Pluto TV Review – Is It Worth It?

Posted by Robert Hayes on May 8, 2019

Pluto TV is a streaming service that works over the Internet. Unlike many streaming services such as Prime Video, Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Hulu, Netflix, etc., Pluto TV is completely free. If you’ve ever used one of the media streaming apps like Plex or Kodi, Pluto TV feels a bit like that, but without the guilty suspicion that half the content you’re looking at is probably violating someone’s copyright.

Pluto TV’s model is that they curate public content into organized channels by collecting media from various legitimate free sources and then organizing them into categories such as news, sports, comedy, gaming, chill out, entertainment, music, radio and a whole lot more. This page on the Pluto TV website shows you just how much content is available; it’s a lot. As of May 2019, Pluto has 75 content deals and more than 100 free channels, with 15 million subscribers. The service makes their money by showing ads between programs.

How to access Pluto TV

Pluto TV is available on just about every platform in existence. There are Pluto TV apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and just about every streaming video player, including Roku, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, PlayStation 4, and ChromeCast. The apps are light-weight, have attractive and efficient interfaces based on the tried and true cable TV grid. One neat feature: on Windows and Mac, you can download the programs you want to watch and see them later. Pluto TV is accessible via an app or directly in the browser. Apps are available for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android and seem to work okay. I have not been able to access Pluto TV via any browser on any operating system for almost two weeks so am unable to comment on how good that experience is.

Pluto TV content

Most of the content on Pluto TV comes from public sources. Pluto TV is owned by Viacom, the large cable company, and as a result the service has been able to ink deals with content providers like the BBC, CNBC, NBC, CBSN, IGN, CNET and many others. Pluto TV even has a deal with Hulu to offer all of their public content. The service regularly adds new content to its channels. There is content available both in the channels section, which works just like standard TV – what’s on is on, and you can watch it when it’s on. Then there’s also an extensive On Demand section, where you can pick and choose and watch what you want.

The content is sometimes a curious mix of new and old. The news channels have exactly what you would expect: a few big names like CBS, CNN and Sky News, and then some oddballs like Cheddar News. The movie channels are an eclectic mix of TV oldies, classics, second-string new releases, a fair sampling of older but first-rate movies, and even some genuine recent hits. When I looked at the channel guide in May of 2019, I found movies like “Real Genius”, “The Terminator”, “The Burbs”, “Congo”, “Legally Blonde” and “Legally Blonde 2” and the remake of “True Grit”. It’s not what you’re going to find on HBO or Showtime, but it’s not far off the mark, and it doesn’t cost anything.

Comedy content is pretty good and tends to feature lots of YouTube videos and content from The Onion and Cracked. It too changes often and has broad appeal. Music is mainly YouTube, lifestyle programming is the same although there are lots of YouTube content around exercise, cooking and that kind of thing.

Sports is a weak spot for Pluto TV, presumably because of licensing. While there is some content from Fox Sports, the other sports content is old stuff or extreme sports from the internet. There is a poker channel if that’s your thing though.

Cats 24/7 channel. No more need be said about that one.

Pluto TV price and quality

Pluto TV is free, so price isn’t an issue. Really the only cost to the service is the spot it takes up on your streaming device’s Home menu or your web browser’s toolmarks bar. There are ads in between shows, but they’re considerably less obnoxious in their quantity and frequency than the ones on the TV that we pay for, so it’s really not an issue.

Video quality tends to be good. The user interface is very straightforward except when using a browser, where it can be a little crowded. The content streams offer good quality images and audio although some of the YouTube and publicly available content can be of a poor quality. That isn’t Pluto TVs fault though, as it doesn’t control the source material.

The Pluto TV experience

The user experience is much the same whatever device you use. Once installed, Pluto TV just works. Navigation and stream selection is the same as on any media center app. Find something to watch, select the stream and enjoy. That really is all here is to it.

Is Pluto TV worth watching? For a lazy afternoon when you have nothing else to do, absolutely. As a budget alternative to cable TV? For sure. Is it a complete replacement for cable service? Not really, no. While free and of an excellent quality at that price, the content is really mixed. Some is quite entertaining while some is very poor. I have found that using Pluto TV as the equivalent of “basic cable” (stuff to watch when you’re just in the mood to veg out) and then adding something like Prime Video and/or Netflix as the “premium package” provides an ideal mix of value and new releases.

We have a lot of other resources for you if you’re into streaming services for your TV needs.

Want to stream faster? See our guide to improving your Internet speed for streaming services.

Looking to buy a streaming device? Here’s our head-to-head review of Amazon Fire TV Stick vs. Roku, and our head-to-head look at Chromecast vs. Roku.

Check out our look at all the alternatives to Chromecast.

Sports fan? Be sure to see our tutorial on watching the NFL without cable.


9 thoughts on “Pluto TV Review – Is It Worth It?”

Sue says:
We only have a low cost internet service, about 3.5 mbps and can stream anything we want from Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Now, Netflix, etc.
Kathleen R Mandery says:
I love my Pluto tv. Free and so much to watch. Only drawback is you have to listen to that dumb guy talking . They need to make him more interesting. Otherwise I LOVE IT!
M.Teresa Stutts says:
It does have a few flaws but it’s FREE, they do bring a lot of new channels constantly and have a variety to choose from. There are some that complain but it’s their choice not to pay for cable. Personally I love PLUTO and want to thank everyone involved in bringing us a variety of FREE TV.
Charles Peterson says:
Quality is absolutely superb for Standard Definition, no watermarking, rescaling, compression artifacts, etc. I’ve rarely seen “cable channels” this good. Right at this moment it’s got better programming than OTA–whose subchannels aren’t as good quality. Whenever there’s a chance something isn’t free, for sure what you want isn’t.
Lulu says:
Don’t you still have to pay for quite of bandwidth to stream movies and shows?
Aj says:
It has to many commercials even on selected movies.
Perry J Smith says:
I think it’s a great option for cord cutters. I don’t get a spinning circle. The picture and sound is very good for free. They offer different movies and shows quite often. I watch it on my Sony TV. AND IT’S FREE AND LEGAL.
Thank You Pluto TV!
Matthew says:
Make it to where the resume option actually works .
E Young says:
The only negative to Pluto TV is just as your getting into a program…black screen spinning circle…this sometimes happens every few minutes and happens more in the early part of the day. I can deal with the ads…hey it’s free…but the spinning circle…please fix!!!!,
Haha says:
Dude you have crappy data service. That’s bandwidth problem not Pluto Problem
karl says:
200mbps service and this happens on my nvidia shield, not a bandwidth problem

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