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Given the increase of people at home at present (and in 2020, no doubt), it is no surprise that overall content consumption is on the rise. Certainly, there is no shortage of choices for the consumer, with the average individual privy to over 100 different content outlets at any given time. But equally relevant is the shift from linear to digital, which emerged well before COVID-19, and has rapidly accelerated during the pandemic.
According to the third quarter 2020 Global VOD Service Competitor Review, subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) customers reached 217.6 million, the highest ever, beating the previous record of 211.7 million in fourth quarter 2018. The annual increase grew for the third quarter in a row. Market research firm eMarketer also projects streaming use to outpace cable subscription households by 2023, when access to 64.4 million households will exclusively default to streaming.
“When we look back at the last year, it is no secret that streaming usage exploded,” noted Natalie Bastian, Vice President, Marketing at Tubi (tubi.tv). “With more people at home, many with more time to fill, streaming was an increased destination. And the inherent benefits of the streaming experience, where you can select and watch content at your convenience, were particularly apparent.”
Of course, much of this usage growth is a result of more SVOD streaming services. Disney+ and Apple TV+ launched in November 2019. HBO Max and Peacock rolled out in spring 2020. Discovery+ is the most recent. And others, including the rebranding of CBS All Access into Paramount+, are on the horizon. Coupled with the SVOD mainstays like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, consumers are confronted with mounting subscription costs. The more streamers you choose, the higher the monthly cost.
Just which streaming services does the average consumer choose?
“As we look at the entire landscape, it is truly a consumer’s market with the amount of choice to access entertainment across streaming, cable and broadcast. Consumers, on average, subscribe to 4 to 5 streaming services. Next year, no doubt, these individuals will take a step back to see how these costs add up and will make some cuts, similar to the cable debundling we’ve seen over the years.” noted Bastian. “From Tubi’s perspective, we see broadcast, cable and streaming SVODs complementary to our platform because we are free with no subscription cost required.”
Launched in 2014 and acquired by Fox Corporation in 2020, Tubi is a free ad-supported streaming service known for the largest free content library in streaming. As of January 2021 there are 30,000 movies and TV series across all genres. This includes award-winning movies like “American Hustle” and “Lion”, throwback classics like “My Girl” and “Beverly Hills Ninja”, and huge collections such as Black Cinema, LGBTQ, Bollywood classics, cult classics, documentaries, music and concerts, nostalgia, and fitness. There is even a container on Tubi titled Not on Netflix, with content targeted to what you won’t find on “that other site.”
“Tubi is a tremendous destination for someone in search of something obscure that you probably won’t find anywhere else,” noted Robert Russo, President and CEO of RNR Media Consulting. “The library is both current and past. The commercials are limited like they say they are. And the platform is like home; a comfortable destination with shows to discover or revisit with.”
“While most paid services are known for operating ad free (or a combination normally offered at a lower monthly cost), the ads on Tubi are not obtrusive to the content,” he added. “And, of course, it is all free.”
Fox’s Acquisition of Tubi
In search of its own popular streaming platform to get a foothold in the self-described “Streaming Wars,” Fox Corporation’s acquisition of Tubi came with a hefty inventory of movies and TV series.
“Tubi will immediately expand our direct-to-consumer audience and capabilities and will provide our advertising partners with more opportunities to reach audiences at scale,” said Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch in a statement at the time of the acquisition. “Coupled with the combined power of Fox’s existing networks, Tubi provides a substantial base from which we will drive long-term growth in the direct-to-consumer arena.”
In 2020, Tubi saw its Monthly Active Users grow to 33 million viewers and Total View Time skyrocket to an estimated 2.5 billion hours streamed for the year. Similar to general OTT trends, there is a reported increase of 58 percent in viewership for Tubi over the past 12 months. Growth for Tubi in streaming hours has also nearly doubled since 2019.
“As our awareness continues to build, we see our audience grow, and we find that once new streamers find Tubi they stick around,” said Tubi’s Natalie Bastian. “The beauty of Tubi is our personalization and discovery tools, which make it super easy for streamers to find and watch movies and series they love, and find a new treasure trove of new content all for free.”
“Our approach to content is rooted with the streamer in mind. We build our library to drive consumption, not for sign ups, and we lean into genres that we see our streamers watching the most and build destinations for niche content that cannot collectively be found anywhere else. We’re dedicated to growing our offering in genres that are resonating with our streamers,” added Bastian.
Tubi Kids; Tubi en Español; News on Tubi
Specifically-themed programming initiatives at Tubi include Tubi Kids, a dedicated hub for the streamer’s family-friendly content with a focus on educational content; Tubi en Español, a Spanish-language destination for movies, telenovelas, and family friendly series; and News on Tubi, which launched last fall. News on Tubi offers access to live streaming news content, 24/7, via content from Fox Television Stations, NewsNOW from Fox, Fox Soul, Bloomberg TV, NBC News NOW, People TV, CBC, Cheddar, WeatherNation, Atlice USA’s News 12 New York, fubo Sports Network, and Black News Channel.
“We’re rapidly expanding our partnerships to provide the largest free local news offering in streaming,” noted Bastian. “With the timeliness of the election, the pandemic, and news being so much at the forefront, we wanted to ensure that we provide an array of different viewpoints. And we understand that folks who are cord-cutters don’t necessarily have access to their local broadcasts.”
The Streaming Wars Accelerate
Mirroring cable in its heyday, when the growing number of outlets found it increasingly difficult to compete, the obvious advantage of Tubi, particularly at these challenging economic times, is the lack of a price tag.
“If I was Tubi I would be running a marketing plan targeted to the home theme,” said RNR Media Consulting’s Robert Russo. If you are looking for nostalgic classics, family-friendly titles or recent blockbusters, go to Tubi. They have it all…and it is free!”