How did you feel the last time you paid your cable bill? If you’re like most people, you’re tired of paying $200 a month to watch a few channels.
Even if you don’t have cable, you may think you need an expensive live TV streaming service to get your favorite shows. Fortunately, the Pluto TV app is a fantastic solution that lets you stream TV for free.
In this Pluto TV review, we reveal the results of our testing of the free service and share if it’s a good choice for cord-cutters.
Table of Contents
What Is Pluto TV?
Pluto TV is a video streaming service that carries over 200 popular channels, including some live TV options. Think of it as an alternative to Netflix combined with dozens of live TV channels.
There is no monthly subscription fee, and no credit card is required. Like other free streaming apps, Pluto makes money via ads. If you don’t mind ad-supported content, the app is a good way to get free cable TV.
The TV app carries content from the ViacomCBS family of networks. It also has popular TV shows from networks like NBC and CNN.
As of the end of 2022, more than 75 million people use the platform, making it the largest free TV streaming service in America. It’s second only to YouTube if you want to stream for free.
How Can You Watch Pluto TV?
The Pluto app is accessible in a variety of ways. It’s available via a web browser, so you can watch it on a computer or device. Pluto TV also has apps that work on your smart TV or streaming device.
You can create a free account on Pluto, but it’s not required to watch content on the platform. This differs from other free TV sites that force you to create an account to stream movies and TV shows online.
What Can You Stream on Pluto?
Pluto TV is one of the best streaming services in the free ad-supported space. It has over 200 channels of content.
These aren’t the user-generated funny cat videos you’ll find on YouTube. It is legitimate content, and most anyone will find something they can enjoy.
There is a wide variety of content available on Pluto, especially for lifestyle and entertainment fans. Here are some of the TV channels you can find on the service:
One thing to keep in mind is that not all channels carry the full network on Pluto. For example, some of the shows might be several years old. However, that’s not the case for all the channels.
If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead, the streaming service added the first five seasons of the show in mid-2020.
Furthermore, Pluto occasionally airs past seasons of Yellowstone, so watch out for other opportunities to catch up on the Taylor Sheridan-produced hit.
If you like older TV shows, you’ll probably find something you’ll enjoy watching.
Do you like to watch sports? Pluto TV has some options for you to scratch your itch.
*Related: Love the NFL, but want to ditch cable? Check out our guide on the best options to watch NFL games live without cable.*
Here are some of the sports channels available:
- Fox Sports
- CBS Sports HQ
- NFL Channel (not the NFL Network)
- PGA Tour Rewind
Most of the content includes highlights or talk shows. There are some live sporting events, such as Division II football games, but it won’t replace ESPN.
Read our guide on how to watch ESPN without a TV provider to identify your top choices to stream the sports giant.
There are a wide variety of news channels available on the streaming platform. Here are some of the news channels you can expect to get on Pluto:
- Bloomberg TV
- Cheddar News
- NewsMax TV
- Sky News
- Top Stories by Newsy
Like the sports and entertainment channels, most of the news networks aren’t streaming live. Some, like CBSN, are the 24-hour news channel.
It’s important to note that CNN and others are often content that was recorded hours earlier. The content is often curated, so you won’t get breaking news.
*Related: Do you want to cancel cable but don’t know which streaming service to choose? Try our free quiz to see which platform will best fit your needs.*
Think of them as offering snippets of news telecasts that provide a high-level overview of what’s happening in the world.
If you want access to local news, an over-the-air antenna will be your best choice. We use the Mohu Leaf line in our home and like it.
You can use the code FRUGALRULES10 to receive ten percent off the purchase of a Mohu Leaf for your home.
In addition to live TV programming, Pluto TV has a large library of popular movies. These aren’t recent blockbusters, but we’ve often found free movies we can’t watch elsewhere.
Current on-demand movies include:
- Four Brothers
- Diary of a Mad Black Woman
- Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
- The Big Short
- Last Holiday
- Dr. No
- The Fighting Temptations
The platform has thousands of on-demand free movies to watch. Titles range from family-friendly content to edge-of-your-seat thrillers.
You’ll likely find something enjoyable to entertain yourself on a weekend evening.
On-Demand TV Shows
Pluto also has numerous on-demand television shows you can watch at your leisure. These aren’t current series but fan favorites of the past.
Current on-demand offerings include:
- Three’s Company
- Walker Texas Ranger
- The Steve Harvey Show
- Duck Dynasty
- The Walking Dead
- American Pickers
There are over several hundred shows to choose from and watch when you want, including some original content.
Is Pluto TV Actually Free?
There is no subscription fee to use the Pluto TV app. The free streaming service requires no credit card or membership to stream TV shows or movies.
If you want added features, you can create an account. This allows you to designate favorite channels and resume watching a program or movie on a different device.
However, if all you want to do is watch Pluto TV, just go to its website or launch its app. Nothing else is necessary to use the free service.
Platform and User Experience
While a bit basic, the platform will remind you a lot of a common cable TV interface. It is a little clunky for new users, but it’s relatively easy to surf and find something to watch.
When you launch the site, it takes you to a grid-like menu you might be familiar with from cable. On the left side of the screen, it has the genre listed.
You can click on one you want to find Pluto TV channels for the given niche.
When you click on a show to watch, it brings it to the top of the screen and minimizes the guide.
There aren’t many bells and whistles, but the user interface is simple to navigate and find something to watch.
All you need to watch is a smart TV, smartphone, computer, or tablet, and an internet connection to stream for free.
Read our guide on how to get internet without cable if your cable company is holding you hostage with expensive internet service.
The video quality is good for free TV streaming sites, at 720p. When we tested Pluto TV, we experienced no interruptions, pixilation, or outages. Just download the free app, install it, and start watching.
Features are an important piece of the puzzle when you choose a service to replace cable TV. Although it’s free to use, there are some features worth noting.
There’s a good chance you already own something on which you can watch Pluto TV since it has a large list of compatible devices. Ways to stream include:
- Internet browsers like Safari, Firefox, or Chrome on your computer
- Smartphones (both iPhone and Android have free Pluto TV apps)
- Apple TV
- Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick
- PlayStation 5
- Smart TV (Samsung, Sony, Vizio, and more are supported)
We’ve watched on our smartphones, TVs, and laptops and had an excellent experience on all devices. The menu and guide are the same, and the viewing experience is crystal clear.
Essentially, if the streaming device has a screen, you can use it to watch popular movies and TV series.
How Many Simultaneous Streams Does Pluto TV Offer?
Simultaneous streams are unimportant for Pluto. Anyone can watch TV online on the app, even if they don’t have an account.
We tested the app on three screens at once without issue. If you have a large family and all want to simultaneously stream different things on Pluto TV, you should not have a problem.
Creating parental controls is important if you have young children and want to prevent them from viewing inappropriate content.
You can establish controls on Pluto TV, but this will require an account. To create parental restrictions, go to the Profile icon on the website.
Select the Kids Mode tab, then choose from the given restriction levels. The app will prompt you to enter your password to finalize the feature.
Remember that you don’t need an account to use Pluto TV. It’s best to monitor your child’s viewing habits to ensure they’re not evading your parental controls by opening a new window and watching what they want.
Setting up closed captions is painless to do within Pluto’s web interface or app. They are available on most of the platform’s content.
You will need an account to access them. Go to the CC tab, then select the ability to turn on closed captions.
From there, you can customize the font size and background. Closed captions should work across both live channels and anything from the service’s content library.
Recommended Internet Speeds
The Pluto TV app doesn’t offer premium video quality, so speed requirements are minimal.
A speed of at least three Mbps is recommended to stream content. If you want optimal performance, they suggest a speed of at least seven Mbps.
Read our guide on internet speed for streaming to see how this compares to other platforms.
Does Pluto Offer Live TV?
Yes, there is free live TV with the streaming service. The live content varies from channel to channel, so not all channels are live. Just know that before assuming your favorite networks are live on the app.
Pluto TV also doesn’t offer local channels, so you will need an antenna to get your local networks.
In fact, an antenna is your best choice to get free TV shows from ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and PBS without using live TV streaming services.
*Related: Read our guide on the best services to watch ABC live without a contract to get your favorite network shows.
How Bad Are the Ads on Pluto?
Watching TV shows and movies on Pluto TV is similar to watching content on a streaming service or cable provider. The number of commercial breaks and the time of the ads will be the same.
On an hour-long episode, you can expect to get 45 minutes of content, with ads approximately every 15 minutes. This is fairly standard for live TV programming.
The on-demand and non-live channels can get more heavy-handed on commercials. Expect several more minutes of commercial time when watching an on-demand TV show or movie.
If you want ad-free content, it’s not on Pluto TV and is tough to get without a cost elsewhere.
How Does Pluto TV Make Money?
Pluto makes money by showing commercials when viewers watch video content. The service is owned by ViacomCBS, which offers it for free.
You can expect to see more commercials than you might find on other services, but you get to watch movies for free, so it’s hard to complain.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Pluto TV?
Free isn’t always good, so it’s important to remember that. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering the streaming platform.
- Free to use
- No registration is required
- Offers free TV shows and movies
- Great selection of on-demand content
- Has some reality TV shows and original programming
- Cable-like experience
- Limited number of new episodes
- No DVR on live TV streams
- Some of the news content may not be current
No service is perfect, but there is a lot to like about this free streaming platform.
How Does Pluto Compare to Other Free Streaming Services?
If you want to cut the cord on cable TV or satellite, free streaming sites can be good resources. They let you watch movies and TV shows for free. You might even get some live TV.
Pluto TV is one of the top free services to use. It has thousands of shows and movies. The platform also has over 200 free live TV channels.
It’s not the standard of quality you might find on Amazon Prime Video or Max, but it has a lot to offer. Here is how Pluto compares to similar platforms.
Read our guide on the best free streaming services to learn more.
Tubi TV is likely the top alternative to consider when looking for a free service. Read our review of Tubi to learn more.
Pluto TV Review
Ease of Use
Pluto TV Review
Get over 200 channels of content from reputable networks plus some live sport, all for free and with no contract.
✔️ Absolutely free
✔️ Over 200 channels of content
✔️ Has some live sports
✔️ Does not require an account
✔️ Good selection of on-demand movies
❌ Has lots of ads
❌ Not a lot of advanced features
❌ Interface is a bit clunky to use
Is Pluto TV Any Good?
Free ad-supported streaming services like Pluto TV make it much easier to reduce your entertainment costs. While you won’t find recent hits, it’s a good way to watch popular TV shows and movies from previous years.
If you don’t mind commercials, the no-cost TV service is a must-try.
What’s one thing that keeps you from cutting the cord on cable?
I’m Nicole Schmoll – a master’s-educated professional writer, mompreneur, and co-founder of Frugal Rules.
As a freelance copywriter in Omaha, I still believe that writing is an artistic expression. Every time I strike the keys, I intend to evoke a response from my listeners. I left my full-time career as a senior copywriter for an insurance agency to start my own freelance writing business.
I love watching and writing about TV (and how to stream it!)