Pluto TV is the biggest name in the AVOD space and deservedly so. It has grown leaps and bounds since it launched a collection of curated YouTube videos. It has built a gigantic channel listing and a very large video-on-demand section. It updated its categories this week and recently added a watchlist option. But Pluto TV is not a start-up anymore and while people always say content is king, content discovery is Prime Minister. In this Analogy content alone is like a crown without an actual government behind it. Pluto TV is user-centric without being user friendly but it could fix this with a few changes.
You can’t find anything specific
First of all, it is missing a very important tool that all of the rest of the organization still can’t make up for. It’s long since time that Pluto TV integrated a search feature. Its TV show and movie library is far too big to explore by clicking through numerous categories and scrolling right. There are 91 categories now. Pluto TV is searchable. Roku’s universal search returns listing from the service. But the fact that you can not run across Halem Nights in-app and then search for other Eddie Murphy movies on Pluto has gotten cumbersome. I have seen a number of movies on its live feed and thought oh is that in the on-demand section. But then you don’t know where to start. Is the movie a cult movie? Is it an 80’s move, is it a comedy?
Not being searchable outside the never-ending rows of content means that people can get lost shuffling and betrays the lean-back experience it strives to provide. Without a way to zero in a bit, you might also surmise that the point of the on-demand section being set up like it is, is in order to keep people in the app looking around rather than provide entertainment.
Allow users to explore the grid
Pluto TV knows what will be playing more than 3 hours ahead of time. Why don’t the viewers? Pluto TV was started to give streaming viewers an old fashioned cable TV feel. But you can use the TV guide to find out what was going to be on TV next week or later today. It allows you to plan.
Pluto TV has a member sign in. You can choose to sign in with an email address. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get updates when something you want to see is coming on? This would of course be related with the ability to look ahead. Users should be able to check out a grid, look to when will be on a few days out and choose a show to come back to. Cable has on-screen reminders or even can switch automatically to a channel when a show or movie is about to start.
Pluto TV is almost there. Its approach was once unconventional. But now that it has broken all of the new ground and helped create an entire genre of streaming apps, it’s time to look inside the box at how Netflix and even pay-TV services hold on to paying customers.