As the subscription streaming wars boil over, billions of dollars are being tossed around in corporate mergers. For the most part, Fox appears content to sit this one out. After selling its movie and TV library to Disney, Fox chose to double down on its live programming. But that model may be getting a tweak, thanks to the success of its free, ad-supported streaming service, Tubi.
Fox acquired Tubi last year for $440 million to expand its content portfolio, and the deal has paid off in spades. Tubi’s viewership has grown consistently since Fox’s acquisition, to the point where Fox co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch said his network expects to “win in AVOD with Tubi” and said it could become a billion-dollar business.
In an interview with AdWeek, Fox president of advertising sales Marianne Gambelli said, “We think Tubi is TV on steroids. It’s premium content at scale, bringing in a younger, more diverse audience, one that doesn’t necessarily watch broadcast or cable at all. So getting Tubi in front of that constituency but also showing the power of Fox—Tubi makes Fox more powerful.”
Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier said, “For Tubi, what’s remarkable, because it’s driven on this proprietary content intelligence platform, we get so much information about not just what people like, but where they really want to go deep, these pockets of passion.”
That user data is informing their content strategy moving forward. “Imagine that we walked into a movie theater right now with 100 people and said, ‘How many people want to watch Star Wars?’ You’d be lucky if 20 people raised their hand,” saidT ubi founder and CEO Farhad Massoudi. “Now, for one-hundredth of the budget for Star Wars, I go license 100 movies, and now I can easily super-serve 60 people in that room. And so not only do I reach a larger audience, but it’s also a far better business. So we’re moving away from a world where the schedule was limited, and therefore you have to appeal to the broadest audience, to a world of narrowcasting, which is a both far better business and appeals to a larger audience.”
The big question, of course, is whether the audience will be able to discover the content in an increasingly vast sea of options. Ad-supported free platforms continue to grow, with offerings like Pluto TV, Peacock, and the Roku Channel, audiences have a ton of choice. Also, many of these offerings overlap. You can view a channel like Cheddar on Samsung TV Plus, Pluto TV, Xumo, Haystack News, Stirr, Redbox, Vizio, Plex, Local New, Roku Channel, Tivo, and Tubi.
A new Verizon Media and Publicis Media survey found 47% of respondents said they are “more interested in ad-supported streaming” than they were “a few years ago.” Time will tell if Tubi’s original offerings are enough to give it a competitive advantage.