Fox Corp’s Tubi Launches in the UK

Tim Cross 02 July, 2024 

Tubi, the free ad-supported streaming service acquired by Fox Corp for $440 million back in 2020, has announced it is launching in the UK market. The UK will be Tubi’s first European market – it currently operates in the US, Canada, Australia, Mexico, and a number of Central American markets. The app will launch in the UK with a catalogue of over 20,000 films and TV episodes on-demand, from distributors including Disney, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal, and Sony Pictures Entertainment, as well as original shows and films produced for the service. Fox says the service will be available “on every major connected TV platform”, as well as through mobile apps and via a web browser.

Tubi, launched in 2014, has built up a significant audience in the US. Fox claimed in May that Tubi has 80 million monthly active users. And Nielsen’s most recent The Gauge report, which shows how TV viewing in the US is split between different services, found that Tubi accounted for 1.8 percent of all viewing minutes in May. While this doesn’t necessarily sound like much, it’s on a par with Disney+, and ranks ahead of Max, Paramount+. Peacock, Pluto TV, and the Roku Channel.

CEO Anjali Sud said that having established the service in North America, the company feels the time is right to “bring that recipe to UK audiences”.

“Taking the guilt out of guilty pleasures”

But the UK market will provide a fundamentally different challenge. As is often stated, free ad-supported models are very compelling in the US, standing in contrast to the hefty TV bills audiences are used to. In markets like the UK, where audiences are used to free TV (after the cost of the license fee), Tubi will have to work hard to stand out against the public service broadcasters’ CTV offerings. While there isn’t any good official data on their usage, the likes of the Roku Channel and Pluto TV don’t seem to have yet replicated their US success in Europe.

Content will be key, and Tubi has launched with a number of familiar titles. Films and shows currently featured on its home page include Happy Gilmore, the Twilight saga, Magic Mike, both Kill Bill films, Moonrise Kingdom, and Fresh Meat. This isn’t as strong (in terms of big-name releases) as the service’s US lineup, but as we’ve seen with other services, the content library will likely get stronger if and when Tubi starts growing an audience.

And for the time being, it seems Tubi intends to specialise in specific genres, rather than trying to compete with the likes of Netflix in offering a wide range of blockbusters. The company says that alongside Hollywood films and British franchises, Tubi will offer “new areas of discovery – from Bollywood and Nollywood to Arthouse cinema”. Tubi will also launch an ad campaign later this month with the tagline of “watch what you actually want to watch”, which it says aims to “combat entertainment snobbery and traditionalism – Tubi believes in taking the guilt out of guilty pleasures”.

Interestingly, Tubi has launched without the linear free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) component which is available in the US. Again, FAST isn’t as mainstream in the UK as it is in the US – but even established broadcasters have started introducing FAST channels within their streaming offerings. It may be that Tubi feels strategically, it’s best placed positioning itself as an on-demand service, since that’s how streaming content tends to be watched in the UK.

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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