Tubi partners with Vice for exclusive original documentaries

Fox’s Tubi is teaming up with Vice Media Group to create a slate of original documentaries that are exclusive to the free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) service.

The exclusive content deal, announced Monday, covers eight Tubi Original documentaries with the first, “The Cult of Elon” focused on the story of Elon Musk and Tesla, set to debut on April 24. Produced by Vice News, the second documentary, “Vigilante, Inc.” delves into the rise of online vigilantism and will debut on Tubi on May 6.  The six remaining series are expected to cover topics including chatbot technology, mass shootings in the U.S., and ticket scalping, with launches throughout 2023.

“VICE has a longstanding reputation of award-winning investigative storytelling and we're excited to expand Tubi Original Documentaries with their expertise," said Adam Lewinson, Chief Content Officer, Tubi. “These original documentaries will raise the curtain and spark conversation on stories that tap into today’s cultural zeitgeist, including ticket scalping, chatbots and the rise of online vigilantism.”

Beverly Chase, VP of Current Programming at Vice News, is tasked with overseeing the partnership with Tubi. Under the deal, Vice Distribution will retain worldwide rights to the documentaries outside of the U.S.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Tubi to take a deep dive into some of today’s most timely and compelling issues with these eight brand-new documentaries,” said Morgan Hertzan, President of Global TV at Vice.

Separately, Vice Media early this year restarted its sale process, reportedly looking for a buyer with a price that was expected to value the company below $1 billion after it initially was seeking a valuation between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.

As for Tubi, the FAST service – which in February nabbed the distinction of reaching the 1% threshold for TV viewing time in the U.S. and separating itself from Nielsen’s The Gauge “other streaming” category – said the latest partnership highlights its dedication to build out its original unscripted offering. Tubi counts 64 million monthly active users on its platform and noted that its unscripted titles cover content from true crime documentaries to deep dive specials into major pop culture moments, “with plans to continue to grow this vertical in the year ahead.”

While Tubi is a FAST that offers a linear-style channel lineup with over 200 local and live news and sports channels, like others in the space it also offers a large library of on-demand, featuring over 50,000 TV shows and movies with 455 entertainment partners. And counter to some other FASTs like Pluto TV that focus on its linear offering, Tubi has been making its on-demand offering the centerpiece rather than the linear channel guide – to that point its press marketing materials now categorizing Tubi as Fox’s “ad-supported video-on-demand service."

TVREV’s Alan Wolk noted the distinct approach for Tubi in a recent column on Fierce Video, saying that Tubi “defies the whole ‘FAST is linear’ narrative” and noting that when a user opens the Tubi app they first see on-demand offerings and need to click to get to linear channels.

“It’s something you might have heard here once or twice—that FASTs have both linear and on-demand, and that consumers actually like both and like having both options,” wrote Wolk.

Tubi is also building out its originals offering with Vice amid the Upfront season, where it’s prepared to showcase new partnerships and tools for advertisers as it looks to attract more dollars to the free ad-supported streaming service. To that end it recently disclosed partnerships and integrations with vendors including Comscore, VideoAmp and LiveRamp, alongside expanded ad formats such as Pause Ads available for buyers.

As Tubi sees users continue to climb, it’s also reported ad revenue growth, recording a 25% year over year increase for the period ending December 31, 2022.