While Viacom’s $340 million purchase of Pluto TV highlights the over-the-top universe’s sudden fixation with ad-supported video-on-demand, Tubi CEO Farhad Massoudi has actually been beating the drum of free, ad-supported streaming services for the better part of a decade.
The former Yahoo engineer founded the OTT company that became Tubi TV back in 2010. As Netflix became the paywalled blueprint by which most subsequently established streaming services were built, Massoudi long advocated the need for a robust, free-to-consumer, ad-supported streaming platform as a vital complementary service.
Subscription Fatigue Sets In
“For years, everybody dismissed AVOD and tried to copy Netflix,” Massoudi told Multichannel News. “But it turns out there is subscription fatigue. The average household is not going to subscribe to all of these services.”
With Netflix adding about 8.8 million subscribers in the fourth quarter, saturation in the subscription streaming market hasn’t necessarily hit the fan. But with Disney, WarnerMedia and other media companies pulling back their content from the major SVOD platforms, and set to launch subscription walled video gardens of their own, the check is in the mail.
Notably, Hulu has reduced the price of its partially ad-supported base tier by $2 to $5.99. The belief is that consumers will put begin putting up with a few commercials again in order to get some relief from all the OTT services dinging their credit card statements each month.
San Francisco-based Tubi, backed by $26 million in private capital, according to Crunchbase, believes it is well-positioned.
At press time, the company was still preparing an announcement expected to come out soon touting its latest viewership benchmarks.
Massoudi said viewership has increased by a factor of 4 times just in the last year, with the platform’s collection of more than 9,000 movie and TV titles — culled from major suppliers including Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate and MGM — easily accessible to any consumer with an iPhone or Android; Roku or Fire TV; Xbox One or PlayStation gaming boxes; and pretty much any smart TV, just to name a few of the devices on which the Tubi app is playable. Notably, Tubi is natively integrated into Comcast’s X1 platform, alongside Netflix and YouTube.
As for specific content available on the platform, Massoudi said Pulp Fiction was the most popular title on the platform in December.
Beyond content, Tubi has made sizable investments to not only develop ad tech, he said, but also advanced search and recommendation features.
“We’re more of a data company that’s focused on the media ecosystem than a media company focused on data,” Massoudi said.
Positioning Tubi’s technology chops is to his company’s advantage right now. Massoudi would not go into specifics on M&A, but it was widely reported that Viacom also looked at Tubi before choosing Pluto TV to be its AVOD launching point.
Certainly, there are other media companies out there with needs similar to Viacom. But for his part, Moussoudi said Tubi can keep on growing on its own.
“We’re very comfortable with our path of remaining independent,” he said.