The deal marks the first time that Narcos will be widely available to US streaming viewers without a Netflix subscription and for free. (The show was previously licensed to Univision through a linear deal.) All five seasons of the show (Narcos and Narcos: Mexico) will be available to stream as part of Pluto TV’s Crime Drama and Narco Novelas channel lineup, as well as within its own dedicated channel for those who want to marathon the show. The show’s first season will stream weeknights at 10PM ET. Catch-up episodes will be made available the following day beginning at 8PM ET. The goal is to debut a new season of the series each month through February 2021.
While Narcos will still be available to stream on Netflix, the streamer will no longer be able to call it an exclusive — a point of pride for company executives. While Netflix often licenses shows from other networks and companies, including Pluto TV owner ViacomCBS, Netflix very rarely licenses shows to competitors. Netflix doesn’t own Narcos, however; it’s owned by Gaumont International Television, a situation that likely paved the way for the deal.
Pluto TV is a “cornerstone” of ViacomCBS’s streaming business, CEO Bob Bakish has reiterated over the last year and a half. The service has more than 22 million subscribers, and ViacomCBS projected in February that those numbers would grow to 30 million. With the pandemic, however, and people looking for affordable ways to entertain themselves, free ad-supported streamers like Pluto TV are likely to reap those benefits. Now, Pluto TV can also offer one of Netflix’s most popular shows to its subscribers for free.
As for Netflix, while the deal is incredibly rare, this isn’t the first time that a Netflix-branded show has appeared elsewhere. Comedy Central signed the exclusive linear rights to BoJack Horseman, one of Netflix’s original shows that hailed from former Disney CEO Michael Eisner.