Tubi turns up fan-sourced Stubios initiative to greenlight film, TV projects

Fox’s Tubi is launching a new initiative, dubbed Stubios, for aspiring and independent TV and filmmakers that lets fans weigh in on the process and voice support to greenlight long-form content projects that will air on the free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) service.

An aim of the beta program is to bring new voices and storytelling to film and TV series through an avenue that’s outside of the traditional entertainment network executive decision-making channels and instead focused on fan interest and support for creatives.

Consumers and creatives can access Stubios via mobile app and webpage (by registering with a free Tubi account), where the fan interaction, participation and glimpses of the content creation process will take place.  Out of the gate and to get things started, Tubi selected three “Stubio runners” who will create programming, with a final fourth Stubio runner in the initiative’s first cohort still to be picked.  

The first so-called Stubio runner is rapper Lady London, who grew a viral following for her freestyle raps. Lady London plans to have fans follow along on Stubios as she produces a docuseries exploring her life and the creation of her debut album. Details about the two additional creatives picked by Tubi for the first cohort of the beta program are expected to be announced later in May. Applications to be the fourth Stubio runner in the initial cohort open May 7 and run through the earlier of May 31 or until 750 applications are received.

Eventually with the next cohort, Tubi wants all Stubio runners to be picked based on fan feedback and engagement in the Stubios platform. Once a project is completed, Stubio runners whose content meets certain, undisclosed viewership thresholds will automatically get greenlit for a second project.

In addition to helping pick which creatives and projects get selected, on the Stubios platform fans that register for Tubi will have the chance to weigh in and engage with the behind-the-scenes action. For example, the creator could drop first cuts and get real-time feedback or poll the Stubios community for input on casting, fashion choices or music selections for the project. What’s shared with the community and how much fan feedback actually makes it into the final cut of content is at the Stubio runner’s discretion.

Tubi Stubios
Rapper Lady London is the first "Stubio runner" announced by Tubi.  (Tubi)

To help on the creative side Tubi has partnered with actress and entrepreneur Issa Rae, with Stubio runners receiving script support and one-on-one mentor calls with Rae and creative production support from her management and production company ColorCreative.

To be clear, this is not a user-generated content (UGC) play by the FAST service nor meant to be a popularity contest where only TikTok personalities with umpteen followers can participate, a Tubi spokesperson affirmed to StreamTV Insider.

So while having a large following is meaningful and Tubi is not excluding social media content creators, when considering which people to accept into the program as Stubio runners it’s not basing criteria on a given number of followers. Instead, Tubi’s looking for engagement. Meaning even if it’s a niche genre, topic or a relatively unknown aspiring filmmaker and there are passionate and engaged fans that want to see that story told, Tubi is on board to help fund it.

Rather than looking for someone with 100 million followers, “if you’ve got 1,000 people who really love what you’re doing then that counts too,” the Tubi spokesperson told STV.

 And while there aren’t set guidelines for the length, genre or type of TV and films made through Stubios, all projects resulting from the effort will be long-form content, according to the spokesperson.

“Tubi is free entertainment for the cordless generation, and we’re committed to a programming strategy that resonates with younger and diverse audiences,” said Anjali Sud, CEO of Tubi. “Tubi has the unique advantage of the world’s largest library of movies and TV series, and the insights we gain from viewers telling us what they want to watch. Stubios is a way to give creatives with invested fanbases an opportunity to tell stories that may not otherwise be greenlit in Hollywood, and it will enable Tubi to ensure our programming reflects culture as it is happening.”

Here are some key tidbits about the Stubios initiative:

  • Stubios applicants must be U.S. residents 18 year or older but don’t need to have any filmmaking experience.
    • The program is looking for independent creators with varied backgrounds and different experience levels.
    • To apply, creatives can submit materials of their choosing to showcase what they plan to produce, be it a script, a treatment, or a video describing their project.
  • Tubi will promote and distribute films and series created from the Stubios program as Tubi Originals on its FAST platform including CTV.
    • Resulting shows and movies from the Stubios program are expected to be available on Tubi by the end of this year.
  • Once completed, if a creator’s project meets certain, undisclosed viewership thresholds, their second Stubios project will be automatically greenlit by Tubi.
    • The Tubi spokesperson told StreamTV Insider that second-project viewership threshold metrics will vary by project and be benchmarked against other viewership comps within the Tubi library.
  • Stubio runners will get an executive producer credit and fee and be paid a flat fee for their original IP and work on the project.
    • Tubi confirmed that how much work the Stubio runner does against the project also informs compensation, meaning they’ll be paid for creative elements they handle, such as additional funds if they write, direct, perform or contribute other aspects of the project.
    • Asked about performance or viewership-based compensation, the Tubi spokesperson said right now Tubi is managing compensation based on the work Stubio runners put into the project, and for those who get a second project greenlit and funded – that’s the success metric that “unlocks more funds.” (Viewership-based streaming bonuses and higher residuals related to streaming were one of the asks traditional Hollywood writers represented by WGA secured under a new contract that ended a months-long strike last year.)

Through Stubios Tubi is also responding to and looking to capitalize on viewer sentiments as it aims to deliver content from a variety of voices and to engage younger audiences.

A recent study published by Tubi including survey data fielded by The Harris Poll found nearly three-quarters of Gen Z and Millennials say they prefer original content to remakes, while the same proportion reported interest in seeing diversity and representation in the TV and movies they stream. What’s more, 71% agreed they would like to see more TV series and movies on streaming that are from independent or smaller creators. And of that, most (64%) reported enjoying content from smaller creators “because they feel they’re supporting creators directly.”

“Stubios is something we have a lot of heart for as younger audiences are asking for more original long-form stories, content from smaller creators and they’ve even told us they want to be able to directly support creators,” said Nicole Parlapiano, CMO of Tubi, in a statement. “We know advertisers are eager to connect with younger, more diverse audiences, and Stubios provides a unique opportunity to get in front of a group that is typically glued to social media.”

For advertisers, Tubi said brands and marketers will be able to engage with the younger audiences it expects on Stubios through brand partnerships and product integrations, among other options.

And while Tubi said this isn’t a UCG play, some streamers and social content creators have been looking to expand popular influencers’ reach onto new platforms and with long-form content. That could be seen in a recent deal between Amazon’s Prime Video and YouTube star MrBeast for a reality-competition TV show on the streaming platform that’s set to dole out a $5 million cash prize.

Tubi has also taken other steps to bring lesser-known voices into the fold, including through a partnership with The Black List last November, which was meant to give emerging and established writers a chance to submit their screenplays for development, production and eventually distribution by Tubi. The five original films commissioned through that effort are expected to start arriving as Tubi Original movies on the platform as early as 2025.

Tubi is the most-watched FAST service in the U.S., per Nielsen’s The Guage, including in March when it accounted for 1.6% of TV viewing time.  At most recent count, Tubi had 78 million monthly active users.