26 Apr It’s Tubi’s Time. How the Weird, Free Streamer Won the Internet’s Heart. [Vulture]
April 26, 2023 | In February, as roughly 110 million football fans sweated out the final quarter of Super Bowl LVII, TV sets across America simultaneously switched away from the big game. Instead of hearing Fox announcers Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen, bewildered viewers watched as a phantom force appeared to hack their screens and begin scrolling through the tiles of a standard-issue streaming app. Only when the invisible hand clicked PLAY on the 2005 Brangelina classic Mr. & Mrs. Smith did viewers realize they were watching a clever promotional spot for Tubi, Netflix’s geekier, freakier, and totally free rival.
The ad, along with an earlier one featuring a human-size hare, was a wink at the streamer’s value proposition: its deep rabbit holes of eclectic films and series that, loyal users joke, have a tendency to swallow up your whole day(s). Instead of sinking billions into blockbuster projects boasting instantly recognizable faces, Tubi has spent the past decade quietly assembling a massive collection of movies and TV shows, sourced from virtually every major (and minor) studio out there and covering almost every conceivable genre. Just popped an edible and developed a hankering for a horror-comedy with ninja warriors and a priest who turns into a dinosaur when he’s angry? Tubi’s got something for you (it’s called The VelociPastor). Into underappreciated Black sitcoms of the ’70s that weren’t produced by Norman Lear? There’s That’s My Mama, featuring eventual TV icons Clifton Davis (Amen) and Ted Lange (The Love Boat). A recent Onion headline perfectly captured what it’s like to spend an hour scrolling through the site’s digital aisles: “Tubi CEO Combs Through Goodwill Used DVDs Looking for Movies to Upload.”