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The genius of Pluto.TV

This is real internet television

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So I read about Pluto.TV in a physical copy of Details, which makes it the only website I have ever visited because of Details, and that would seem like a bad sign. However, it's actually fantastic.

The video site launched a few months ago and got major mainstream coverage — New York Times, USA Today — but other than a spike of articles about the Cats 24/7 channel, the internet news world has ignored it.

That must be because the internet news world doesn't realize that in addition to the Cats 24/7 channel, Pluto.TV features the Sharks 24/7 channel, Guns & Explosions channel, and Happy channel, which loops Pharrell's "Happy" video.

There is a channel devoted to weed culture and a channel for Grand Theft Auto gameplay, a channel of all GoPro videos and a channel of nothing but Weird Al. There is a Heart Warming channel where shows have names like "Friendship, Puppies, and Dreams Coming True." Right now there is a Robin Williams channel, spun up in the wake of his death.

Pluto.TV gave The Verge permission to embed one channel. This is Top Web Tracks. It streams the most popular music videos from YouTube and Billboard's "Trending 140" Twitter chart.

The content mostly streams from YouTube, and you can fast forward and rewind, but only within the current block of programming. You can "record" future programming blocks just like a DVR, but there's no skipping ahead. Like Reddit.TV, which streams videos from the social sharing site one after the other, the limitations give the experience structure. And if you're feeling indecisive, the "random" button will pick a channel for you.

I don't know what the business model for Pluto.TV is, and for now, I don't care. It's free and the only ads it shows — other than the GoPro channel which are almost all ads, and the "Best TV Commercials" channel, and QVC — are short title screens advertising Pluto.TV. I hope that this website continues to exist and the channels get weirder and more niche. These are my favorites right now.

  1. Slow TV

    Slow TV

    Right now, the Slow TV channel is showing a feed of a palm tree on a white sand beach. This will go on for three hours. Up next is an image of a slowly spinning Earth taken from a satellite, which goes until 9PM. Yesterday, it was the view from the front of a train. I love this channel.

  2. Ultra HD

    Ultra HD

    Car reviews. Inhumanly crisp shots of nature. Sweat flying off the chest of an MMA fighter. Something called "Crystal Clear Waters" that sounds like it might be stock footage. Ridley Scott’s 4K film "Loom." This is high def for the sake of high def.

  3. Yoga & Meditation

    Yoga & Meditation

    I have a friend who teaches yoga over Skype to a student in another state. Her student must not know about this channel. If you’re a beginner to mid-level yogi, it can be difficult to practice alone. Tune in and have a YouTuber lead you through a lesson at any time of day.

  4. R. Kelly's TRAPPED

    R. Kelly's TRAPPED

    R. Kelly’s 33-episode "hip-hopera" "Trapped in the Closet" is a cult classic, and there actually is no better way to consume it than to tune in at a random point somewhere in the middle and just roll from there. I have no idea why Pluto.TV has dedicated a channel to this or whether it will be for a limited time only. It would be neat to combine this into a channel of feature-length music videos, including things like Kanye West's 34-minute "Runaway," but I could also see an argument for a dedicated "Trapped in the Closet" channel forever.

  5. Sharks 24/7

    Sharks 24/7

    You would think every week on the Sharks 24/7 channel would be Shark Week, but actually it was August 11th to 17th.

  6. Steve Aoki

    Steve Aoki

    I was only vaguely aware of the extremely energetic house DJ Steve Aoki, and his channel looks like just a promotional thing for his new album. However, segments like "Main Stage Aoki," "On The Road with Steve Aoki," and "Steve Aoki Hangs Out," are the most authentic immersion into the EDM scene you could ask for without getting your hands dirty. This channel can be a little hit or miss, as you might get stuck watching a throng of white people jump vertically up and down in front of the stage for three hours, but some videos are gold, as when Aoki wanders dazedly through a hotel party dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and sombrero, channeling Raoul Duke.

  7. Headline News

    Headline News

    Pluto.TV offers Top Viral Videos, a stream of the classics, and Trending Now, a stream of the videos that are rising on Twitter, Facebook, and other networks. But Headline News is, I think, the most unique and most useful, especially when it supplements the breaking news you just read about on Twitter.

  8. Dance World

    Dance World

    Right now I am watching "The Mesmerizing Moves of World Order," one of Japan’s top dance crews. Previously was "Top 40 Choreography," coming up are "Krump or Die" and "Highlights: Dance Moms." And then, a compilation of "Ballet Videos that Crush The Rest." This channel will pump you up.

  9. 4:20


    This was a surprise hit. I’m not into weed, or weed culture particularly, but I am now a fan of "Getting Doug with High," a show where Doug Benson smokes with celebrities like Jenny Slate and Dominic Monaghan. I am also a fan of random claymation movies and segments like "Animals Through a Wide Angle Lens," exactly what it sounds like.