What we’re obsessed with right now: Pluto TV

Pluto TV's channel guide, as seen on a television monitor.
(Courtesy photo)

Pluto, an entertainment service from ViacomCBS, offers a surprisingly wide range of television channels for free

San Diego Union-Tribune editors and writers share what they’re currently obsessing over.

What I’m obsessed with: Pluto TV, a free app that offers hundreds of channels. The service, which is watched by more than 50 million users every month, is owned and operated by ViacomCBS Streaming. It offers both Live TV and On Demand options — but the live option is where Pluto shines.

Why? As a millennial, I’m old enough to remember cable ... but young enough to not be able to afford it. And after years of using streaming services, I’m a little burnt out. The algorithms that once impressed me with their ease and accuracy have become annoying and limiting; I constantly find myself relying on Google to find new shows absent from my curated homepage. But Pluto is different: I can browse its a modern TV guide grouped by category, and flip through a random assortment of live entertainment without wondering how my viewing habits will influence my feed.

Wait, it’s really free? Yup, one hundred percent. You don’t even need to create an account to use the service, and there are no rental options. In a world full of log-ins and in-app purchases, it’s a welcome reprieve.

The official logo of Pluto TV.
(Courtesy photo)

The downside: I can’t deny Pluto has a few shortcomings. I often deal with (minor) technical issues, like glitches or long loading screens when I switch between channels. The biggest annoyance? Advertising. Unlike most streaming services, Pluto is full of of commercials and shows sometimes cut to ad breaks in the middle of a scene. However, I’ll pay that price for a free service.

READ MORE: Streaming services to watch once you’re tired of Netflix and Hulu

Something for everyone: Do you love James Bond movies? There’s a 007 channel for that. How about “Star Trek”? That has its own station, too. From “Degrassi” to “Deal or No Deal” to “Tiny House Nation,” there is no shortage of channels specifically dedicated to a single show or movie franchise. Sure, streaming services often give you the whole series to binge or cherry-pick ... but there’s something special about having to drop in on whatever episode is currently playing, with no option to pause, rewind or fast forward.

‘Tis the season: While I love Pluto year round, my current obsession stems from its holiday offerings that are grouped into a Season’s Greetings category. There’s not one, but two stations dedicated to crackling fireplaces to leave on your TV screen, plus another full of holiday light displays. And don’t get me started on their off-brand Hallmark channels — the predictable plots paired with an incredibly low budget, terrible CGI and D-list acting? Priceless entertainment for the holidays.

Hidden gem: One piece of advice: don’t sleep on Slow TV. The channel is dedicated to “All Aboard,” a program that solely plays footage from a vehicle (usually a train) traversing through a picturesque landscape (usually the European countryside). Basically, it’s like taking a free trip through some of the most beautiful parts of the world. If watching terrain from a train’s POV sounds boring, give it a few minutes ... and I guarantee you’ll come aboard.

OK, I know that was cheesy, but so is Pluto — and that’s the true beauty of this app.

Watch Pluto TV on streaming devices, smart televisions, on the internet, or through its mobile and desktop applications. Learn more at