MIPCOM ’19: Tubi expanding into UK, seeks co-existence with SVODs

With streaming still dominating many industry conversations, ad-supported, free services took center stage during a keynote titled “AVOD: The Rise of Free” in Cannes today (Oct. 14). Farhad Massoudi (pictured), founder ...
October 14, 2019

With streaming still dominating many industry conversations, ad-supported, free services took center stage during a keynote titled “AVOD: The Rise of Free” in Cannes today (Oct. 14).

Farhad Massoudi (pictured), founder and CEO of ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) service Tubi discussed how his platform is positioned to thrive in the new streaming-centric environment, and how it has already staked a major claim on viewers in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Tubi launched in 2014 and is currently the world’s largest AVOD service, available in several territories including Canada and Australia.

Massoudi pitched his platform as a technology-first enterprise, as opposed to most subscription services, which rely on original programming and exclusivity to thrive. Tubi instead provides a monetized platform, free to consumers, that allows distributors and content producers to find new avenues to reach eyeballs.

Much of his presentation stressed the inevitability of streaming as the dominant player, with the key demo of 18-34 and under abandoning traditional TV at a stunning rate (a more than 50% decrease since 2010), even with the strength of live sporting events on linear platforms.

But despite all that Massoudi doesn’t see Tubi as the inevitable king of streaming. His response when asked if he’s out to beat Netflix (or other subscription services) is no.

“We don’t compete with Netflix,” he said. “We compliment Netflix. I’m also a fan of the originals, but that’s not all of TV.”

Massoudi went on: “If you believe that the future of TV is about a small number of originals produced by a handful of subscription video on demand services, then you shouldn’t care for Tubi. You shouldn’t care for AVOD. But if you believe that the content that you guys produce and the stories you tell are relevant across the globe, and there is an audience for it, then you should seriously think about AVOD, and Tubi is the leading company in that category.”

The positioning of Tubi at MIPCOM says a lot about where the AVOD industry stands. Jim Packer, president of worldwide TV and digital distribution at Tubi partner Lionsgate, introduced Massoudi, noting not only the keynote but also Viacom’s acquisition of Pluto TV in January as signs of the strength of AVODs within the broader media landscape.

“Tubi has over 20 million monthly active users, with thousands of hours of content, and that proof of concept will translate to international markets,” said Packer.

“AVOD has become a valuable — and permanent — part of our ecosystem.”

And Tubi is growing. After expanding into Australia in May, the AVOD continues to make moves into new markets.

Tubi CCO Adam Lewinson joined Massoudi on stage to discuss the company’s content offering as well as to announce some news.

While the launch of a new Tubi Kids shingle, which Lewinson revealed in detail, is sure to turn some heads, Lewinson also said that Tubi will be making its way into the UK market in early 2020.

“We’re ramping up our international expansion with the UK launch being the first of several forthcoming territories and look forward to announcing them soon,” said Massoudi, in a statement released after the keynote.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.