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NYC TV Week: Tubi Chief Content Officer Says Release Windows Are Being Thrown Out, er, the Window’

The pandemic has signaled perhaps the final fatal disruptive blow to the structured release “windows” for movies,” according to Tubi’s chief content officer, Adam Lewinson.

Speaking at Future Media’s Spring TV Week Virtual Conference today, the veteran programming executive noted, “When I was at FX, windowing was very structured. If a movie premiered theatrically on a certain date, we’d knew exactly when we’d get it [in the pay TV window]. But I don’t know where windowing is at these days. It’s all out the window.” 

Also read: Comcast NBCU Bypassing Shuttered Theaters with Streaming Releases of ‘Trolls World Tour,’ ‘The Hunt,’ ‘The Invisible Man’ and ‘Emma’

It’s been widely reported that studios are taking new releases straight to transactional streaming platforms these days with theaters shuttered because of the pandemic. And in some cases, studios are bypassing other links in the release chain and going straight to SVOD, as was the case with Disney and Onward

Without providing any examples, Lewinson said, “There are lots of movies that very quietly premiering on Tubi, some of which are in the TVOD window, some of which are not. You have to follow the money. At the end of the day, a Warner Bros. or a Lionsgate could care less about windows. It’s who has the best dollar.” 

Before a short stint at Crackle, Lewinson spent nearly 11 years at Fox in various programming and production roles. In his keynote, he said he long believed, even before Fox’s just-closed $440 million purchase of Tubi, that the two companies match up well. 

“Before this acquisition was even a glimmer in anyone’s eye, I used to spend a lot of time talking about how the Fox audience is our audience,” Lewinson said. 

With archival seasons of the Fox reality hit The Masked Singer debuting on Tubi last week, he was asked if other Fox shows would soon wind up on the ad-supported video-on-demand platform. 

“I think it’s fair to say that The Masked Singer is foreshadowing other things to come,” he said. “Stay tuned.” 

Speaking on a broad range of topics, Lewinson conceded that while viewership is way up for Tubi amid the pandemic, the platform is in for a “rough” first quarter earnings report season given the suddenly soft state of the advertising market. 

He believes, however, that recovery could occur as soon as the fourth quarter, and that viewership for his streaming platform and others will be permanently enhanced by new viewer habits being acquired during the pandemic. 

“This won’t just disappear once the virus disappears,” he said.