Tubi, a free San Francisco-based streaming site, is hoping to raise its profile with a new advertising campaign starting Monday with cheeky commercials appealing to viewers with subscription fatigue.
Unlike its better-known rivals, such as CBS All Access, Amazon Prime Video or Hulu, Tubi does not produce original programs and readily admits it lacks the top 1% of licensed shows, such as “Friends” or “The Office.” But it’s betting that its biggest selling point — the service is free, with commercials — and the availability of popular comfort TV shows such as the 2017 season of “The Bachelorette” will gain converts.
“This ad campaign is really about positioning Tubi as that prescription for your subscription fatigue,” Emily Jordan, Tubi’s vice president of marketing, said in an interview.
In one ad, actor Chris Noth, who portrays Mr. Big in the HBO series “Sex and the City,” talks about how HBO was his first love and now he’s feeling guilty. “It’s so confusing — the Max, the Go,” Noth complains. But then, he discovers Tubi, where he can watch programs for free, including ones that are not on Netflix.
Tubi in June said it has more than 20 million monthly active users and more than 15,000 movies and TV series in its library.
On its service, there is a category called “Not on Netflix” that highlights programs that aren’t on Netflix. Those movies include “Dances With Wolves” and the drama “Side Effects.”
Part of Tubi’s campaign will feature billboards in places including Los Angeles and New York City, directing people to “NotonNetflix.com,” along with the words, “All’s Fair in Love & Streaming.” The website features the commercials and ways for consumers and advertisers to learn more about Tubi.
The videos featuring Noth and other celebrities will be on YouTube, Facebook and other sites. Tubi declined to say how much it is spending on the ads.
Ira Kalb, an assistant professor of clinical marketing at USC’s Marshall School of Business, said he believes it could be a mistake for Tubi to mention other streaming brands.
“You’re giving them free advertising,” Kalb said.
But Tubi said that it does not see Netflix as a direct competitor. The thinking is that consumers will use more than one streaming service and will be attracted to its free price. Nearly 70% of Tubi’s customers also watch Netflix.
A spokesman said the company mentioned Netflix and HBO Max in the ads as examples of the streaming wars and that it’s fine if the ads are viewed as free advertising for them because Tubi sees itself as complementary to those subscription services.