Very rarely do I think twice about having cut the cord. All things considered it has been a net positive, and as a fringe benefit has in fact prevented me from having much access to watching an absolutely dreadful season of Mariners baseball.
But every once in a while I do catch myself missing one element of a cable subscription, and that is the ability to randomly surf channels, aimlessly popping into a variety of shows and movies over the course of an hour. There’s something so committing about picking just one show on your normal streaming subscription right? Who knows what other options there might have been!
Pluto TV launched in 2014, under the premise that we should all have access to streaming content in one location. Starting small with YouTube producers and other free content providers, Pluto TV has started to branch out to several other streaming video content providers, most recently Hulu.
What I found was an amazingly addicting app, offering quick access to a variety of content. The thing I immediately fell most in love with was the scrolling channel guide, which made me feel like I had countless options of content to choose from. Sure, we’re not talking HBO and Showtime-level quality across the board here, but there is easily enough available that I could fill up a night surfing through the variety of videos available.
The Hulu integration is a clear win for Pluto TV. The relationship certainly seems mutually beneficial, as Hulu gets to serve their ads on a third party platform and Pluto TV gets access to a fairly large content library that they can offer their users. This to me is one of the biggest difference-makers from earlier iterations of Pluto.
And this is why I believe Pluto TV has even more potential. There is a major opportunity for centralized streaming hubs that offer access to a wider variety of standalone apps that quickly give users the ability to flip between all available content. While certainly nothing more than a minor annoyance, the congruent feeling of a standard cable subscription is not yet matched by segmented streaming apps. There is a huge opportunity to band all of these services, or at least the ones willing to play nice, into one centralized location. Pluto TV has started to do that with some of the smaller content producers, but now with the Hulu deal, quickly legitimizing their service among some household names.
But of course things aren’t perfect yet.
Using Chromecast is still pretty buggy, especially with the free Hulu content (not sure if it’s actually being blocked or not). Other shows started streaming right away which was nice, but initially during the first working casts, I had to watch a rather long introductory video to Pluto TV’s service, which while this might be helpful for some unfamiliar with the service, was more of an annoyance for me.
It also isn’t easy to cast anytime you switch content streams, meaning I had to disconnect and reconnect anytime I wanted to surf through content and then send it to my TV from my laptop. In other words, keep your streaming device handy.
And just to reiterate, you’re not going to get access to all the best and most poplar television series on Pluto TV, at least not yet. But for those with short attention spans or commitment issues, there’s something really enjoyable about quickly flipping through hundreds of “channels” with this service.
As far as technology, Pluto TV is available as a desktop app, a mobile app on Apple and Android devices and of course straight from the browser. They each have their own merits, but we found the browser app to be the easiest to use, making the desktop app feel a bit redundant. The mobile app is great, tested on an iPhone 6, with smooth streams and a high quality user interface making it really simple to flip through shows on a smaller screen.
We’re excited about what Pluto TV has in store, as they have certainly made a fun and fascinating product. If they can keep expanding their offerings it doesn’t seem like a stretch that they’ll be ready to compete with the biggest players in the SVOD industry here soon enough.