Skip to main content

Pluto TV pits human curation against streaming algorithms in new ad campaign

Pluto TV pits human curation against streaming algorithms in new ad campaign


Pluto TV thinks its human curators do a better job picking out what you want to watch.

Share this story

An image of the Pluto TV logo
Image: Pluto TV

Pluto TV wants you to know that not only does it offer free ad-supported streaming — but it’s curated by humans, too. The Paramount-owned service pushes back against the recommendation algorithm used by Netflix and other major streamers in a new ad campaign that insists humans do a better job of picking what you want to watch.

Each ad shows a person scrolling aimlessly through the “featured” section of a streaming service that appears to be modeled after Netflix. Suddenly, a human curator from Pluto TV appears in their home, with the goal of guiding them toward the free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) service as a solution to their indecisiveness.

It’s true: Netflix’s “For You” section doesn’t always get things right. I often find better recommendations when looking up listicles of the best shows to watch online. But one of the best parts about FAST is that you don’t really have to choose what you want to watch — you can just flip through a series of channels just like you would when watching cable TV.

And, as my colleague Alex Cranz points out, there’s no pressure to pay attention to what you’re watching, either, something you may normally do when tuning in to the latest season of Stranger Things or The White Lotus:

On Pluto, I watched three totally out of order episodes of Star Trek: Voyager and felt no anxiety. I wasn’t needing to track where I was in a rewatch or make sure I didn’t miss a scene or episode. The stakes were lower, and I was fine leaving it on while I vacuumed up more dog hair than I thought my dog was capable of shedding.

As streaming fatigue continues to drive cord-cutters away from traditional streaming services, FAST services exist as a balanced medium between streaming and cable. Pluto TV is highlighting that in its latest campaign — not only does it offer a range of curated content like cable or broadcast but it’s also completely free to use, with no annual price hikes.

In addition to the new ad campaign, Pluto TV also announced that it’s rolling out three new categories you can use to sort through content: drama, sci-fi, and true crime. With FAST services growing, well, fast, it’s entirely possible that curated programming is one of the reasons people are tuning in. Of course, it’s also the fact that these services are completely free at a time when it seems like every streaming service is laying out a price hike or password-sharing crackdown (or both).