Tubi to Double Down on Originals, But Don't Look for Live Sports or Int'l Expansion Anytime Soon

Tubi original comedy 'The Freak Brothers'
(Image credit: Fox)

Seemingly besotted during every Fox Corp. quarterly earnings report with explosive revenue-growth figures and various other forms of CEO Lachlan Murdoch's bullish cheerleading, it's plenty clear that Tubi is a core asset for Fox moving forward.  

But it was refreshing to a get a more sober vantage of the free, ad-supported service, poised to generate as much as $700 million in ad revenue this year, from Fox's measured and monotoned COO, John Nallen.

Speaking Tuesday at Deutsche Bank's 30th annual Media, Internet & Telecom Conference, Nallen gave as clear of an indicator as you're likely going to find as to what Tubi is and isn't for Fox. 

For starters, Nallen dismissed the notion that the streaming service will soon emerge as a distribution hub for Fox's live sports. 

Nallen said Fox's core business remains providing broadcasters, and the MVPD distributors who pay retrans and carriage fees for Fox broadcast and cable channels, with a "guarantee" that Fox live NFL, MLB and NASCAR content isn't "leaking into a free distribution environment somewhere else."

Fox has put local news on Tubi, as well as sports shows from FS1, Nallen conceded. "But I don't see Tubi being a platform for us for live news and sports," he added. 

Fox COO John Nallen

Fox Corp. COO John Nallen. (Image credit: Deutsche Bank)

Nallen also made clear that Tubi isn't a linear streaming service, but a pure-play ad-supported video-on-demand platform (AVOD). 

Its focus will remain "deep library" content," Nallen explained.

"We’re not buying first-run product, which is going to places like Hulu or their own D2C products," he said. 

Original shows like the animated series The Freak Brothers and true-crime show Meet, Marry, Murder will have an increasing role in the Tubi programming mix. 

“We put 40 new originals on Tubi in the last year, and we’ll probably double that number next year," Nallen said. 

But don't look for big-budget premium original shows like you find on the major SVOD services. 

The lion's share of our programming will be deep library programming, augmented by originals, but not at the scale we're seeing at SVOD. We're not promoting A Handmaid's Tale or Yellowstone," Nallen said 

Nallen added that Tubi has expanded its library by 60%, to around 41,000 titles, since Fox purchased the streaming startup for $441 million two years ago. And Tubi is still able to license 95% of its shows on a revenue-share basis, he said. 

And don't expect a major expansion for Tubi into Europe anytime soon.

For now, Nallen said, Tubi's concentration will remain in the U.S., although it's also distributed in Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and Canada. 

"The growth opportunity for us in the U.S. is still significant," he said.

Tubi will retain its limited ad load of 4-6 minutes per hour of programming, an aspect that "makes the service unique, given that some of our competitors deliver double or triple the amount of advertising," Nallen said.

With the overall AVOD category expected to expand its collective revenue by 4x over the next four year, Nallon also noted, "that kind fo growth will outpace any other growth we'd have in any other asset. 

"Tubi is a core business for Fox," he said. 

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!