Starting Friday (Nov. 15), X1 customers will begin to have access to the Tubi app directly from the X1 set-top box, with a full U.S. rollout over the next few weeks. Tubi becomes the third over-the-top streaming video app on X1, joining Netflix and YouTube. Comcast has announced that it plans to add Amazon Prime Video to X1 by the end of 2018.
“It’s a huge deal. What we get is making Tubi accessible to many millions of households,” said Farhad Massoudi, founder and CEO of Tubi.
Tubi is the first ad-supported video streaming service on X1. Massoudi is betting that the free content lineup will appeal to Comcast cable TV customers, complementing the likes of Netflix: “There’s subscription fatigue about getting one more paid video-on-demand service,” he said.
Tubi has 200 content-licensing partners, including MGM, Lionsgate and Starz, and Paramount.
The most popular movies on Tubi include “Titanic,” “Conan the Barbarian” (2011), “The Drop,” “Child’s Play,” “Machete,” “Punisher: War Zone,” “Soul Plane,” “The Eye,” “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” “Victor Frankenstein,” “Tears of the Sun,” “Zookeeper,” “Platoon,” “After the Sunset,” “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?” and “Man of the House.”
TV comedies on Tubi include “Dead Like Me,” “3rd Rock From the Sun,” “Green Acres,” “The Addams Family,” and “Alf.” Reality TV shows available on the service include “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” “Duck Dynasty,” “My Crazy Ex,” and “Hell’s Kitchen.”
According to Comcast, X1 is now deployed to about two-thirds of its residential video customers, which numbered 20.98 million as of the end of September 2018.
With the addition of Tubi on X1, customers can search and access the entire Tubi library by saying “Tubi” into the X1 voice remote or by finding it in the X1 apps section. Eventually X1 customers will be able to browse and search the entire Tubi programming library within Xfinity On Demand.
Neither Comcast nor Tubi are disclosing commercial terms of the deal. Tubi doesn’t share stats on its current audience base or viewing, but he said minutes streamed on the platform have increased 20-fold since 2016. Competitors in the ad-supported VOD space include Sony Crackle and Walmart’s Vudu, which offers free titles in addition to rentals and sales.
Tubi’s service runs about 4-6 minutes of commercials per hour of programming, which is at least half the typical ad load of linear cable networks, according to Massoudi. (Tubi doesn’t let users skip through ads.) The company uses a programmatic-advertising engine to serve ads, which are sold by a direct sales team as well as by third-party ad networks including those operated by Adobe, SpotX, the Trade Desk, and Facebook. Tubi also works with Comcast’s FreeWheel video-ad unit.
The content available through Tubi on Comcast Xfinity X1 is the same programming available in its other channels in the U.S. and Canada. Tubi is available for free on Android and iOS mobile devices; on the web; and on connected-TV devices including Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Sony PlayStation 4, Samsung and Amazon Fire TV.
San Francisco-based Tubi has about 110 full-time employees, expanding about threefold over the past year, according to Massoudi. The company announced $20 million in funding in May 2017. Massoudi said it’s close to being profitable and is “very comfortable” financially: “We are exceeding our financial milestones.”
The company was originally founded in 2010 as AdRise, a digital ad-tech platform provider, and launched Tubi TV in 2014. It officially changed its name to Tubi Inc. and now focuses solely on the AVOD space.