Product Review: Tubi
Tubi is a fair, and fairly robust, streaming service. Its surprisingly deep library and canny curating make strong cases for adding the app to your arsenal.
Tubi (alternately: TubiTV) has been around since 2014, but I just barely heard about it a month ago. My bad. Tubi has a deep library, it sorts them in a plethora of interesting ways, and the ads that accompany your movie or show of choice are very reasonably implemented. It also worked flawlessly on all three devices I tried it on. Tubi’s a winner.
Tubi is a streaming platform available from the Tubi website or a downloadable application. It has apps that work with Android, iOS, Xbox, PlayStation, Roku, Xfinity, and several smart TV’s. It uses a curated homepage as well as a search functionality to deliver content. Content is provided with periodic commercial breaks. Tubi operates a real time bidding structure for advertisers to get their ads onto the platform.
Zip. Zero. Zilch. The included ads in each broadcast allow the service to remain free, and Tubi has stated that they plan to reinvest their profits in growing their library of content.
The Content/ In Action
Tubi used $25 Million dollar capital investment and the profits from 2018 to broker a deal with NBC/Universal. This added to their other arrangements with MGM, Lionsgate, Warner, Comcast and Paramount to create a vast library. Movies span all genres and time periods, and the TV on display is huge. Especially in the Anime category. Tubi’s library of Japanese Animation rivals that of dedicated services like VRV and Crunchyroll.
With great content must come great curation, and Tubi excels at curation. While the interface looks similar to that of Netflix, Hulu, and VUDU, the categories presented on their home screen are deep. You get your standard categories like New, Trending, and About to Leave; but you also get LGBTQ+, Black Cinema, and even a very cheeky “Not on Netflix” category. It even has a category that presents films that reviewed well on Rotten Tomatoes. Nice! Their search engine is robust as well. A search term will not only generate results that have the exact term in it, but it often generates movies that are thematically compatible with the search term. All in all, it makes finding something to scratch a particular itch very easy.
I tested the devise on three platforms: the website (via laptop), the Android app, and the Xbox One app. All three worked very well. Resuming partially watched content was a breeze, and all three had almost zero buffering or losses of film fidelity. From movies to TV, everything came up crisp and quickly. And the ads are very reasonably paced; an hour and a half movie netted me a total of 4 breaks (equaling 12 adds), and 20 minute TV shows got me one add break (there might have been a second one right before the end credits, but I always skip those). I watched content from the 60’s, 70’s, 90’s, and 2010’s, and it was all as crisp as could be hoped for. It doesn’t appear that they support 4K as of yet, but maybe another profitable year could see that investment being made.
Tubi is an excellent supplement to the major premium streaming services. The selection is great and easy to get at. The ads are much less intrusive than cable TV. The quality of the streaming itself seems top notch, with hardly any quality issues resulting from either which app is used or the internet connection. I watched two movies on free Hotel wi-fi and I had zero issues, so people on the lower end of the bandwidth spectrum will love this service. It doesn’t have brand spanking new movies or live TV synchronization, hence the caveat about Tubi being a supplement. If you have to have something as soon as it has left theaters, VUDU, HBO, or Redbox are going to serve you better. Likewise, if you need to see your anime or favorite network show ASAP, Hulu and Crunchyroll will be your mains.
But if you like a lot of no-cost, no-hassle entertainment, I’d heartily recommend Tubi.