Pluto TV is billed as “free and unlimited TV.” But the internet is replete with alleged sources of “free TV,” and not all of them are entirely functional – or entirely legal. So what is Pluto TV? Are “real” channels available on Pluto TV, or just “Pluto TV channels” – and what are Pluto TV channels, anyway? Is Pluto TV safe, or is there a “Pluto TV virus” to worry about? We’re here to tackle all of those questions and more as we cover Pluto TV’s channels, features, and purpose.
What Is Pluto TV?
Pluto TV is a streaming service. It’s entirely free, and it’s full of live channels – sort of, but not entirely, like cable and cable-like streaming “skinny bundles.”
You may already know about live TV streaming services, or “skinny bundles,” like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue. These pay TV services offer live television networks for less – but not for free. Pluto TV is free, though. How can that be?
The secret is in Pluto TV’s channels and content. Cable networks like AMC and TBS aren’t cheap, but Pluto TV ducks that issue by offering a smaller selection while supplementing its content with its own Pluto TV channels. At launch, Pluto TV’s free service was populated almost entirely by channels of Pluto TV’s own design. These “live” channels often acted essentially like playlists of free web content from video sharing sites.
Such Pluto-specific Pluto TV channels still dominate the selection, but Pluto TV has added some great content and even a few familiar channels since its launch. CBSN, CNBC, Bloomberg Television, IGN, and Sky News are all available on Pluto TV. Pluto TV channels also include offerings from familiar brands like Nerdist (known for its podcasts and YouTube videos). But you won’t see much in the way of entertainment-focused network channels – the aforementioned AMC and TBS are not among the many Pluto TV channels, at least not yet.
So Pluto TV is indeed a live TV service of sorts. It includes some familiar channels. It could fairly be described as “free TV,” and it’s certainly “unlimited” in the sense that you’re welcome to watch as much of what it has as you want. But in terms of its content, it’s hardly “unlimited.” You can’t use Pluto TV to watch Comedy Central or AMC. But hey, you can’t beat the price! For a free service, Pluto TV has a ton to offer.
Is Pluto TV Legal? Is Pluto TV Safe?
There are plenty of sketchy “free live TV” websites out there on the internet. Is Pluto TV one of them? Is there, as some people believe, a “Pluto TV virus?”
Pluto TV is a legitimate service, not a scam. It’s not too good to be true, because (as we talked about above) the selection of Pluto TV channels does not include a ton of pricey pay TV channels. Pluto TV isn’t stealing its content, and there’s currently no reason to believe that there’s anything shady about their business model at all.
It’s true that some “virus removal sites” claim that Pluto TV is adware, but this view of the service doesn’t hold up to much scrutiny. Some sources say that Pluto TV works as a browser extension, which is untrue – if you download Pluto TV, it runs and works as a separate program, not as part of your browser. Some sources claim to have seen pop-up ads within their browsers that say things like “powered by Pluto TV,” and there are instructions online for “removing the Pluto TV virus,” but none of this seems to line up with what Pluto TV actually is: in our trials, we saw no pop-up ads from Pluto TV and saw no signs whatsoever of Pluto TV’s program having anything to do with our browsers. And these guides that bill themselves as ways to “remove the Pluto TV virus” seem to almost always just be step-by-step instructions for uninstalling Pluto TV – which you can do in the same way you’d uninstall any program, for the simple reason that Pluto TV is a regular program, and not a virus!
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, of course, that a seemingly legitimate company could be up to something shady. We’ve seen services like uTorrent get caught stashing unwanted programs on our computers, so not all viruses come from obvious places. But, as of this writing, we have seen no evidence to suggest that rumors of a “Pluto TV virus” have any substance to them at all. If we ever see any, we’ll update this post; but for now, rest easy.
Pluto TV Channels: The Selection, the Format, and Our Picks for the Best Pluto TV Channels
Pluto TV has more than 100 different channels. Many of those are Pluto TV’s own channels, not familiar cable networks, but that doesn’t mean that the channels don’t have familiar movies and TV shows on them. Pluto TV makes deals directly with content producers like MGM and Lionsgate, allowing it to then popular its many live channels with content from those companies. That’s a little different from pay TV’s traditional model, in which studios deal with networks and networks, in turn, deal with the TV service company.
But Pluto TV channels also include some familiar networks. For the most part, it is news channels like CNBC and Bloomberg that have made the jump. Then there are standalone networks from outside brands that may not have channels on Pluto TV’s pay TV competitors – Nerdist, for instance.
Put it all together and you have a nice selection of channels, especially considering that we’re talking about a free service.
A full list of Pluto TV’s channels isn’t as useful as it might sound, because so many of the channels are Pluto TV exclusives, not ones you’d recognize from your cord-having days. Plus, Pluto TV’s content has been known to vary a bit from platform to platform.
Still, it’s at least worth taking a look at a partial list of Pluto TV channels to get a sense of what’s available on the service. Here are a few worth noting!
- What’s On shows you what’s happening on Pluto TV channels right now, making it a great place to start for the uninitiated.
- Live Music Replay airs concert and live-in-studio footage of all kinds of bands and musicians.
- Pluto TV Movies and Pluto TV Movies 2 are Pluto TV channels dedicated to – you guessed it – movies. There are also genre-specific channels like Action Movies, Horror 24/7, and Classic Movies.
- CBSN is one of several news stations on Pluto TV that you might actually recognize. NBC News/MSNBC (a split channel that airs content from both of those NBC brands), CNBC, and Bloomberg Television are others.
- RT America, the U.S. branch of Russian Television, and Sky News are also available among the Pluto TV news channels.
- Pluto TV Sports is Pluto TV’s flagship sports network.
- Big Sky Conference has its own Pluto TV channel.
- WPT(World Poker Tour) and Sports News are among the other sports channels.
- Funny AF leads Pluto TV channels’ comedy offerings.
- MST3K airs nothing but Mystery Science Theater 3000, of course.
- The Onion and Cracked have their own channels, too.
- IGN and Nerdist have your geek TV cravings covered.
- THC and Eye Candy cater to Pluto TV viewers who are under the influence, and they’re not the only Pluto TV channels that do so.
- Classic Toons shows old-school cartoons.
- People TV is a highlight of Pluto TV’s Life + Style category of Pluto TV channels.
- Food TV is, well, exactly what it sounds like.
- NASA TV is the Pluto TV channel to turn to when you’re hoping to actually see Pluto.
- The Oldies, Dash Indie, and Fuego are just a few of Pluto TV’s solid selection of musical channels. Unlike all of the Pluto TV channels above, these channels don’t offer video – just audio.
What Devices Can You Get Pluto TV On?
Pluto TV’s superb platform support is one of the best things about it. The odds are good that you already own a device that can run Pluto TV – in fact, whatever you’re reading this article on would probably work! Here is a complete list of devices that can run Pluto TV as of this writing.
- Android TV
- Amazon Fire TV
- Apple TV
- In-browser app
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