Unlike most streaming services, the on-demand content is a secondary focus. Pluto instead operates akin to a cable or satellite provider in that its primary offerings are linear channels. As such, advertisements are inserted into each channel's programming akin to commercial breaks seen on traditional networks.
Some of these channels are existing TV networks offered through Pluto, such as CBSN and Buzzr note . The other channels are operated by Pluto themselves, which has content deals to supply their channels with movies and shows from studios such as MGM, Sony Pictures, and Shout! Factory. Some channels are devoted to one show 24/7, such as Mystery Science Theater 3000, American Gladiators, and vintage Doctor Who, while Dash Radio powers a selection of audio-only music channels. Currently, over 200 channels are offered through apps on mobile devices, streaming devices, Playstation and consoles and PCs (though not all channels are available on all platforms for various reasons).
2019 saw ViacomCBS acquire the service in an attempt to catch up with the streaming age. Almost immediately after purchase, Viacom brought their brands, such as MTV and Nickelodeon, to the service, offering archive programming. Even the former Spike TV (which was relaunched as Paramount Network in 2018) was revived as two Pluto channels. The service is also slowly expanding internationally, having launched in the UK; with ViacomCBS's backing further expansion is planned. The service has also begun to be integrated into cable platforms, with Xfinity's X1 (and Cox's Contour, a rebrand of the X1 service) adding apps for the service. The beginning of 2020 saw further rollout of the service in worldwide markets, as well as a new logo and visual look (as seen above) and a new UI across all platforms. A major marketing campaign began to coincide with the rebrand, Pluto's first.
Much of the movie and TV content on Pluto TV, such as its MGM and Shout! Factory holdings, also appears on Tubi, another ad-supported streaming service. Shout! Factory also maintains its own free streaming platform in Shout! Factory TV.
As part of ViacomCBS' post-merger strategy, the company announced in February 2020 that Pluto TV content will be offered as part of the relaunched CBS All Access service.