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Tubi to Launch in U.K. on July 2

Tubi to Launch in U.K. on July 2

Tubi, the free advertising-supported streaming service owned by Fox Corp., is looking to bring its success formula to the U.K., launching in the market on Tuesday, July 2.

The streamer, led by CEO Anjali Sud, the former head of Vimeo, now has about 80 million monthly active users, the executive told The Hollywood Reporter. In the U.S., its strategy has differed from other FAST platforms. For example, 90 percent of viewing on Tubi is focused on on-demand movies and TV series, compared to peers’ focus on live, linear channels. And per the Nielsen Gauge from April, Tubi made up 1.7 percent of all TV viewing in the U.S. for that month, just below Disney+. 

“Tubi has spent the last decade honing our approach to vast, free and fun streaming in North America, and we feel that now is the perfect time to bring that recipe to U.K. audiences,” said Sud in unveiling the U.K. debut. “We are launching with one of the largest and most diverse content libraries in the U.K., designed to indulge viewers in everything from blockbusters to original stories to hidden gems.”

Tubi said it would launch in the U.K. with more than 20,000 movies and TV episodes on-demand, “featuring curated content from major global distributors such as Disney, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal, and Sony Pictures Entertainment, as well as a robust slate of exclusive Tubi originals. Tubi’s content library in the UK pairs some of the best Hollywood films with modern British classics, and offers series with well-known U.K. TV franchises alongside new areas of discovery – from Bollywood and Nollywood to arthouse cinema.

Among the titles available on Tubi U.K. at launch are such Tubi originals as Slay, House of Heat, and
Festival of the Living Dead, along with such other series as Marvel’s The Runaways, Cash Cab (U.K.) and Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown. Among the movies available are the likes of Charlie’s Angels, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Moonrise Kingdom, Billy Elliot, Twilight: New Moon, and Twilight: Eclipse.

“At a time when traditional programming feels homogenous and when finding what to watch feels like a chore, Tubi has been effective at delivering delight beyond the monoculture with content that appeals to diverse and vibrant fandoms,” said David Salmon, EVP and Managing Director of International at Tubi. “We believe that we can build a brilliantly broad, culturally ambitious offering that puts UK audiences back at the centre, and makes it fun and easy to enjoy great entertainment from around the world.” 

“We have seen our recipe resonate in North America,” Sud told THR. “Our bet is that we can make that a really healthy, sustainable, efficient business in the U.K. as well over time.”

David Salmon, executive vp and managing director, who has been playing a key role in Tubi’s international expansion, which has so far already taken it to Canada and Latin America, described the positioning for Tubi in the U.K. as “brilliantly broad and very culturally ambitious.” He explained to THR: “Yes, we are going to have Hollywood blockbusters and amazing premium TV episodes. But across the 20,000 movies and TV episodes we’ll have on the service at launch, you’re also going to find the weird, the wonderful, the brilliant, the unique, and there are going to be some segments that you just can’t find in what typically does tend to be this very, very busy middle, which is typically super-served by SVOD services.”

The same is true for many U.K. broadcasters and streamers, the Tubi team believes. “As we looked at the U.K., we’re not expanding into a bunch of markets this year, so this isn’t part of a big, broad global domination strategy,” Sud shared. We really asked ourselves if there is something unique in this market where we can bring value to British audiences? When we look at the traditional broadcasters, there’s just naturally a tendency to focus on programming for the middle, for the median viewer, which can lead to a bit of a monoculture kind of approach. The U.K. is a melting pot, and culture is is moving fast. You have younger audiences coming online, and they want to see themselves and their life experiences and the things they care about reflected in movies and TV series, and we have an opportunity to do that.”

Much of Tubi’s early work will be “listening” to consumers’ usage, reaction and input. “This is about putting the U.K. viewer at the center,” argued Sud. “Right now, our perspective is it’s day one, let’s earn the right to deeply understand this audience.”

Just like in existing markets, Tubi will concentrate much time and energy on serving fandoms. “It’s not just about the numbers and the metrics. We want to know that what we’re doing is resonating with U.K. audiences in a way that they are deeply engaged. Are we building fandoms? Are we delighting and surprising people in a way that validates our hypothesis that we’re bringing something new that’s needed? I think that is ultimately our success metric.”

Salmon echoed that. “The monetization piece for us very much as a trailing indicator of success,” he told THR. “We want people on Tubi, we want them discovering content they love, and we want them really finding a home as kind of a real mainstay of U.K. streaming services.”

So what fandoms will Tubi serve in the U.K.? “We’re coming in with hypothesis and have a sense of where there may be fandoms that are underserved. And then we’re going to listen and respond and hone from there,” Sud said. “We’ll have, I think, over 100 premium Bollywood titles. We will have a very rich Nollywood catalog. We will have a deep arthouse collection.”

But management will remain open-minded. “It’s not prescriptive,” Sud said. “It’s a bottoms-up culture, it’s not a top-down approach.”

Could U.K. original commissions lie in the future? “If we reach a level where we say, ‘Oh, the right way to serve them is that we have to produce our own content because it doesn’t exist, that’s on the table,” the CEO explained. “Where we are right now, though, we believe we have to sort of listen and earn that right and drive that adoption and engagement with our audience until we really get to a place where we know exactly what problem we’re solving with original content. For now, we’re just going to kind of focus on listening.”

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The CEO mentioned the Canadian Western horror series Wynonna Earp, which had “a massive social following” but got canceled. “We just heard so loud and clear with so much passion that there was a fandom there that really wanted more content. So we decided to put out a one-off special.”

Ensuring audiences have fun and get to see they actually want to watch is core to the Tubi value proposition. “Entertainment and streaming have just gotten too hard, and we’re missing the fun,” Sud said. “Also, we’re missing the surprise and the delight. Because right now, there’s this feeling that this is what’s the water cooler talk, and I have to watch that show, because everyone else is watching the show, because it’s supposed to be good. Actually, in our campaign for launch, our tagline is ‘Watch what you actually want to watch’.”

She joked that this may sound counterintuitive. “Just think about your own interests, your guilty pleasures and the things that you are excited to watch, rather than things a streamer told you that you should watch,” Sud summarized the message to consumers. “We get so much user feedback about how the experience feels fun, wonderful and delightful. And it’s actually because we have so much content, and we’re really good at personalizing what we show you based on what you tell us.”

That positioning is also something that the Tubi executives say they live and breathe. “Tubi’s personalization engine is really market leading and, I think, has been one of the real secrets to success,” Salmon told THR. “It is about being able to have a big catalog but then also find people the right thing at the right time to create those weird and wonderful rabbit holes, as they are called in the U.S. It’s been a real part of Tubi’s secret sauce.” Added Sud: “David likes to say we’re taking the guilt out of guilty pleasures.”

Anjali Sud

Courtesy of Tubi

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