There’s no shortage of on-demand streaming services out there, but few are like Tubi. But before you rush to ditch your laundry list of other subscriptions, you’re going to want to find out what Tubi is and whether it’s worth jumping ship for. After all, can Fox’s latest streaming platform really compete with the likes of Netflix?
Here’s everything you need to know about the emerging streaming service, including the features and content that define it for better or worse.
What is Tubi?
Tubi is a streaming service with a twist: It’s free. Granted, that isn’t an entirely new concept. There are several tools out there that let you tap into live programming — as well as an outdated selection of archived material — without shelling out for a monthly subscription, but Tubi deals exclusively in on-demand content. Think of it as a sort of commercialized version of Netflix without the subscription fees.
Since Tubi is free, you’re going to have to make some compromises. First and foremost, there are ads. They aren’t overwhelming, but they’re there. Second, the content isn’t unique; it’s mostly movies and shows rerun on cable and other broadcast services. There’s nothing new or exclusive on Tubi, at least not currently.
That’s not to say there’s nothing worth watching, though. Sift thoroughly enough, and you’ll find the odd diamond in the rough. A quick five-minute search unearthed several decent selections, including Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, The A-Team, Ender’s Game, Midsomer Murders, The Masked Singer, and Hell’s Kitchen. TubiTV also offers content from several major channels, including ABC, Lifetime, BabyFirst TV, CONtv, and Docurama. There’s also a fairly impressive offering of shows and movies on Tubi Kids, including Naruto, Ninjago, The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, and A Turtles Tale: Sammy’s Adventure.
The catalog also isn’t available in 4K Ultra HD resolution and tops out at Full HD, depending on how old the material you’re watching is. There’s no option to upgrade for a better viewing experience, either. Tubi is free through and through, so if you aren’t happy with the experience as is, you will need to seek out an alternative. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of them.
Chances are that if you own a (modern) device that can connect to the internet, it supports Tubi. The streaming service is accessible via your web browser and as a mobile app for both Android and iOS. It’s also available on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, and the Amazon Fire Stick 4K, as well as Roku OS and various Roku devices. There are even dedicated apps for the PlayStation 4 and Playstation 5, as well as Xbox One, Series X, and Series S.
If you don’t own a set-top box or streaming stick, you may be able to install it on your television itself. For example, the Tubi application is available in the Samsung App Store for select Samsung TVs. You can also download it from the Roku Channel Store on all Roku TVs, such as the TCL 6-Series and Fire Edition TVs, like the Toshiba Fire Edition TV.
Given the nonexistent price, there isn’t a whole lot to Tubi when it comes to features. If you want to watch something aimed at mature audiences, you’ll need to register for an account — and that’s where the tools come in. Doing so will allow you to continue watching where you left off (on any device), create a queue, and receive recommendations based on your viewing habits.
You get something for nothing in this world; if you want to watch a show for free, you’re going to need to put up with an ad or two, both before and during the show. But that’s not such a bad thing — the commercials are bearable, with one running for about 20 seconds before an hour-long show and then for around 40 seconds halfway through.
The only real downside is the content. Because Tubi relies on advertising to keep the content rolling in, it can only afford to license older material. Let’s not look this gift horse in the mouth, though: Tubi is free, and for that reason alone, it’s worth sifting through the catalog in the hopes of striking gold at least once. After all, if you find at least one thing you like, it was time well spent.
To be clear: We wouldn’t recommend ditching your Comcast subscription for Tubi if you’re cutting the cord without supplementing it with Amazon Prime, HBO Now, or Netflix (or all three). Heck, while you’re at it, we’d also recommend throwing a live TV streaming service of some description — Hulu Plus Live TV, for example — into the mix. Just don’t double-down on Tubi.