On July 2 2024, Tubi officially launched in the UK.

Owned by the Fox Corporation, the streaming service’s promise to consumers is that they’ll never need to pay, just simply watch a few ads, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious viewers.

However, Tubi undoubtedly faces an uphill struggle to break into an already-saturated UK streaming market. It promises “a robust slate” of content. However, its current line-up leaves a lot to be desired.

Standing out from the crowd

In the UK, it often feels that you can’t move for streaming services. And the costs quickly add up, especially following recent crackdowns on password-sharing. To watch the latest shows, many consumers must subscribe to several services.

Consider a typical week for a TV fan in June and July. They might use Disney+ to watch the latest season of The Bear. Then, they could switch to Now TVand Amazon Prime Video to stream new episodes of House of the Dragon and The Boys, respectively. On top of that, many have subscriptions to Paramount+, Netflix, or Apple TV, depending on what else they’re watching. The cost of maintaining multiple subscriptions adds up, resulting in regular unsubscribing and resubscribing.

Tubi hopes to differentiate itself with its ad-supported model. Other streamers have ad-supported tiers, but these aren’t free: both Netflix and Disney+ charge £4.99 ($6.34) a month. Tubi is 100% free; you don’t need to enter any card details or even sign up—though an account allows users to use various “social” features.

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There are, of course, ads. Tubi claims that the ad breaks aren’t particularly intrusive, at “one to two minutes long, on average” every 15 minutes or so. It claims to have fewer adverts than other services, but your mileage may vary.

Tubi suffers from a dearth of content

If you can stomach the ratio of ads to content, Tubi almost sounds too good to be true. However, the UK arm of the streaming service has one gigantic problem: a lack of content.

Though it promises over 20,000 movies and TV episodes, you probably wouldn’t recognise most of them.

Scroll through any category and you’ll see a couple of genuine classics or hidden gems. It offers Tarantino’s Jackie Brown and both Kill Bill volumes, Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia, Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, and others. But these are hidden between direct-to-video Vinnie Jones action-thriller vehicles and bottom-of-the-barrel cash grabs starring Eric Roberts.

It is also annoyingly incomplete. If you wanted to watch the Child’s Play series, you can enjoy the second and third installments but would have to go elsewhere for the first film. The same is true for the Twilight series, with the 2007 original currently absent.

Ultimately, it pales in comparison to its impressive US counterpart, instead populated with titles that, years ago, would be relegated to the discount shelf at Blockbuster—albeit with a few gems mixed in.

A promising mess

Its relatively silent launch suggests that Tubi is not yet ready to take on the big boys. But it has promise.

Tubi is trying to carve out a niche. It claims it caters to previously underrepresented demographics, including younger viewers and ethnic minorities. It wants to be more targeted than other streamers, which aim for a mass market appeal. In its own words, it aims to “deliver delight beyond the monoculture.” And the service indeed contains curated collections, including Bollywood, Nollywood, K-Drama, and Black Cinema.

Whether that will be enough to help it stand out from the crowd is anyone’s guess. However, it needs to shore up its content library before taking on the UK streaming giants. As it stands, people might browse and watch a few things, most likely because it’s free and simple to use. But its lack of recognisable titles means it is unlikely to become anyone’s go-to platform.