Tubi Becomes the First Streamer to Pair Search With AI

With the launch of ChatGPT’s Rabbit AI, searching for what to watch just got a lot more advanced

Tubi TV
Image of Tubi TV (Photo Credit: Tubi)

As big of a threat as artificial intelligence is to TV and film, there’s one place where nearly everyone can agree it may be beneficial: sorting through a streamer’s seemingly endless library. That’s exactly the strategy Tubi has launched with Rabbit AI, the ad-supported streamer’s collaboration with ChatGPT.

It also marks the first time a streamer has officially partnered with AI to enhance its search.

Currently, Tubi uses traditional search and discovery tools to catalog its content. Users basically enter in a keyword and, as long as a title is indexed correctly, a corresponding title appears from that search. The streamer also uses machine learning to create containers of genres and subgenres that may be of interest to users.

“Over the past 20 years or so, people have been conditioned to using an unnatural and unhuman way of searching for content with keywords. It’s like fragments of speech to try to hone in on what you want to see,” Blake Bassett, Tubi’s senior director of product management, explained. “With Rabbit AI, you can tell it exactly what you want to see. You can tell it exactly how you’re feeling and receive results that are compelling to you.”

Say you were in the mood to watch a lighthearted show or movie featuring sharks. If you used traditional search, you would probably search “shark,” and your results would likely include any show or movie that had the word “shark” in the title. A more advanced indexing system may also include titles that feature all sea creatures. But by using Rabbit AI, you can type in “funny movies featuring sharks” and get more specific, tonally accurate results such as “Sharknado.”

Tubi launched the beta test for Rabbit AI Tuesday. At the moment, it’s unknown how long this test will last, but it will continue to be rolled out in the coming weeks, which will give the feature time to improve. “The good news is that our users will have access to both a keyword search and Rabbit AI for the foreseeable future,” Bassett said.

This beta test will be available to a majority of iOS users in the Apple App Store as well as all paying subscribers to ChatGPT as a plug-in. It’s been estimated this first run will include roughly two-thirds of all of Tubi’s users. That likely includes more people than you realize.

In early September, Tubi surpassed 74 million monthly active users, making it the most-watched ad-supported TV streaming service in the U.S. The streamer also logged 4 billion streaming hours in the first half of 2023. According to Nielsen’s July 2023 The Gauge report, Tubi accounted for 1.4% of total TV viewing time, putting it right before Max and right above Peacock, Roku and Paramount+.

“If you want to watch something that everyone’s talking about on Sunday, you might be finding that on a paid subscription service. We are not trying to compete at that level. We understand who we are and what we provide,” Dana Balch, director of consumer and product communications at Tubi, told TheWrap. “We’re a place for people to explore their interests more deeply, thanks to the vastness of our catalog, and to find content that feels new to you.”

Just because Rabbit AI has already started its beta that doesn’t mean the test is being completely run by machines. Representatives for Tubi assured TheWrap that the company has been “very intentional” about keeping humans in the loop when it comes to classifying its micro genres. This is to make sure these emerging tags fit with their labelled content. It’s also to ensure subscribers aren’t presented with a questionable search options, such as when Netflix gave “Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” an LGBTQ tag.

If this beta test proves to be a success, it won’t just be good for consumers who don’t know what to watch. Because Rabbit AI will improve Tubi’s metadata on the back end and give the platform a better ability to assess consumer mood and movement, this tool will ultimately help the platform’s advertisers as well.

As Bassett dubs it, the Tubi team is solving for “the burden of choice.”

“We see that viewers spend, on average, more than 10 minutes just figuring out what they want to watch. I believe that amounts to about 45 hours a year. People spend an entire week of work, just figuring out what to watch,” Bassett said. “We have to be really good at finding that needle in a haystack. That’s why we’re really excited to announce the very first ChatGPT-enabled content discovery experience”


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