Netflix and Hulu have some new competition from free streaming services like Crackle and Pluto TV. These newer services have a different business model from the subscription systems that we’ve seen from Netflix, Hulu, and HBO NOW. Instead of offering paid memberships, Crackle and its ilk are totally free and ad-supported.
Among these new services is Tubi TV, a new but fast-growing service that recently acquired a bunch of new content from Lionsgate and MGM. Tubi TV is available for a bunch of different platforms, including a couple of the major streaming boxes. Should it be a part of your streaming arsenal? Here is our full review.
Tubi TV works like most streaming services do. You’ll get a pretty standard interface with scrollable rows of movies sorted by topics and genres. The Tubi TV catagories are pretty clever: they include “Not on Netflix” and “Highly Rated on Rotten Tomatoes,” among others. The smart choice of categories made it really easy to find the best content on Tubi TV. The service seems to be aware of the fact that most users will be turning to it as a second option after major services like Netflix, and rather than running from that, they’ve embraced it.
The interface was easy to use on all of the different platforms we tried, including the mobile apps, web app, and Roku channel. The service will remember where you left off streaming on your device, though this memory isn’t maintained when you switch devices.
Tubi TV has made some efforts to improve its content library lately, and it will surely gain some more content in the future. For now, however, the content library remains far behind what paid services like Netflix and Hulu can offer. Tubi TV offers a relatively limited selection of big-budget, well-received films. The service pads its collection with a ton of filler movies that you’re unlikely to have ever heard of. The TV show collections are similarly bursting with filler – there’s even a knock-off version of Toddlers and Tiaras called Baby Beauty Queens.
There are some spots where Tubi TV’s content library shines, however. They do well with their “Cult Favorites” category, and they have some decent documentaries, foreign films, and indie films. Clearly, Tubi TV is held back primarily by its budget and business model. It will be interesting to see how they grow their library in the coming months and years.
Streaming quality was very solid across most of the different platforms we tried. We didn’t have to deal with much buffering or loading (there were occasionally short times after the commercials). The picture isn’t always in the highest definition, but it never dips to terribly low quality, and there was no crashing during our trials. The stream was exceptionally smooth on almost every platform we tried – we observed some limited choppiness on the web app (using Wi-Fi), and that was it. We used the Verizon network and Wi-Fi when testing the mobile devices.
Tubi TV has pretty robust platform support. In addition to their web app, they offer versions for iOS, Android, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung, Xbox One, and even the old Xbox 360. We tried out Tubi TV on the web app, iOS, Android, and Roku.
Tubi TV is particularly well integrated on the Roku, where it’s a part of Roku’s universal search feature.
Tubi TV is free, of course, but you’ll pay for it in the form of ads. Ads run for a few minutes at a time and will interrupt your viewing about once every ten minutes. They’re pretty frequent, so the experience is similar to watching a movie on a television network (minus the editing, of course).
Tubi TV is still held back a bit by its content library, but the service’s clever categories (“Not on Netflix,” “Highly Rated on Rotten Tomatoes”) and its integration with Roku’s universal search make it easy to find the best it has to offer while ignoring the large amount of filler. Streaming works well, and the user interface is quite good.
Tubi TV doesn’t beat the paid streaming services, of course, but that’s not really what it’s meant to do – at least not yet. If you can stand the ads, there’s absolutely no reason not to use Tubi TV to supplement your Netflix, Hulu, or HBO subscription. We recommend this service.
Please like us on Facebook to keep up to date on what's new in the world of cord cutting: