What is Tubi? Free TV service explained

Tubi explained
(Image credit: Tubi)

Tubi is an ad-supported free streaming service that many people are curious about, especially after Fox bought Tubi for $440 million. 

Tubi offers over 20,000 free TV shows and movies to watch. Their library holds content from studios including Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate and networks including A&E, Lifetime and Starz. The company says it has 25 million active monthly viewers who spend over 160 million hours per month watching content on Tubi. 

Tubi at a Glance

Price: Free
Supported devices: Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, Smart TVs, web browsers, iPhones and iPads, Android phones and tablets, Chromecast, xfinity x1, Cox Contour,  Xbox One, Playstation 3 and 4

Tubi is one of several free streaming services, which is an expanding market. ViacomCBS bought Pluto TV last year, while Comcast bought Xumo in February 2020.

Tubi explained

Tubi is a video streaming service, not unlike Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and others, with a vast library of television shows and movies you can stream from your phone, smart TV or streaming device at no charge. The only catch is that you'll need to watch some ads while you stream its content.

Tubi price

Yes, Tubi is actually free. No lie. It might be difficult to fathom in a world dominated by fear of piracy that a streaming video service could be free and legal, but, yes, Tubi is legal.

The secret ingredient in Tubi's business model is advertising. The company is trying to use the appeal of "free" to bring more and more people to its service. It then charges advertisers to connect with those customers.

Those ads run before and during a movie or television show, so you'll definitely be seeing them often. They're not so bad, though — at 15 seconds to 30 seconds, it's not hard to get through them. However, they're unskippable, so if you try to race through them, you won't be able to.

Tubi TV and movies

Tubi's library size of more than 20,000 movies and television shows is surprisingly big for a service that hasn't yet reached mainstream status like Netflix and Hulu.

Tubi was able to amass that much content by partnering with more than 250 providers, including Hollywood heavyweights Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM. You'll also find programming from A&E, Complex Networks and others.

Tubi movies

In terms of the actual shows and films, it's a bit of a mixed bag. There are some downright popular options on the service, like Hell's Kitchen, Duck Dynasty and others. But on the movie front, you won't find the latest and greatest hits.

Tubi has a handy Most Popular section, which gives you some insight into the most well-known movies  it offers. As of this writing, the 2011 Johnny Depp film Rango is tops, followed by Pride and Glory; the documentaries Little Women: Atlanta, Lionheart, Rock Dog and Congo are also sitting at the top of the list.

You'll also find a host of categories that aim to help you find content you like. For instance, there are TV dramas, anime, "classics" for old-school favorites, and "preschool" for child-friendly programming.

Arguably, Tubi's most interesting category is "Not on Netflix," a collection of films and television shows that, for one reason or another, you can't get on Netflix. But this category is like everything else on the service, a collection of mostly misses (including Rob Schneider's The Animal and Bulletproof Monk starring Chow-Yun Fat and Seann William Scott) and a rare hit or two (such as the 2010 True Grit remake).

Tubi reviews

Tubi got a positive review over at CordCutting, which gave high marks for its interface and clever categories. The site noted that while Tubi's library is limited, compared to the big titans like Netflix, that's to be understood because it's free and meant to be supplementary material. Lifewire also recommended the service, noting how short its ad breaks are.

Tubi app

Tubi offers a slew of options for getting the service onto your TV, including apps on Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast. We've got links to all of those app stores below. Tubi is also available on the PS4 and Xbox One. And if you're a Comcast Xfinity or Tivo user, you'll find Tubi apps on those platforms, as well.

Smart TVs and Blu-ray players from Samsung and Sony also work with Tubi.

Tubi is also available via web browsers at tubitv.com. So, if you're looking to watch it from your laptop or Chromebook, head on over there and you'll find all the content you want.

On the mobile side, you'll find Tubi is available in both Apple's App Store and the Google Play marketplace, so you can access it on just about any iPhone or Android device available now.

Tubi lacks sports and live programming

Sorry, but if you're looking for live channels, you're out of luck. Tubi only provides content that's already aired or premiered on the silver screen (or your home theater).

There aren't any live sports events on the service, either. However, if you search for sports programming, you'll find some options, including Driving Sports and Sports Adventures.

Tubi flaws

If you're interested in Tubi, you might be wondering what you won't get out of the service. For one, Tubi doesn't come with much, if any, new or original content. What you'll find here is a nice library of media, but not necessarily a boatload of brand-new shows and films. And since there's no live television, Tubi doesn't come with a cloud DVR. It does, however, have a queue that will let you save stuff for easy access later on.

Tubi outlook

If you're looking to watch some older films and television shows, Tubi might be a great place to start. It's free, has plenty of shows and movies for folks interested in any genre and comes with a nice interface.

If you're someone who just enjoys content and you don't necessarily have a particular show or movie you just have to watch, you can have fun on Tubi finding programming. But if you're into the latest and greatest hits or you want to check out exceedingly popular films and television series, Tubi might not be for you.

Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.