Tubi TV is an American-based free streaming service that is trying to compete with industry giants Netflix and Hulu.
Instead of asking for a credit card, user login and monthly subscription fee, Tubi is giving its content away for free. In exchange for the freebies, Tubi asks its users to sit through intermittent commercial breaks.
Everything You Need to Know About Tubi TV
It may seem ambitious to take on paid streaming services without creating original or live content, but Tubi is banking on users wanting simple on-demand functionality without obligation.
Table of Contents
- What Is Tubi TV?
- How to Watch Tubi TV
- Content Available on Tubi TV
- User Experience for Tubi TV
- Final Thoughts
ABOUT THIS REVIEW: Did someone say “free content”? Team Clark is always looking for ways to help you save more and spend less, so we decided to investigate the Tubi streaming service a bit more. For the purposes of this review, I downloaded the Tubi app on my phone, tablet and streaming device and immersed myself in the content and user experience. I hope that what I found will be helpful as you decide whether or not this service is right for you.
What Is Tubi TV?
Tubi is a free streaming service that offers on-demand content like TV series and movies. In exchange for the lack of a monthly subscription, Tubi inserts advertisements and commercials into the content to generate revenue. Tubi does not create original or live content at this time. Instead, it relies on thousands of hours worth of content from studios like MGM, Paramount and Lionsgate.
Founded in 2014 and headquartered in San Francisco, the United States-based company also services Canada and Australia. Per an August 2019 report from Variety, Tubi has surpassed 20 million monthly active users. That number reportedly places Tubi among the largest independently-owned streaming companies in the United States.
How to Watch Tubi TV
Tubi is available to stream through a regular internet browser, making it available to most devices that connect to the web. However, it has apps that are native to phones, tablets, streaming devices and smart TVs that may enhance your viewing experience.
Sign Up is NOT Required
Unlike some of its competitors, Tubi does not require that you sign up for an account with them to enjoy the content. If you wanted, you could go to TubiTV.com, choose some content and enjoy the show. It’s really that simple.
However, Tubi does offer a free signup process that could enhance your user experience. Making an account with the services gives you the ability to start a queue of content to watch and resume watching content from the spot you left off if you turn it off mid-viewing. The latter could be particularly handy if you’ve started watching something on your phone and want to finish it on your television, for example.
App and Devices
Tubi is available on the following streaming devices:
- Apple TV
- Google Chromecast
- Xbox One
- Play Station 4
- Xfinity X1
- Android TV
- Cox Contour
It is also compatible with Sony, Vizio and Samsung smart TVs.
Content Available to Stream on Tubi TV
Tubi focuses primarily on movies and television series. While there is some newer content available, many users may find that the overall catalog is a bit dated. That’s part of the consequence of not paying for the content, I suppose.
Knowing that major studios like Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate are involved in providing content, I was right to assume there would be a pretty robust selection of films. You’ll find plenty of recognizable actors on the streaming service, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael J. Fox, Meg Ryan, Jennifer Lopez and more.
Here’s a sampling of the variety of films available:
- Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2
- Teen Wolf
- The Boondock Saints
- The Aviator
- Maid in Manhattan
- The Passion of the Christ
- Donnie Darko
- Major League
- All Dogs Go To Heaven
Popular TV series
With access to the A&E television library, you’ll find that there is a healthy amount of reality TV series. If you’re not into that type of content, you may find that many of the TV series lacking. There are many options from the 1980s and 90s, like Punky Brewster and Major Dad.
Here’s a sampling of the TV series available for streaming:
- Duck Dynasty
- Hell’s Kitchen
- Dog the Bounty Hunter
- American Pickers
- Storage Wars
- The Apprentice
- The Dick Van Dyke Show
- Unsolved Mysteries
- The Beverly Hillbillies
If you are looking for original streaming content, Tubi is not your best option. The service does not produce original content at this time.
User Experience for Tubi TV
Aside from content options, much of the apprehension for trying a free streaming service in place of a service like Netflix is the potential of a drop in quality of user experience.
How Bad Are the Ads?
I sat down to watch a couple of different types of movies on Tubi to better understand the ad experience. The first was an animated film that I was watching through Roku. I was shocked to find that I did not come across my first commercial break until nearly 40 minutes into the movie.
That seemed almost too good to be true, so I decided to chart the ads on the next movie. I watched a two-hour film using my laptop computer. Here’s a look at the results for the ads:
Tubi TV: Movie Commercial Breakdown
|Time of Commercial||Number of Ads|
Five fairly short commercial breaks in a two-hour span actually seems pretty reasonable for a free service.
Here are a couple more things I noticed about the ads that may be useful:
- I saw the same Sam’s Club commercial featuring Olympic runner Usain Bolt during all five commercial breaks. That was annoying, but I found a way to potentially fix it. On the bottom-right corner of the screen, there is an “i” that you can touch for more information on the ad. That screen gives you an option to both report a commercial and ask to no longer see it.
- Another issue I had with the ads was the unpredictability of their arrival in your viewing experience. For some other free services, such as IMDb TV, you could look at the progress bar on the content you were watching and it had little notches to signify an upcoming commercial interruption. Tubi, on the other hand, inserted them into the content without warning.
- Once you are on a commercial break, there is a way to track how much longer it will take until the content returns. In the lower-left portion of your screen, there is a small circular graphic that says “ad.” As the commercials play, a red progress bar wraps around the circle as pictured below. Once it returns to the top, the content resumes.
Tubi’s user interface is pretty straightforward on all platforms and easy to navigate. The homepage is clean and features a myriad of categories from which to choose content.
I found that if you want to avoid excessive scrolling on the web version of Tubi, accessing the menu bar at the top left of the screen was a great shortcut. You’ll also notice the search bar is easily accessible directly above the menu.
The app experience is a little bit different. You have the option to browse by categories and search for topics, but you navigate through the bottom of the screen as pictured below:
One category that I appreciated was the “Leaving Soon!” area. Free services like Tubi have content that comes and goes, so I think it is nice to have a designated area where users can get a “last chance” of sorts on a show or movie before it goes away.
Tips for Enjoying Tubi TV
Has some of the available content caught your attention? Here are some tips for enjoying it on Tubi TV:
- Sign up for the optional account: Tubi doesn’t require that you sign up to use the product, but the benefits are probably worth it if you plan to use it often. You will be able to build a queue of content to watch, pick up where you left off on a stream and receive customized recommendations for content.
- Utilize the variety of streaming options: I was pleasantly surprised that the user experience on my laptop, phone, tablet and streaming device stayed very consistent. There was no drop off in streaming quality, user interface, etc. One advantage to this service is that you can access it from pretty much anywhere.
- Time up the commercial breaks: One of my major complaints was that you never quite know when an advertisement will pop up on this service. But one of the advantages to when it does pop up is that the commercial break length is somewhat predictable. If you have something you need to do while watching content, know you’ll have 60 to 90 seconds to leave the room and do it once the ads begin.
Final Thoughts on Tubi TV
Still trying to decide whether or not you should add Tubi TV to your streaming options? Here are some pros and cons to think over:
Tubi TV: Pros and Cons
|FREE!||Content library is a bit dated|
|Content from major film studios||No way to anticipate commercial breaks|
|Intuitive app and web streaming options||No original content available|
Bottom Line: While you may not be able to find the latest-and-greatest content, Tubi TV is worth serious consideration if you’re looking to enjoy streaming content without a monthly bill. There is not any original content, but there are thousands of hours worth of material from major content producers. The ease of use and lack of a need to sign up makes it an easy product to consume on your own terms.
Do you have experience watching the Tubi TV streaming service? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!