comment also raised huge flags for me. Immediate discounting of reviewer opinion….

      1. Avatar Charles says:

        Same here

    2. Avatar Rob says:

      The “Other” news IS “Real News.

  5. Avatar Hannah Katz says:

    I agree with Gary re MSNBC being deemed “regular” news by the author. MSNBC on a political scale is a little to the left of Leon Trotsky.

  6. Avatar Robert says:

    MSNBC isn’t a “slanted news channel?”

  7. Avatar Deaf-Lover-TIRED-of-DEAF-HATE says:

    Pluto TV went from okay to not okay at all! Ads repeat and do not allow you to ever watch the show. They BAN CC because they HATE the deaf and can NOT force deaf haters to CC anything. The problem is that no one wants to pay for CC anything for the deaf because the deaf do not exist in their Very White Privileged world. The other problem is that those producing free videos can NOT afford to pay the over thousand dollars to CC anything. And YouTube’s CC efforts were so viral and explicitly wrong that it was offensive at best! Pluto TV customer support? I’ve not heard anything back yet. I’m deleting!

  8. Avatar Brian Beatty says:

    You need to get closed captioning on Pluto TV, otherwise you’re leaving out a whole variety of people out there to try to figure out what you’re saying on these shows.

  9. Avatar monkeyfist says:

    Pluto TV is the best. Free with different and unique channels. Keep up the good work.

  10. Avatar Pete says:

    I was very pleasantly surprised by the content and effectiveness of Pluto TV when I downloaded it to my new Roku TV manufactured by Sharp. I liked it so much I Googled Pluto TV to find out more about it. It works well, has a lot of variety of programming, and is free!

  11. Avatar Bonnie says:

    I love Pluto TV… But we need a western channel…

  12. Avatar John Lark says:

    Glad I find this site, because I am deaf and I appreciate seeing the comments here about how Pluto apparently does not have CC for their programming. Waste of time for me to download and install it only to find this important information out. I believe Netflix got sued in the past because they were not offering closed captioning for their content. Maybe that’s what it will take for Pluto TV as well. It’s really a crying shame that they can’t offer captioning, not just for their deaf and hard of hearing customers, but many other people used captioning, whether it’s to enjoy shows with the sound down or to even learn English. I think Pluto should be ashamed of themselves for not having captioning for their content. In my view it doesn’t matter if it’s free or not.

  13. Avatar John Lindstrom says:

    It is all full of commercials and gets stuck on the same ones over and over again, drive you crazy, if you like interruptions that go on and on you will like Pluto TV.

  14. Avatar Kelli says:

    A friend and I fell asleep to a show that has 3 episodes and then you have to put on the next one. At the end it should have re-shown or stopped. I could have lived with commercial ads but no we were woke up with pornograhic movie that showed no title and was awful!!!! I thought that junk cost money and not found on free tv available for innocent children to find!!! This needs a parental filter or something!!!! Will never just let this channel run again!!!!

  15. Avatar John Lark says:

    Like the other folks who are complaining about the lack of CC content on Pluto tv I also think it’s sad that your platform has no programming with Closed Captions. Closed captioning is an asset not just for the Deaf and hearing impaired populations (of which there are millions of members in the U.S. market alone), but also for people who are in the process of learning English or improving their English skills. Closed captioning is also a wonderful feature for couples or people who want to be able to quietly watch a program while their partner or other family members are sleeping or a more quiet environment is desired. In short you do millions of people a disservice by not having content that is closed captioned, so I am extremely disappointed in your platform.

  16. Avatar Jim Brannan says:

    Pluto has a pretty good offering but it is by far the most aggravating to watch. I imagine it is all computerized in how it works but it seems like it’s being run by a group of stoned 20 year old men. While watching a movie or news show a commercial will just pop up out of nowhere, sometimes the movie will stop, sometimes it won’t. Sometimes you will see the picture from the commercial and still hear the movie. Sometimes, and this is the worst, you will see the same 15 second commercial 8 times in a row. And they will play a second or 2 of the movie in between each of them and it can really spoil the scene of the movie. I watch Pluto on my computer and you have to pause it before you exit or the sound from whatever you were watching will just keep playing until you restart the computer. Plus while playing, it will pause for no reason and you just have to click the mouse to restart it. It’s difficult to known when the program is freezing or pausing on it’s own. I often just walk away from this service in frustration, in the middle of shows, it’s that annoying.

    1. Avatar neal says:

      I agree. same issues here. Plus all ways loading…..

  17. Avatar Kenneth Pittman says:

    Way too many ads. 42 commercials during one movie and the ads are the same ones over and over. More ads than program.

  18. Avatar no says:

    Pluto TV worked fine for a few days. Now, everytime I try to change the channel or put on Netflix, Pluto Tv pops up, and continues to pop up every time we take it off.

  19. Avatar Steve says:

    Like WPT and Ask this Old House and a few others BUT they run the most obnoxious ads I have ever seen, over and over again. The political ad is the worse. Tom, go away.

  20. Avatar Jim says:

    Today attempted to watch a program commercials every three minutes. Pluto tv may be free but it is still over priced.

  21. Avatar Sheri Prince says:

    I had cable but when the cable went down I discovered Pluto. I am a game show fanatic, and I love Buzzr. However, lately they interrupt the show for commercials. And when then show finally comes back on for a minute or two the program says they are cutting away for commercials, and then Pluto plays additional commercials. I shouldn’t complain, I mean it is free. But when I’m getting 20minutes of commercials and about 10 minutes or less then the actual program it becomes a bit too much. Love Pluto. Just would like the interruptions lessened if possible.

  22. Avatar Clint says:

    Has some good channels but is not worth watching because of the Massive amount of commercials, has more commercials than regular tv!

  23. Avatar Beatriz Mendoza says:

    I really love Pluto TV; it had a lot of my favorite classic retro shows and movies; I just wish the same commercials wouldn’t play over and over again; u can’t mute them nor fast forward to the show or movie you’re watching; other than that; I love it!

  24. Avatar Elizabeth Gaito says:

    Love Pluto TV. But please get some different season of the Challenge. Get all the seasons from 1 to 34 and put it on the On Demand.

  25. Avatar Tom Otto says:

    I like the old format better,at least you could jump ahead in time by a few hours, and you could go to 007 and see all

  26. Avatar mark d geary says:

    Can’t beat Pluto TV’s price cause it’s free- Just one complaint, you’ll be watching a movie and the same scene keeps repeating. What’s up with that?

  27. Avatar Pamela Rice says:

    My family was watching Pluto everyday until my sons and daughters were starting to talk racist about Asians and other races and they were going to join some boogaloo and race war and saying some very disgruntling things about the pandemic being fake and they don’t need to wear a mask and other things. I asked where they were getting these ideas and they showed me these new news channels on Pluto. OMG. Immediately I removed Pluto from our home.

  28. Avatar KB says:

    Another Liberal Media outlet. Every time a watch it they continue negative ads for President Trump…lies! Go figure..the parent company is CBS!!!!

  29. Avatar Michelle Acosta says:

    I really like Pluto TV. I watch it very often. I like watching the movies of the 80s and 90s. I also like watching the conservative news and opinion channels.

  30. Avatar Dave says:

    where did RT America go?

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37 thoughts on “Pluto TV Review

  1. Avatar Randy Stevens says:

    I enjoy the SkyNews channel on Pluto TV – its good getting a British view of the news especially during the Brexit vote. I also ran across a Star Trek episode, which happened to be an episode from the Star Trek Continues series on YouTube.

    1. Avatar mark d geary says:

      Can’t beat Pluto TV’s price cause it’s free- Just one complaint, you’ll be watching a movie and the same scene keeps repeating. What’s up with that?

      1. Avatar Mike says:

        Thank God. I thought I was going nuts lol. Was just watching the movie Popeye and the same scene repeated twice. Happened last night during a Star Trek TNG episode as well. It made me feel like I was in the Twilight Zone.

    2. Avatar Rach says:

      Not really great where I am. If you want to see the same episodes every other day, at best, you will like it. All they do here is run the same 2 or 3 episodes day after day, week after week, month after month. It will also just freeze for a bit and keeping running the same scene over and over again. You have to exit and start over. Glad I did not have to pay for it.

  2. Avatar Jackie Puppet says:

    I finally bought a smart TV, and while seeing what apps were available, I saw Pluto TV, which I’ve never heard of before today. I don’t have cable, just internet since I haven’t watched TV in over a year (other than the last 2 plays of Super Bowl 51, and the last 3 innings of Game 7 in the World Series).

    I was quite pleasantly surprised to see an MST3K channel, as well as Riff Trax (an updated MST3K), since I was bummed when Comedy Central dropped MST3K long ago.

    Since I don’t watch much TV, Pluto has far more options than over-the-air, and sometimes the vintage stuff is better than what’s on now.

  3. Avatar Sam says:

    I was real angry to see Pluto TV ad on Grindr somehow suggesting “cut” guys make smarter decisions and thus promoting male circumcision. It almost degrades people with uncut cock and suggests that is not a smarter option. Learn to promote just Pluto TV without making biased statements that suggest the wrong thing! However in no worldwide medical study does it substantially prove the benefits of mutilating the foreskin.

  4. Avatar Gary says:

    Uhhh… MSNBC is “regular” news, but the other new channels are “slanted” in their coverage? Wow. That is some statement.

    1. Avatar Pam says:

      That comment also raised huge flags for me. Immediate discounting of reviewer opinion….

      1. Avatar Charles says:

        Same here

    2. Avatar Rob says:

      The “Other” news IS “Real News.

  5. Avatar Hannah Katz says:

    I agree with Gary re MSNBC being deemed “regular” news by the author. MSNBC on a political scale is a little to the left of Leon Trotsky.

  6. Avatar Robert says:

    MSNBC isn’t a “slanted news channel?”

  7. Avatar Deaf-Lover-TIRED-of-DEAF-HATE says:

    Pluto TV went from okay to not okay at all! Ads repeat and do not allow you to ever watch the show. They BAN CC because they HATE the deaf and can NOT force deaf haters to CC anything. The problem is that no one wants to pay for CC anything for the deaf because the deaf do not exist in their Very White Privileged world. The other problem is that those producing free videos can NOT afford to pay the over thousand dollars to CC anything. And YouTube’s CC efforts were so viral and explicitly wrong that it was offensive at best! Pluto TV customer support? I’ve not heard anything back yet. I’m deleting!

  8. Avatar Brian Beatty says:

    You need to get closed captioning on Pluto TV, otherwise you’re leaving out a whole variety of people out there to try to figure out what you’re saying on these shows.

  9. Avatar monkeyfist says:

    Pluto TV is the best. Free with different and unique channels. Keep up the good work.

  10. Avatar Pete says:

    I was very pleasantly surprised by the content and effectiveness of Pluto TV when I downloaded it to my new Roku TV manufactured by Sharp. I liked it so much I Googled Pluto TV to find out more about it. It works well, has a lot of variety of programming, and is free!

  11. Avatar Bonnie says:

    I love Pluto TV… But we need a western channel…

  12. Avatar John Lark says:

    Glad I find this site, because I am deaf and I appreciate seeing the comments here about how Pluto apparently does not have CC for their programming. Waste of time for me to download and install it only to find this important information out. I believe Netflix got sued in the past because they were not offering closed captioning for their content. Maybe that’s what it will take for Pluto TV as well. It’s really a crying shame that they can’t offer captioning, not just for their deaf and hard of hearing customers, but many other people used captioning, whether it’s to enjoy shows with the sound down or to even learn English. I think Pluto should be ashamed of themselves for not having captioning for their content. In my view it doesn’t matter if it’s free or not.

  13. Avatar John Lindstrom says:

    It is all full of commercials and gets stuck on the same ones over and over again, drive you crazy, if you like interruptions that go on and on you will like Pluto TV.

  14. Avatar Kelli says:

    A friend and I fell asleep to a show that has 3 episodes and then you have to put on the next one. At the end it should have re-shown or stopped. I could have lived with commercial ads but no we were woke up with pornograhic movie that showed no title and was awful!!!! I thought that junk cost money and not found on free tv available for innocent children to find!!! This needs a parental filter or something!!!! Will never just let this channel run again!!!!

  15. Avatar John Lark says:

    Like the other folks who are complaining about the lack of CC content on Pluto tv I also think it’s sad that your platform has no programming with Closed Captions. Closed captioning is an asset not just for the Deaf and hearing impaired populations (of which there are millions of members in the U.S. market alone), but also for people who are in the process of learning English or improving their English skills. Closed captioning is also a wonderful feature for couples or people who want to be able to quietly watch a program while their partner or other family members are sleeping or a more quiet environment is desired. In short you do millions of people a disservice by not having content that is closed captioned, so I am extremely disappointed in your platform.

  16. Avatar Jim Brannan says:

    Pluto has a pretty good offering but it is by far the most aggravating to watch. I imagine it is all computerized in how it works but it seems like it’s being run by a group of stoned 20 year old men. While watching a movie or news show a commercial will just pop up out of nowhere, sometimes the movie will stop, sometimes it won’t. Sometimes you will see the picture from the commercial and still hear the movie. Sometimes, and this is the worst, you will see the same 15 second commercial 8 times in a row. And they will play a second or 2 of the movie in between each of them and it can really spoil the scene of the movie. I watch Pluto on my computer and you have to pause it before you exit or the sound from whatever you were watching will just keep playing until you restart the computer. Plus while playing, it will pause for no reason and you just have to click the mouse to restart it. It’s difficult to known when the program is freezing or pausing on it’s own. I often just walk away from this service in frustration, in the middle of shows, it’s that annoying.

    1. Avatar neal says:

      I agree. same issues here. Plus all ways loading…..

  17. Avatar Kenneth Pittman says:

    Way too many ads. 42 commercials during one movie and the ads are the same ones over and over. More ads than program.

  18. Avatar no says:

    Pluto TV worked fine for a few days. Now, everytime I try to change the channel or put on Netflix, Pluto Tv pops up, and continues to pop up every time we take it off.

  19. Avatar Steve says:

    Like WPT and Ask this Old House and a few others BUT they run the most obnoxious ads I have ever seen, over and over again. The political ad is the worse. Tom, go away.

  20. Avatar Jim says:

    Today attempted to watch a program commercials every three minutes. Pluto tv may be free but it is still over priced.

  21. Avatar Sheri Prince says:

    I had cable but when the cable went down I discovered Pluto. I am a game show fanatic, and I love Buzzr. However, lately they interrupt the show for commercials. And when then show finally comes back on for a minute or two the program says they are cutting away for commercials, and then Pluto plays additional commercials. I shouldn’t complain, I mean it is free. But when I’m getting 20minutes of commercials and about 10 minutes or less then the actual program it becomes a bit too much. Love Pluto. Just would like the interruptions lessened if possible.

  22. Avatar Clint says:

    Has some good channels but is not worth watching because of the Massive amount of commercials, has more commercials than regular tv!

  23. Avatar Beatriz Mendoza says:

    I really love Pluto TV; it had a lot of my favorite classic retro shows and movies; I just wish the same commercials wouldn’t play over and over again; u can’t mute them nor fast forward to the show or movie you’re watching; other than that; I love it!

  24. Avatar Elizabeth Gaito says:

    Love Pluto TV. But please get some different season of the Challenge. Get all the seasons from 1 to 34 and put it on the On Demand.

  25. Avatar Tom Otto says:

    I like the old format better,at least you could jump ahead in time by a few hours, and you could go to 007 and see all

  26. Avatar mark d geary says:

    Can’t beat Pluto TV’s price cause it’s free- Just one complaint, you’ll be watching a movie and the same scene keeps repeating. What’s up with that?

  27. Avatar Pamela Rice says:

    My family was watching Pluto everyday until my sons and daughters were starting to talk racist about Asians and other races and they were going to join some boogaloo and race war and saying some very disgruntling things about the pandemic being fake and they don’t need to wear a mask and other things. I asked where they were getting these ideas and they showed me these new news channels on Pluto. OMG. Immediately I removed Pluto from our home.

  28. Avatar KB says:

    Another Liberal Media outlet. Every time a watch it they continue negative ads for President Trump…lies! Go figure..the parent company is CBS!!!!

  29. Avatar Michelle Acosta says:

    I really like Pluto TV. I watch it very often. I like watching the movies of the 80s and 90s. I also like watching the conservative news and opinion channels.

  30. Avatar Dave says:

    where did RT America go?

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