They have been slow to arrive but at last the gap in streaming is being filled with free content services. And we are not referring to YouTube, Vimeo and the like, but to content as such, extracted from DTT or other sources and made available to users via the Internet. The incumbents, Pluto TV and Tivify. The newcomer, DistroTV.
So it is a good time to see how all of them behave because although this is not a competition, and everyone can live together on our mobiles, tablets or smart TVs, we may want to lean towards one or the other depending on what it offers us. Let’s see how each of them behaves.
Very similar apps and grills
We are facing three apps whose main function is to offer us live content, and all three have opted for similar concepts when introducing us to the channels. In all three options we have the classic vertical content grid, being able to see what is being broadcast on each of the channels and what is coming next.
In all three cases, categorization is also added, grouping the channels by themes. This allows us to quickly go to groups of channels that share content. For example, in Tivify we find categories for general, entertainment or sports channels, and the same thing happens in the other two services. In DistroTV, the ‘In Spanish’ category will be especially important to find content in our language.
All three platforms are present in most mobile and television operating systems
Although we can go to the guide whenever we want to quickly jump between channels separated from each other, the three apps offer us integration with the channel selector of the TV remote control when going up and down the grid, thus accessing adjoining channels. The feeling when browsing is very similar to what we experience watching traditional DTT (which can also be seen on Tivify) so everything becomes much more familiar. We tread on familiar ground.
As for devices, the three apps are present for both mobile phones and tablets, either on Android or on iOS with apps for iPhone and iPad. If we look at smart TVs, we find apps for Android TV, Tizen and WebOS, thus covering a large part of the market. And if we couldn’t find an app compatible with our TV, we could always use Chromecast/Apple TV/Fire TV Stick to share the mobile channels with the TV. One more step, but we would still have the content on the television.
Let’s talk about the contents and philosophies of each service
The content of each of the services is the main difference between all of them. Not because of the content itself, but because of the philosophy of each one of them. Some opt for purely live content, as in the case of Tivify, and others go a step further and not only add deferred content but also offer us exclusive content.
Tivify, DTT via streaming with things
We start with Tivify, the most “basic” platform to call it somehow. In Tivify we find more than 80 channels that are purely live. Tivify becomes the best substitute for our DTT through the physical antenna as it compiles a good part of the channels whose broadcast is open. From regional to national channels, also including other channels such as AXN that are added to the content platforms of the operators in their most basic packages.
Tivify is a ‘vitaminized DTT’ that offers two optional payment plans
Although we enjoy fewer channels than in the other two options, with Tivify we do have two payment options that allow us to add extra channels and other functions. Recording terms are extended (from 60 hours to 350 hours) and the number of devices that can view content with the same account at the same time increases. The rest of the contents are free but we will need to register with an account to see them.
Pluto TV, direct and on demand with ‘invented’ channels
In the case of Pluto TV, here you do not need any account to access the contents. It is enough to install the app and we will be able to access everything in exchange for some advertisements from time to time. It is a format very similar to that of open DTT except that we have content on demand, such as series and movies that we can watch whenever we want, and we will not always have to depend on direct or our own recordings.
The special thing about Pluto TV lies in its thematic pop-up channels
In Pluto TV we also have something very curious such as pop up channels. Pluto TV takes advantage of its potential as a streaming service to bring channels out of nowhere whenever it suits them. We can see content from ‘Top Gear’ 24 hours a day, if we want, and it is enough to access its channel and not move from there. The same thing happens with some series that are hosted on channels that broadcast their chapters nonstop.
DistroTV, Spanish is growing slowly as well as its own content
Finally we have DistroTV, the newcomer. In this case we have an option very similar to Pluto TV with live channels and on-demand content, but in DistroTV we don’t have pop-up channels. All the content is open and comes from real channels but, and this is a big but being in Spain, practically everything is broadcast in the original version. That is, in English. We have a small group of channels in Spain oriented more towards Latin America, but today it is small.
DistroTV is adding its own content that we cannot see elsewhere
The big difference between DistroTV and the others, if we ignore the language, is that the platform operated by ViacomCBS commitment to exclusive content. In this sense, DistroTV begins to become a kind of Netflix or Disney + (two examples) and inside it we will find programs, series and movies that we will not be able to see elsewhere. We will see how it evolves because the bet seems interesting for the future.
Thus, at Tivify we have fewer channels, almost all belonging to DTT and with access to premium channels through a subscription that oscillates between two options: 3.99 euros/month and 7.99 euros/month, in addition to the option free. Pluto TV is completely free and on-demand content and the curiosity of thematic channels that emerged from nowhere are added to the package. DistroTV is mostly in English but in return we have our own content, so it is a good option to have it installed as well.
And you, which of the three do you prefer?