Pluto TV has an Ad Problem
If you read our last article on Pluto TV we praised this free service for its huge library of live TV and on demand content. We still love Pluto TV and recommend it to all of our Skystream family members. We actually reached out to Pluto TV to see if we could create some kind of agreement that would be mutually beneficial for both of us. We would write articles, send emails, make social media posts promoting Pluto TV. We would also get a tiny portion of the profit that Pluto TV made from the thousands of customers we introduced to their service. It seemed like a great idea for both of us. However, Pluto TV was not on board saying that they only did deals like that with Major companies. Pluto TV basically told us we were to small to make it worth their time.
We get it and have no hard feelings. We will still actively promote Pluto TV because we want it to thrive. We love the idea of free content that makes money through ads and not through expensive monthly subscriptions. This was the original business plan for TV back in the days before large cable companies were created. We want Pluto TV, Crackle and Tubi to grow and become the new way content is delivered.
The ad problem that Pluto TV has is actually two problems. The first is very minor and probably an easy fix. The timing of Pluto’s ads are random and do not coincide with what is playing on the screen. Most shows show their logo screen when a commercial is about to start playing. Then show the logo screen when the ads are over and the show begins. Pluto TV seems to completely ignore this and makes the ads play at weird times. For example, many times we are watching a show, the actual show ends, then ads start playing, when the ads end the credits for the show start playing. Like we said, this is not a big deal but it is slightly annoying at times.
The second problem, we feel is a major problem for Pluto TV and a kind of annoying thing for their viewers. While Pluto TV has about the same amount of ads as a normal TV channel, it’s not the amount of ads that are the problem. It is what ads are shown and the repetitiveness of these ads. Let’s explain.
On any normal TV channel you have a mix of companies advertising and the actual channel promoting its content line up to keep you watching that channel. This mix is roughly 80% advertisers and 20% channel promotion. Pluto TV has about the same ratio except that it is flipped backwards. About 80% to 90% of the ads that are shown on Pluto TV are Pluto promoting its other channels and content. The other 10% to 20% are actual ads. This is not a good sign for a platform that only makes money from ads.
While self promotion does help Pluto retain viewers and in theory get viewers watching more content / ads. But in Pluto’s case the other channels and content are airing the same 80%-90% promotional ads. So I may be watching one channel, see an ad for a different channel, switch to that channel and then see ads promoting the channel I was just watching.
What this creates for the viewer is seeing the same ads over and over and over. We added the extra over because I can honestly say that I have seen an ad for a comedy special about 75 times. The joke was funny the first two, but has gotten old an annoying every time after that.
We highly doubt that Pluto TV is turning down ad revenue to promote other channels. That would not make sense in any way. So Pluto either doesn’t have enough users or it doesn’t have enough advertisers to fill all of its advertising time. Our guess is the latter as Pluto has over 15 million users.
Another instance kind of cemented the fact that Pluto doesn’t have enough advertisers to fill it’s time. Three days before the new Call of Duty video game was released, Pluto was showing me Call of Duty ads literally back to back. I am not exaggerating in any way. I would watch three Call of Duty ads in a row and then it would go back to the show. This repeated itself for the next three days. What this shows is that a company with deep pockets wanted to create a huge campaign for their new video game and decided to throw some extra marketing dollars at Pluto users.
I have seen these same commercials weeks before on other platforms and still continue to see them on normal channels. However, I do not see them on Pluto anymore. What this tells me is that big advertisers do not view Pluto TV as a primary advertising vehicle at this time.
To wrap this up we love Pluto TV, we want it to succeed and become the new way content is delivered and we will still promote it to all of our customers. We just hope that they can get enough advertisers on board so that it feels like watching normal TV and not an endless cycle of watching Pluto TV promotions 90% of the time.