Fox launches free Netflix rival ‘Tubi’ in UK

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Corporation is entering the UK’s highly competitive free, ad-supported video streaming market. Tubi will compete with the likes of Netflix, Disney+, ITVX, and Channel 4’s streaming platform, as well as the BBC iPlayer. The platform has been quickly gaining market share in the US where, according to Fox, it has almost 80 million monthly active users.

In the UK, Tubi says it will launch with more than 20,000 films and TV series, including content from Disney, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal, and Sony Pictures Entertainment. The platform will also include a selection of British, Indian, and Nigerian content. UK viewers will be able to access content on the Tubi webpage, via a smartphone app, and on smart TVs.

“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 UK audiences,” Tubi chief executive Anjali Sud said. Fox Corporation bought Tubi in 2020 for $440m (£348m) as the US media giant looked to attract younger audiences.

In recent years, streaming companies like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ have launched ad-supported services and raised subscription prices as they tried to boost revenues. The moves came as they faced pressure to spend more money to grow their libraries of content as they try to attract more customers in an increasingly competitive market.

Abi Watson, senior media analyst at Enders, told the media that while Tubi had “been very successful in the US,” the UK was a “very different media environment.” “It is already well-catered for in the free online video space as the public service broadcasters have invested heavily,” she added. She said a service with “little or no unique content” such as Tubi could find it difficult to gain traction – although efforts by foreign operators to break into the UK’s free video streaming market had “so far been half-hearted.”

In March, Mr. Murdoch’s TalkTV network announced that it would stop broadcasting as a terrestrial television channel and become a strictly online service. The network launched in 2022 but struggled to attract viewers on its linear platform. Mr. Murdoch had hoped the network would shake up the broadcasting establishment by offering an opinion-led alternative to established outlets.

The media tycoon played a pivotal role in the development of the UK’s broadcasting industry by launching Sky in 1984. Some commentators saw TalkTV as an attempt by Mr. Murdoch to recreate his success with Sky. Mr. Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox sold its 39% stake in Sky to NBCUniversal’s owner Comcast in 2018 after losing a bidding battle for the network.

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