What would be the equivalent of syndication for Netflix, a streaming service with thousands of original titles that are exclusive to its platform? For at least one Netflix series, Narcos, it will be its free streaming debut on Pluto TV, a free streaming television service that has managed to get the streaming rights to the critically acclaimed Netflix crime drama.
Pluto TV announced that, in partnership with Gaumont, it will begin streaming Netflix’s Narcos for free on its streaming service beginning October 20. This marks the first time that all five seasons of Narcos (meaning both Narcos seasons 1-3 and the two seasons of Narcos: Mexico) will be available to stream for free in the U.S. — and the first time that an ongoing Netflix original will stream on another platform.
Narcos will be streamed across four different Pluto TV-owned and operated linear channels, with multiple air times and different languages to accommodate all manner of viewing audiences. The series will be presented in both English and Spanish, and programmed across Pluto TV’s Crime Drama and Narco Novelas channels and its own branded single-series, marathon-style channels: Narcos and Narcos en Español. Spanish-speaking versions of Narcos will stream with English subtitles, and English-speaking versions of Narcos will stream with Spanish subtitles. Amy Kuessner, SVP Content Strategy and Global Partnerships at Pluto TV, said this is to expand the “evolving free streaming landscape,” in a statement:
“As the adoption of ad-supported streaming continues to accelerate, we are excited to build on that momentum and align with esteemed creators and producers in search of new ways to introduce audiences to their coveted collection of award-winning content. Working in partnership with Gaumont, a longtime pioneer in the world of streaming, to bring the acclaimed Netflix Original series Narcos to Pluto TV is further testament to the evolving free streaming landscape that is rapidly gaining foothold for prestige partners, game-changing content and audiences alike.”
Of course, they will be free with one caveat: ads. However, when Narcos begins streaming on Pluto TV on October 20, presenting sponsor T-Mobile will offer limited commercial interruptions for the first two episodes.
Season one of Narcos will stream weeknights at 10 P.M. ET, with catch-up episodes the following day beginning at 8 P.M. ET. Bonus weekend marathons will be offered following the series premiere. Pluto TV will debut a new season each month through February 2021.
This is a surprising move on Netflix’s part to give the streaming rights of a popular ongoing original title to another service, though perhaps Narcos‘ particular subject matter gives it unique crossover potential. As a crime drama based on the histories of the illegal drug trades in Colombia and Mexico, there is an untapped market for Spanish-speaking audiences who perhaps don’t have a Netflix subscription. We’ll have to see whether this becomes a more common thing for Netflix, or whether this is just a one-time deal.