Pluto TV is giving classic game-show fans a new reason to come on down: Bob Barker–hosted episodes of The Price is Right are headed to the free streaming platform, Vulture has learned. Starting December 1, the ViacomCBS-owned streamer will begin carrying a 24/7 channel devoted to TPIR episodes from Barker’s tenure as host of the long-running game show, with a focus on hundreds of hours from the 1980s that haven’t aired on TV since they were first broadcast during the Reagan years.
The new channel is the result of a partnership between Pluto and Price studio/distributor Fremantle, which continues to crank out first-run episodes of the show for Pluto sibling CBS. The series of episodes will carry the somewhat wordy title The Price is Right: The Barker Era, perhaps to avoid any confusion with the Drew Carey–hosted show still bringing in solid ratings for the Eye network. It is launching nearly two years after Fremantle and Pluto struck a deal to add the live feed of Buzzr, Fremantle’s digital broadcast network devoted to classic game show reruns.
Mark Deetjen, general manager of Buzzr, said Pluto’s status as a free streamer (rather than a paid service) made it the right choice for a show with deep roots in TV’s broadcast era. “The golden age of game shows was a time when families would come together to watch this fun and engaging genre of television from the comfort of their living rooms,” Deetjen said. “Pluto TV’s mission to offer accessible entertainment to homes across America harnesses this very same spirit,” making it ideal to “reintroduce this iconic content.” And while Buzzr would itself also seem a logical home for TPIR reruns, at least for now, the Barker episodes will be exclusive to Pluto, according to Amy Kuessner, the streamer’s senior VP of content strategy and global partnership. Kuessner called TPIR “classic feel-good TV and a part of television history.”
In another throwback to linear days, TPIR: The Barker Era episodes will feature ads and only be available via virtual livestream, meaning that, at least for now, there will be no ability to watch specific episodes on demand. Still, Pluto and Fremantle will be looking to event-ize the channel, with plans for a Christmas Eve marathon of holiday-themed shows. The batch of episodes headed to Pluto will also include some milestone episodes in TPIR history, including the introduction of now-classic games such as Plinko, as well as some double Showcase winners. TPIR: The Barker Era will be located in Pluto’s Entertainment section, where there’s already a channel devoted to Deal or No Deal and Fremantle-owned Baywatch. The Buzzr channel on Pluto, currently included in the streamer’s classic TV area, will be moving back to the Entertainment section in mid-December and will be located adjacent to the TPIR channel.
Barker, who is set to turn 97 on Dec. 12, hosted TPIR for 35 years, holding the skinny mic from the start of the show’s 1972 revival on CBS until his retirement in 2007. The first incarnation of the show aired on from 1956 until 1963 on NBC and then from 1963 until 1965 on ABC. Buzzr currently airs those pre-Barker black and white episodes on the weekend.