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Bob Berg / Contributor, Getty Images

Viacom announced Tuesday that it has agreed to buy Pluto TV — one of the fastest-growing free, ad-supported TV streaming services in the U.S. — for $340 million in cash.

Why it matters: It's the latest digital technology company that Viacom has acquired over the past year to bring its brand, which consists mostly of legacy TV networks, into the digital future.

Details: Pluto TV is a standalone app that has distribution deals across most streaming TV services, like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast and Sony PlayStation consoles, as well as on Samsung and Vizio smart TVs.

  • Pluto Co-Founder and CEO Tom Ryan will continue to serve as CEO of Pluto TV, which will operate as an independent subsidiary of Viacom upon closing of the transaction, according to a statement.
  • The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019, subject to regulatory approval (It's unlikely that a deal this size would receive much regulatory scrutiny).
  • Paul Hastings, Covington & Burling and Shearman & Sterling served as legal counsel to Viacom. Gunderson Dettmer and Hogan Lovells served as legal counsel to Pluto TV, and LionTree Advisors served as financial advisor to Pluto TV.

What's in it for Pluto TV: Reach and resources for better growth. Pluto TV has a large network of content partners that includes major TV networks and film studios, but its core app users are much smaller than Viacom's — which consist mostly of Pay-TV subscribers, as well as digital streaming and social audiences.

  • The deal also provides global growth opportunities. In a statement, Viacom says it sees a "very compelling near-term opportunity" to create a Spanish-language streaming offering, both in the U.S. and Latin America.
  • Pluto TV's content offering will also be complemented with additional Viacom programming.

What's in it for Viacom: Digital streaming distribution and leverage for distribution deals with Pay-TV providers. It expands Viacom's digital streaming footprint to Pluto's 12 million+ monthly active users, 7.5 million of which are on connected TVs — good for both audience development and getting more use out of its content library.

  • With a larger streaming product, Viacom thinks it will have more leverage to get its content on digital skinny bundles by offering Pluto TV as a premium, free service for broadband-only and other subscribers.
  • Pluto could also serve as a marketing tool for Viacom's current direct-to-consumer subscription services, including Noggin and Comedy Central Now.
  • It will also help scale Viacom's digital television ads business by providing it with more sales inventory.

Between the lines: Pluto is the latest small-scale digital acquisition from Viacom over the past year, and more are expected.

  • It's acquired several other digital companies over the past year, including millennial entertainment production company AwesomenessTV, digital video conference VidCon and influencer-marketing company Whosay.

The big picture: Free digital, ad-supported streaming TV companies are rising as consumers face saturated budgets for subscription content.

  • "(W)e see significant white space in the ad-supported streaming market and are excited to work with the talented Pluto TV team, and a broad range of Viacom partners, to accelerate its growth in the U.S. and all over the world," CEO Bob Bakish said in a statement.

Go deeper: Viacom's quiet M&A strategy

Go deeper

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Smaller than expected "Justice for J6" rally met with large police presence

Police officers watch as demonstrators gather for the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, 2021. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

A few hundred demonstrators were met by a heavy law enforcement presence on Saturday at the "Justice for J6" rally outside the fenced-off U.S. Capitol, AP reports.

The latest: Four people were arrested at the rally, including one person with a gun, one with a knife and two with outstanding warrants, per the U.S. Capitol Police.

DHS to increase deportation flights to Haiti from Del Rio

Migrants walk across the Rio Grande River carrying supplies back to a makeshift encampment under the international bridge between Del Rio, Texas, and Acuña, Mexico. Officials are struggling to provide food, water, shelter and sanitation, forcing migrants to cross the Rio Grande several times per day for basic necessities. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Saturday announced plans to ramp up deportation flights to Haiti out of the small Texas border town Del Rio, starting as soon as Sunday.

Why it matters: Reports have emerged of more than 10,000 migrants, primarily from Haiti, crowded in a temporary camp under the international bridge in Del Rio. Hoping to find refuge in the United States, they've had to bear with filthy conditions and the scorching sun for days, per an NBC News affiliate.