There’s no shortage of on-demand streaming services out there, but few are like Tubi. But before you rush to ditch your Amazon Prime Video, HBO Now, and Netflix subscriptions, you’re going to want to read on to find out what Tubi is and whether it’s worth jumping ship (spoiler: it isn’t, but it’s still worth your attention).
Here’s everything you need to know about this emerging streaming service.
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that isn’t an entirely new concept — there are several tools out there that let you tap into live programming (and an outdated selection of archived material) for the low, low price of nothing per month, but Tubi deals exclusively in on-demand content.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 that are rerun on cable and other broadcast services. There’s nothing new, or exclusive on Tubi.
That’s not to say there’s nothing worth watching. Sift thoroughly enough and you’ll find the odd diamond in the rough. A quick five-minute search unearthed a number of decent flicks, including Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, The A-Team, and The Incredible Hulk. On the other hand, the list of major shows we uncovered is a lot shorter, headlined by The IT Crowd.
The catalog also isn’t available in 4K Ultra HD resolution, topping 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, if you own a (modern) device that can connect to the internet, it supports Tubi. It’s accessible through a browser on MacOS and Windows, and dedicated applications on Android and iOS; Apple TV; Amazon Fire TV, including the Amazon Fire Stick and Amazon Fire Stick 4K; Roku OS, Roku devices; and both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
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. It can also be downloaded 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.
Being free, there isn’t a whole lot to Tubi in the way of 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. Do so, and you’ll have the option to continue watching where you left off (on any device), create a queue, and receive recommendations based on your viewing habits.
You don’t get something for nothing in this world; if you want to watch a show for free, you’re going to need to sacrifice a few moments to watch an ad, 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 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 search of a gem 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 Video, 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.