Fox’s free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) service Tubi has reached 64 million monthly active users.
Tubi disclosed the figure alongside a research report on streaming and the FAST and AVOD landscape. In 2022 Tubi’s total viewing time (TVT) was up 44% year-over-year compared to 2021, with users streaming more than 5 billion hours last year.
The latest MAU tally comes after Fox reported quarterly earnings including growth at Tubi, which saw its highest TVT and user month ever in December, according to Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch. It marks a 3 million increase from the last reported metric of 61 million monthly active users, and up from the 25 million Tubi had when Fox purchased the streaming service roughly three years ago.
As Tubi released research highlights on streaming trends, it pointed to its own audience as attractive to advertisers noting it has a young, although maturing, and increasingly diverse user base. According to the report, Tubi’s African American and LGBT audiences grew over 50% and audience growth exceeded 25% in each major level of household income, as well as for the Hispanic demographic. The median age for a Tubi user is 39, with 36% of the FAST's base between 18-34 years old and 34% between 35-54 years old.
On the advertising front Tubi has also seen growth, in the most recent quarter reporting a year over year ad revenue bump of 25%.
“As subscription costs continue to rise, nearly 1 in 3 streamers plan to reduce spending on streaming services this year,” said Mark Rotblat, chief revenue officer at Tubi, in a statement. “With consumers turning to AVOD to complement the select SVOD services they choose to keep, Tubi offers a brand-safe environment for advertisers looking to tap into an incremental, young, diverse, and highly engaged streaming audience.”
The report found that less than 1 in 5 viewers are unsatisfied with the length of ad breaks on Tubi’s platform, but still prefer lighter ad loads compared to traditional TV. Compared to linear TV’s average of 13-17 minutes of commercial per hour, Tubi cited 6 minutes or less of ads per hour as a target – a length that less than 17% of Tubi users are dissatisfied with.
Interestingly, as streaming players look to engage viewers with new video ad formats, Tubi’s research said most streaming viewers (62%) prefer standard video ad formats over newer options. The standard format scored better than split screen (which 43% preferred), pause ads (41%), interactive (30%) or QR code ads (24%).
“Tubi ads align with streamer preferences by serving relevant messaging in a familiar format,” the report stated.
That said, new CTV ad formats and interactivity are still in the early days and consumer preference may not have caught up. A separate study from Roku (one streaming service that’s experimenting with new ad formats, as well as shoppable TV), found new ad formats such as Watch Along and Thematic Vignettes, resulted in stronger ad recall and provided information that encouraged viewers to look up a product.
Roku, which itself recently surpassed 70 million active accounts globally on its platform, is one streaming provider vying for eyeballs and ad dollars through its FAST service, The Roku Channel.
And Tubi marked user growth as the free streaming TV field continues to heat up with both FAST and AVOD options. Pointing to the rise in FAST, the report cited more than 1,400 channels across 22 major providers, providing content to over 190 million users.
According to Tubi’s research, ease of use is top of mind for users of FAST and AVOD services, with 59% of viewers expecting low barrier to entry from free services – compared to 34% who expect ease from SVODs. Tubi also compared streaming viewers’ top three priorities for paid and free services. For free services, key factors include content variety, content quality and an easy to use platform, whereas for paid services consumers care more about content quality, an ad-free experience, and a low subscription fee.
In addition to Tubi and The Roku Channel, the FAST space is populated by the likes of Paramount Global’s Pluto TV, Amazon’s Freevee, Charter and Comcast’s Xumo Play, and FAST services from smart TV makers Samsung, Vizio and LG, as well as independent app publishers. Last week Dish’s Sling TV launched a new FAST offering called Freestream.
One notable exit from the FAST space at a time when competition isn't slowing down is NBCUniversal’s Peacock, which has been a leader in the space but stopped offering a free version of the streaming service to new subscribers in January. In addition, just this week, The Streamable confirmed existing Comcast Xfinity pay TV and internet subscribers with a Flex device that used to get the Peacock Premium service (normally $4.99 per month) for free will have to start paying for the streaming service on June 26.
As for Tubi, its growth has apparently not gone unnoticed. Bloomberg recently reported Fox had turned down unsolicited offers of over $2 billion for the FAST service. Fox acquired Tubi in 2020 for around $440 million. Tubi now offers 50,000 titles and more than 200 local and live news, sports and entertainment channels, as well as on demand content. This year its linear and on-demand content slate expanded with 225 AVOD titles and 2,000 hours of programming from Warner Bros. Discovery, alongside 14 new linear-style FAST channels.