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Volume 25 No. 236
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MLS Launching New Channel On Streaming Service Pluto TV

MLS will not create any exclusive or new additional content specifically for the platform

MLS is launching a 24-hour league-specific channel on Pluto TV, the free streaming service that was acquired by Viacom earlier this year. The channel, which is expected to launch this week and will be simply titled MLS, will be populated with content that MLS already produces or owns. That includes replays of classic games, talk shows and long-form content such as its "ExtraTime" podcast or long-form documentary series "The Movement" that currently are shared on YouTube, or highlights and condensed games from the previous week. MLS Senior VP/Media Chris Schlosser said the league will receive a rights fee from the deal but declined to comment further. MLS will not be creating any exclusive or new additional content specifically for the platform, nor will it have to hire any additional staff to produce the channel, so there will be limited costs associated with its launch, Schlosser said. All content airing on the Pluto TV channel was already owned or created directly by the league, and it did not need to pay any fees to re-acquire it. MLS does not have any plans to have any live programming on the channel, Schlosser said. “Since we don’t have a 24/7 linear network, we think this is a great opportunity for us to experiment and learn about how our fans like to consume our content,” he said. “Fans really haven’t had the chance to sit back on the couch and just have longer-form MLS content come to them, so we’re excited to try that out.” MLS will be the first league to have an offering on Pluto TV.

PICKING YOUR AUDIENCE: Pluto TV Senior VP/Content Partnerships Amy Kuessner said while the platform will not be in the market for live sports, it believes its audience -- which skews younger than linear television -- lends itself well to MLS and soccer. “We’ve wanted to expand our sports offerings for quite some time, so to do it with a league that is also very targeted to a millennial audience is very exciting,” she said. Pluto TV is in talks with several other properties including all of the major sports leagues regarding launching their own channels on the platform, Kuessner said. She added the platform expects to announce additional sports partners, specifically those in some of the more niche sports like golf, in the coming weeks. Kuessner declined to comment on the terms of its deal with MLS, but said that all of the platform’s deals are done on an annual basis. The MLS channel will be only available to U.S. viewers of Pluto TV. However, with the platform looking to expand globally, that may change. Kuessner said Pluto TV is in conversations with MLS over also having its content appear on the offering for Latin American companies. Pluto TV is also expanding further into Europe, she said.