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Tubi’s meteoric rise: How a free streaming service is outpacing the competition

As streaming services increase prices, Tubi’s commitment to remaining free boosts its popularity
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Photo credit: / Gorodenkoff

Streaming services across the board have been raising their subscription prices, and now Tubi, a free ad-supported service, has reported its biggest month yet.

According to Nielsen data for May, Tubi reported an average audience of 46% more than this time last year, with one million people using the service at a time on average. This impressive showing surpasses Disney+, which reported an average audience of 969,000 viewers, as well as Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max, Paramount+, and NBCUniversal’s Peacock. The only ad-supported streaming platform to report higher viewers is YouTube.

“Tubi continues to pull ahead from its ad-supported video-on-demand competition and post faster than expected growth,” said research firm MoffettNathanson. This growth comes after all the major streaming services, including Netflix and Apple TV+, raised subscription prices. Netflix, in particular, costs $6.99 for its cheapest tier, which comes with commercials. Its ad-free subscription costs $15.49 per month.

Tubi’s extensive library

In September 2023, Tubi reported it had 74 million monthly active users. The platform’s selection of content, due to its ad-supported nature, is extensive. There’s a significant portion of licensed content on the platform, but it’s also become a go-to platform for low-budget filmmakers and content producers. Village Roadshow also launched its Black Noir Cinema initiative on Tubi, an effort to produce work by Black filmmakers with some in the style of classic Blaxploitation cinema.

Adam Lewinson, chief content officer at Tubi, noted that once-forgotten TV shows have also found a home on the platform. One example he gave was the NBC series “Believe,” which has garnered much attention from young viewers despite being canceled a decade ago. “If things stay on its current course, we believe it’s going to get far more viewers on Tubi than it ever got in its first window on broadcast,” he said. There have been various Tubi original movies, and the streaming platform will launch its first original series later this year with “The Z Suite,” a series starring “Gilmore Girls” star Lauren Graham.

Tubi might not have the prestige of originals like those from Netflix, Max, and Apple TV+, but its ad-supported library is so vast that it’s got something for most audiences. Its curation might not be as strong as the Criterion Channel, for instance, but it does have all of “Columbo.”

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