Berlinale: Pluto TV’s focus on “long-form, niche content” will take on Netflix

Pluto TV’s managing director for Europe, Olivier Jollet, has said that the business will take on the likes of Netflix and Amazon by serving niche audiences and focusing on long-form content made for linear television, during Berlinale’s Drama Series Days event.

Jollet expanded on why Viacom boss Bob Bakish has said that its $340m acquisition of Pluto TV will be a “game changer” in the OTT space.

He said that one of the company’s USP’s will be serving niche audiences that have been previously under-served by traditional television and, increasingly, Netflix and Amazon.

“On Netflix and Amazon it’s only original content. If you look to find a good art-house movie, you probably need to click 20 times,” said Jollet. “It used to be a little bit different a few years ago but now it’s only original content, and blockbusters in the case of Prime, which means that there is an audience that is looking for something else.”

Pluto TV will set up channels where viewers can consume a certain genre 24 hours a day, including comedy, art-house, drama and a recently launched channel for Westerns, according to the exec.

The move is intended to make it easier for viewers to discover content and create a lean-back atmosphere.

Additionally, in a world where media companies are increasingly playing with the formatting of episodes, often making them shorter, Jollet says Pluto TV will focus on long-form content intended to keep viewers on screen.

“The biggest thing when running an ad-supported business is to keep the users in the platform,” said Jollet. “It’s a bit different with SVOD where you’ve already got the cash. [With AVOD] you need to run ads to make money and pay the licenses so the more they stay the better it is.”

The exec explained that it will vary its strategy between its app and linear TV service, focusing on short-form on the app and in some cases repacking short-form to make it longer on its linear service, where long-form will be prevalent. He said the service will run an average of eight-minutes per hour on its linear platform.

“The overall aim is to get users in the living room, that’s where we can really work on better stickiness with the users, it’s also where it’s easier to sell ads,” he said.

An expanding business

Jollet said Pluto TV is working on expanding its business, which this week launched an indie channel in the UK and will soon look for a home in Austria as well. Its European home is Berlin, Germany.

The aim is to take the business global and “create a new TV landscape” according to the exec.

“I remember when we launched three years ago and going to licensees for an ad-supported business everybody was closing the door,” he said.

“Nobody wanted to work with an ad-supported model, everyone said ‘I want to sell my rights to TV’ or ‘I want to sell to an SVOD platform’, so things are changing, people are starting to realise you can actually draw a lot of money from an ad-supported business.”