My5, Channel 5's free streaming service, is about to get a big boost and a new name. The service, which is owned by Paramount, is going to be merged with the online Pluto TV service next year in what Paramount says is a "sizeable" technology investment.
Paramount bought Channel 5 a decade ago, and My5 – which launched in 2008 – has been a slow burning success, increasing its UK TV market share every year for the last four years. The new streaming service will hope to accelerate that by offering a mix of exclusive and archived content from Channel 5 as well as on-demand channels and shows from Pluto.
Pluto already streams some content from Channel 5 and My5 streams some Paramount content, but the merger will combine the two offerings into one. According to Paramount, the new service will also include content from other providers.
Like other recently launched channels this new service will be a FAST (Free, Ad-Supported TV) channel that'll be free to watch. Paramount hasn't announced its name or planned launch date yet; those details will be revealed in 2024.
Will My5 become less fun in its new incarnation?
That's unlikely, because Channel 5 is a public service broadcaster. That means its licence is dependent on providing certain kinds of content and on commissioning content from particular countries. It also limits how many repeats the channel is allowed to broadcast.
While those restrictions apply to broadcast rather than online, Paramount isn't going to start running two different versions of Channel 5 for broadcast and online. Paramount says that it's keen to keep Channel 5's current identity, telling the Financial Times that "Paramount+ and Channel 5 sit very comfortably together the same way CBS and Paramount+ sit in the US.”
Another benefit to Paramount from the move is that combining Pluto with My5 will enable it to use more attractive channels on Freeview Play. As RXTVinfo reports, the channels in the 300-600 range on the electronic programme guide are reserved for the main broadcasters and so far only the BBC is using them. The new Paramount service is likely to appear there too.
The move is separate from Channel 5's involvement with Freely, the ad-supported free TV service launching in the UK next year. That too will feature content from Channel 5, along with programming from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.