Is Pluto TV Free and Legal? We Answer This & More

Pluto TV App

The Coronavirus has caused not only a health pandemic but a financial one too.  People are reducing or eliminating their cable/satellite subscriptions because of the financial uncertainty with many looking for free streaming alternatives. If you are one of those people, Pluto TV needs serious consideration.  We want to answer two very popular questions among others, is Pluto TV free and legal?

Is Pluto TV Free?

Is Pluto TV free? It absolutely is. Unlike other streaming services, there aren’t any sign up, monthly or yearly fees.

How Does The Company Make Money?

The company is able to make money by selling advertising.  Within the streaming industry, this is sometimes referred to as AVOD (Advertising Supported Video on Demand).  As soon as you load the app, or go to the website on a desktop, your free content is playing. 

Pluto TV Has Commercials

Pluto TV is free to watch, but you will see commercials.  Some users have noted they have seen more commercials than traditional TV and they sometimes come on when you least expect them. With 1 hour of content, expect approximately 8 commercials. The commercial intrusion is a small price to pay, if you are cutting back on expenses.

Is Pluto TV Legal?

Is Pluto TV legal? It, unequivocally is 100% legal. Pluto TV was launched in 2014 and now has 20 million users. As a result of it’s success, ViacomCBS purchased it for $340 million in January, 2019. ViacomCBS also owns well known brands such as CBS, MTV, CMT, Comedy Central, Showtime, The CW and VH1. ViacomCBS would never buy a company that isn’t legal.

What Channels Are Available On Pluto TV

Pluto TV has over 75 channels organized under 10 categories and thousands of movies on-demand. See chart below of available channels.


Available Live TV Categories

The categories make it easier to find content. Here are the categories, in alphabetical order:

  1. Chill Out
  2. Comedy
  3. Curiosity
  4. Entertainment
  5. Geek + Gaming
  6. Life + Style
  7. Movies
  8. Music + Radio
  9. News
  10. Sports

Content Mix

The content mix includes traditional networks, a few cable channels and new brands you typically find online. 

News Category

Under the news category, you will find popular content from the likes of NBC channel 232, CBSN channel 236, CNN channel 244, Bloomberg Television channel 262, TYT channel 272 and Blaze Live on channel 250.  Except for CBSN, which offers live programming, most of the content on the news channels will be older or a mash up of previous news.  For instance, if you go to the CNN channel on the app or the web browser, you won’t see CNN live. 

Sports Category

The sports lineup of channels includes popular networks like Fox Sports channel 461, NFL Channel on 465, PGA Tour channel 477, Major League Soccer channel 481 and beIN Sports XTRA on 486. 

Like news, you won’t find live programming.  Instead, you will find content offering highlights, analysis or even full matches of older games. 

If you are disappointed, understand these networks are not going to charge consumers for content on one platform like Hulu + Live TV or YouTube TV and offer the same content for free on Pluto TV.

Entertainment Category

Entertainment channels includes MTV Pluto channel 111, ET Live on 120, BET 126, Spike on 130 and CMT on 148. 

With the variety of programs and networks available on Pluto TV, it’s clear they are trying to capture a broad demographic.

Does Pluto TV Have Local Channels?

Pluto TV doesn’t carry local channels. If you want local channels, purchase a good long range HDTV antenna here.

Channel Guide

When you open the app or browser, you don’t have to search for movies as it opens with live TV.  The channel guide is like a traditional cable/satellite interface.  You can see what is playing right now but you can also see what’s next in the channel lineup.  However, unlike a traditional cable/satellite guide, you can’t scroll hours or days ahead to see future programming.  Pluto TV only allows you to see the next scheduled show. 

Ways To Watch

If you have access to Wi-Fi you can watch all the free content you can handle on desktops, tablets, smartphones, set top boxes and smart TV’s.     

Desktop Experience

For those who want to watch Pluto TV on their desktop, there is a Window’s app here. To change the channels, you can click directly on any channel in the channel guide. You can also scroll with your mouse or use the arrows on your keyboard to change channels.

Mobile Experience

There is a downloadable app for either Android or Apple devices. To change the channel, click directly on the channel in the guide or tap anywhere on the screen to bring up the channel options. 

Smart TV

Many of the smart TV’s have the Pluto TV app installed. They include Vizio, Samsung, Roku, Hisense and Amazon FireTV. You can also use the included remotes to operate Pluto TV.

Streaming Devices

Pluto TV is available for download on some of the more popular streaming devices including Amazon FireStick, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xfinity, Xbox One and Playstation.

No Cloud DVR

You cannot record with Pluto TV and you can’t pause live TV.  However, if you watch one of the on-demand movies, you can pause it.  You can advance the movie or go back but you will still be subject to commercials before the content resumes.  If you want to watch a show and know what time it starts, it’s best to go to the app at the designated time to watch.

Creating An Account Is Optional

Unlike other platforms, Pluto TV doesn’t require an account to watch the shows. However, if you want to create an account, you can.  Creating and activating an account, allows you to do several things. You can use your smartphone as a remote control, edit the channel line up/save your favorite channels and resume watching content from on-demand movies.


Currently, you can only activate on the following devices.

  1. Roku Devices
  2. Sony PS4
  3. Amazon Fire TV
  4. Android TV

If you have one of the above devices, you can activate them by doing the following:

  • Visit Channel 02 on the guide or click Activate -on the left side of the guide
  • Copy the 6 digit code displayed at the top of the screen
  • Depending on your account, there are 2 ways to enter the code 
    • Logged in: click MyPluto on your phone > activate > enter digit code
    • Logged out / No account: Visit My.Pluto.Tv/activate and follow the steps.

Hide/Favorite Channels

As of this writing, Pluto TV’s Hide/Favorite feature is unavailable on most platforms. They will post an update once the feature returns.

When the Hide/Favorite channels feature returns, here are the steps for mobile, devices or desktop:

  1. Click the My Pluto Icon/Link usually located at screen/page bottom
  2. Click on the Edit Channels section 
  3. Click the open Eye icon to Hide a channel 
  4. Click the Heart icon to Favorite a channel
Pluto TV Hide/Favorite Channels
Pluto TV Hide/Favorite Channels

To reverse your actions, click the icons again.

Mobile Push Notifications

Activating your account, will allow push notifications to your smartphone. The notifications are content the app thinks you may find enjoyable. However, some users will find intrusion annoying. To disable this feature, follow the steps below:

Android Push Notifications

  1. Open Android System Settings 
  2. Select App/Notifications
  3. Tap on the Pluto TV app
  4. Under Notifications, Uncheck or Slide Off

IOS Push Notifications

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap Notifications 
  3. Scroll down to Pluto TV app -Tap
  4. Adjust the Notification type(s)

Channels To Watch

Even though Pluto TV is free, it has some gems we think you should check out.

For younger viewers, there is Death Note and Bleach on Anime All Day on CH 322.

For mature audiences, we love Cops on CH 308. It’s all day, everyday action.

For sports fans, we recommend Bigsky Conference basketball on 530, Impact wrestling on 515, Glory kickboxing on 513 and RedBull TV on 501. 

Bottom Line

Pluto TV doesn’t have any local channels, however, it is a very good option for people already using an HDTV antenna.  Depending where you live in the USA, a good antenna will provide 10-100+ free channels. 

Adding Pluto TV augments whatever number of local channels you currently have with 75+ of additional networks, for free. It provides a robust alternative to the subscription services. We think it’s worth a try, while it’s still free.

Leon Thomas

Do you have Pluto TV? Are you happy with the service? Are there some channels you wished they carried? Would you recommend it? Let us know in the comments below.

Additional Resources

Purchase the best outdoor antenna, here.

Read The 4 Things Cable Companies Don’t Want You To Know About TV Antennas here.

Read How to Watch TV Without Cable or Satellite here. 


This Post Has One Comment

  1. Michael E. Lombardi


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