5 Questions With Farhad Massoudi, Founder and CEO of Tubi

Massoudi discusses the importance of ad-supported streaming services and the problem with them focusing too much on original content

Farhad Massoudi is the founder and CEO of Tubi, which launched in 2014 with the goal of offering premium television and movies for free. Since the platform’s launch, Massoudi has worked to bridge the gap between Silicon Valley and Hollywood by building Tubi as a technology-first over-the-top (OTT) streaming service, using its proprietary content personalization engine to reach a mass audience with individualized and tailored content.

Under Massoudi’s leadership, the streamer has built relationships with Hollywood studios, networks and production companies, allowing Tubi to compile one of the largest libraries of film and TV content across all genres. The company currently has partnerships with Lionsgate, MGM and Paramount, among others.

Today, Tubi is one of the only free streaming services using proprietary technology to personalize the viewing experience. Currently the ad-supported streaming platform boasts more monthly titles than Netflix and is consistently ranked as the top rated free streaming app on platforms including iOS and Android.

This week we caught up with Massoudi to discuss the future of the streaming industry, Tubi’s past partnership with Hulu, and the problem with ad-supported video services focusing too much on original content.

How important will ad-supported video on-demand (AVOD) be in the future of OTT video?

AVOD is the unequivocal future for content creators, providers and brands. With the saturation of subscription streaming services, AVOD will increasingly be used as a complementary service to consumers’ favorite SVODs in order to access more of their favorite content, without paying more.

Other major players have recently entered the market, which only further validates how disruptive ad-supported video on demand is. The industry continues to experience rapid adoption of ad-supported video by customers, either as a standalone service, or as a complement to existing subscription-based streaming services. In fact, 87 percent* of consumers originally cut the cord due to price, and now OTT services are starting to add up as streaming services continue to raise monthly subscription prices.

*Source: Research Intelligencer and Pollfish survey of 400 U.S. adults. Conducted June 19, 2018.

Earlier this year, Tubi inked a content deal with Hulu that saw several of the streamer’s shows — like “The Mindy Project” — become available for free on Tubi. How does this partnership benefit Hulu, which typically houses its content behind a paywall?

Our mission at Tubi is to provide more access to more content. We want to democratize entertainment, and make premium content more accessible, more tailored and more affordable for our viewers. A partnership with Hulu was an obvious choice for us, as their standout shows are well-loved by our audiences. For our content partners, our goal at Tubi is to provide them more outlets and opportunities to showcase their amazing shows and movies to a broader, engaged audience. That has been the case with Hulu.

Tubi launched its content personalization engine almost one year ago. How has it impacted consumer behavior and business of the overall platform?

We’ve seen some incredible results since the launch of the content personalization engine.  One of the biggest and most consistent challenges with streaming is content discovery. How many times have you sat down to watch something after dinner, only to find that you’ve spent thirty minutes flipping through your streaming service of choice without making a decision?

Our goal is to share the right content for each viewers, in the shortest amount of time — with our Content Personalization Engine, we’ve been successfully leveraging data and machine learning to provide the fastest path to getting you the content you want to watch, and it only gets smarter and more accurate as our viewers spend more time on the platform. Overall, our viewers are coming back more frequently, are significantly more active when they return, and watch movies and TV shows for longer.

In August, Tubi made the decision to launch its own (free) version of Amazon Channels. Why is aggregation of OTT channels important and how does it benefit Tubi?

With so many amazing shows and movies available to stream nowadays, it can be incredibly difficult to decide on what to watch – dedicated channels make that process easier for viewers. TubiChannels allow viewers to easily find and watch their favorite movies and TV shows from brands they love. Working in tandem with Tubi’s ML-powered Content Personalization Engine, TubiChannels aid in personalized content discovery based on channel preference, and help viewers find new, relevant brands. Tubi viewers who love a certain brand’s content can then explore all of its titles and TV shows on each channel’s dedicated landing page.

On the content partner side, we’re in an age when many streaming services are downplaying brand awareness for content owners — we’re doing the opposite. With Tubi Channels, we’re giving content brands more exposure on the Tubi platform, while providing audiences with the fastest path to the content they want to watch. Finding the right audiences in the increasingly fragmented OTT space is incredibly hard, so Tubi Channels makes that process significantly easier for our content partners. Our partners are able to scale content distribution to reach new audiences and monetize IP. Our partner relationships our absolutely critical for the success and growth of the company, so anything that helps our content partners benefits Tubi and its viewers.

What do you think of other AVOD services — like Crackle and Vudu — pushing into the production of original content?

As streaming services shift their focus to original content, their content libraries tend to shrink — take Netflix for example. Its library has shrunk dramatically as it’s moved into creating originals. However, they can clearly afford to take that risk as the largest streaming service provider on the market.  Original content takes a large investment and should be reserved for the massive players who can compete at the highest costs. In my opinion, original content for free VOD players is a huge mistake and destined to fail. At Tubi, we’ve always been in the business of providing the largest library of free movies and TV shows to viewers, so our company is taking a different approach entirely, and we have no plans to produce our own content.