Tubi TV Goes Big With Free VOD

Tubi TV will be going after Crackle’s market with the debut of a free, ad-supported VOD service that will initially be offered on Roku devices, the new Amazon Fire TV box, and the Xbox 360 and start with about 3,000 movies and TV titles.

Tubi TV, a product of adRise, a company that specializes in OTT content distribution and ad platforms that counts Starz Digital Media among its partners, plans to expand its VOD library and the number of devices supported in the weeks and months ahead.

The near term plan, company execs said, is to offer about 20,000 titles on its platform this year or sometime in 2015,  and to extend access in the coming months to Web browsers, Android- and iOS-powered tablets and smartphones, the Google Chromecast, Kindle Fire tablets, Samsung and Sony smart TVs, TiVo devices and the WD TV streaming player.

“We’re trying to elevate the amount of quality content that’s available for free” using a “no barrier to entry” model, adRise CEO Farhad Massoudi said, noting that the goal is to complement, rather than compete with,  subscription-based services like Hulu Plus and Netflix.

Tubi TV’s focus, he said, will be on free, high-quality content, including titles out of the U.K. and other parts of the world that will be new to U.S. audiences. Tubi TV’s business is based on a revenue sharing model.

Tubi TV said its library is made up of films, cartoons and other kids fare, comedy, cooking shows, documentaries, and fitness programs, among other themes. Specific shows include “British TV and Nordic Noir” such as Black Books, Father Ted, and The Sandhamn Murders.

AdRise, a company launched about three and half years ago, has a heritage of enabling branded VOD apps for companies such as Starz, Discovery Communications and Hasbro Studios, and estimates that about 30% of the VOD apps on the Samsung platform are managed by AdRise. It has also managed and built several apps for the new Amazon Fire TV box.

With Tubi TV, it’s now starting to leverage its historic relationships with programmers and studios, including ITV of the U.K. and South Korean major broadcaster MBC, and apply content distribution deals toward its new direct-to-consumer service.

Historically AdRise has implemented campaigns for more than 200 brands in the past year, including Lexus, said Thomas Ahn Hicks, head of business and development and strategy, noting that Tubi TV will offer a mix of direct sales and a more programmatic model that uses a real-time bidding system.

As for the ad load, Tubi TV expects to halve the seven or eight minutes per half hour seen on traditional TV, he said.

“We think all TV ads ultimately will be targeted, measurable and interactive,” Massoudi said.

San Francisco-based AdRise has raised $4 million and has about a dozen employees. Massoudi said the company has turned profits at times, but is now “investing heavily into Tubi TV right now.”