Vizio taps Pluto TV for WatchFree, a cable-like aggregator of free streaming channels

Vizio's WatchFree offers hundreds of free ad-supported streaming channels. (Vizio)

Vizio is partnering with Pluto TV so it can offer WatchFree, a cable television-like aggregator that offers multiple free streaming channels in a traditional channel grid guide.

WatchFree will be available on most Vizio smart TVs and will offer direct streaming access to more than 100 live and linear channels. Channels include Pluto TV Movies, Action Movies, Black Cinema, News 24/7, NBC News/MSNBC, Fox Sports, Frontdoor, Cats 24/7, Crime Network, MST3K and The Surf Channel. Pluto TV will launch two new pop-up channels also available on WatchFree, featuring Gordon Ramsay's “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Unsolved Mysteries.”

Vizio said WatchFree will be available through a dedicated input.

"With the TV landscape continuously evolving, we're excited to offer consumers a comprehensive entertainment solution packed with free and unlimited content offerings." said Bill Baxter, chief technology officer, Vizio. "Powered by Pluto TV, WatchFree is a next-generation streaming service with an easy-to-navigate, cable-like interface that delivers creative and thoughtful content selections."

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Pluto TV’s strategy of compiling and packaging together free linear channels runs up against prevailing trends set by virtual MVPDs like DirecTV Now and Sling TV that charge monthly subscription fees for access to channels found within traditional cable bundles.

But Jeff Shultz, chief business officer for Pluto TV, said in June that his company has more users than all the vMVPDs combined.