The Grill 2019: “They’ve really validated the space and they’ve helped educate”
Tubi’s chief content officer, Adam Lewinson, isn’t sweating competition in the ad-supported video space, not even from powerhouses like Amazon and Roku. In fact, he said Wednesday that Roku’s entrance into the ad space has helped Tubi.
“What I think The Roku Channel has done is they’ve validated the space and they’ve helped educate [consumers] through some of the Roku boxes,” Lewinson said during a panel on streaming at The Grill, TheWrap’s annual business and entertainment conference.
He added that Roku’s move into ad-supported streaming has helped educate consumers about the medium — “and we get them over to Tubi and they don’t leave,” he added.
Launched in 2014, Tubi has a library of more than 12,000 movies and television shows and roughly 40,000 hours of content. At the start of the year, the company reported a 180% year jump in ad revenue for 2018 and a 400% increase in the amount of content watched on the platform. (It didn’t disclose specifics).
Still, the company is facing its toughest year of competition yet. In addition to Amazon’s recently launched AVOD service Freedive, both Roku and Amazon Fire TV are partnering with TV manufacturers so that TVs arrive with the streaming services’ hardware already installed.
But the rapid rise in connected devices isn’t anything new, Lewinson said.
“We’ve grown exponentially on Roku devices since they’ve launched The Roku Channel,” he explained. “It hasn’t impacted us. Perhaps it’s even helped us. Because at the end of the day, our product is different and the goals that they have are very different.”
“I think part of it, just on the platform side, is about what you’re building,” he continued. “And if what you’ve built is something that’s next to impossible for anybody else to build, okay, go ahead and have some competition.”
Lewinson argues that Roku and Amazon need Tubi just as much as Tubi needs them, which has resulted in a fairly “friendly” relationship.
“They do a really great job of putting up a line that they don’t cross because they know if [Tubi] disappears from the Roku boxes, if Netflix disappears from the Roku boxes, over time their stock price could start to go in another direction,” he said. “So we all need each other, there’s an ecosystem… Things are quite friendly.”