In a rare licensing move, the Netflix drama series Narcos will be available for free streaming on ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV starting October 20.
The deal marks the first time that Narcos will be widely available to streaming viewers in the US without a Netflix subscription and for free. (The show was previously licensed to Univision through a linear agreement.) All five seasons of the show (Narcos is Narcos: Mexico) will be available to stream as part of Pluto TV’s Crime Drama and Narco Novelas program, as well as within its own dedicated channel for those wanting to marathon the show. The show̵
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 licenses the shows to competitors. Netflix does not own Narcos, however; it is owned by Gaumont International Television, a situation that probably paved the way for the deal.
Pluto TV is a “cornerstone” of ViacomCBS’s streaming business, CEO Bob Bakish reiterated over the past year and a half. The service has more than 22 million subscribers, and ViacomCBS predicted 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 these benefits. Now, Pluto TV can also offer one of Netflix’s most popular shows for free to its subscribers.
As for Netflix, while the deal is incredibly rare, this isn’t the first time a Netflix-branded show has appeared elsewhere. Comedy Central has signed exclusive linear rights for BoJack Horseman, one of Netflix’s original shows hailed by former Disney CEO Michael Eisner.