Paramount is merging Channel 5’s broadcast video-on-demand (BVOD) service My5 with Pluto TV.
The brand name for the combined streaming service will not be announced until early next year, with a launch planned for the second half of 2024.
It is understood that the My5 brand will coexist with the new platform when it launches, as the new platform rolls out across a range of distribution platforms.
Paramount said the product will “leverage Pluto TV’s best-in-class technology platform” and combine BVOD, free ad-supported TV (FAST), AVOD and live TV with the same service.
Maria Kyriacou, President, Broadcast & Studios, Paramount International Markets, said: “As we look ahead to an IP-delivered future, this is the right time for us to fully leverage the Paramount ecosystem and combine the reach and scale of our free-to-air network in the UK with the global success of our FAST service Pluto TV. ”
Paramount’s announcement today included selective testimonials about the success of Channel 5 and My5.
“Channel 5 has grown its share of the UK television audience over the last four years consecutively, and its BVOD service My5 has grown its viewing over the last three years consecutively…”
That’s a subtle difference in terms of time scale, which is significant at a time when TV audiences offline and online were massively impacted by the Covid pandemic because many people in the UK were stuck at home in 2020 and 2021.
While the exact numbers are hard to come by, Ofcom’s latest Media Nations report provides a clue as to why Paramount felt it had to give up on My5 as a standalone streaming service.
“…Channel 5 remains predominantly linear-based, with 96% of all its viewing going to its broadcast linear channels and 4% to its BVOD service, My5.”
According to Barb Audiences’ monthly viewing data, Channel 5’s total audience reach was just over 34 million in September.
And 4% of that would be just 1.36 million users.
Compare that to ITV’s ITVX, which launched a year ago and announced it had amassed 12.5 million monthly active users by June.
Pluto TV, meanwhile, is a relative pioneer of the quickly growing FAST sector and the most widely distributed service of its kind in the world. It has more than 2,000 channels globally and has deals with 425 content partners. Paramount said it has reached an annual revenue of more than $1bn.
My5’s future also becomes less tenable when you consider next year’s launch of Freely — a successor to Freeview and FreeSat for internet-connected TVs — and the Paramount’s priority to make its flagship global streaming service Paramount+ a success.