Tubi Officially Launches in U.K., Bringing Movie Library ’10 Times Bigger’ Than Local Networks (and Including its Drag Queen Vampire Horror)

Tubi has officially launched in the U.K., marking the most significant overseas expansion for the free, ad-supported streaming service.

The Fox-owned AVOD platform is heading across the Atlantic with more than 20,000 movies and TV episodes on-demand, featuring content from the likes of Disney, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal and Sony Pictures, as well as its slate of Tubi Originals.

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“Outside of North America, this is a big one,” Tubi CEO Anjali Sud told Variety ahead of the launch.

The expansion — which had been touted last year when it hired the U.K.-based ex-Endeavor exec David Salmon as head of international — comes at a time of impressive audience figures, with Tubi now the fastest growing U.S. streaming service.

In May, it had its most-watched month ever according to Nielsen, up 46 percent on a year earlier with an average audience of 1 million viewers, edging out Disney+, comfortably beating Peacock, Max and Paramount+ and topping fellow free streamers the Roku Channel and Pluto TV. It now sits behind only YouTube’s viewers in the free ad-supporting streaming world.

According to Sud, the U.K. market — where public service broadcasters such as the BBC and ITV dominate the free streaming space — is one where certain audiences, particular younger and multicultural audiences, have been underserved by a traditional ecosystem looking to cater to as many people it can at once.

“Similar to the U.S., there’s been a natural need to revert to the median, to focus on mass appeal, and that’s very hard when you have such a diverse melting pot of a country, with incredibly diverse tastes and perspectives,” she said.

With that in mind, Sud said the U.K. launch would feature a movie collection “10 times bigger than other broadcasters,” including more than 100 premium Bollywood titles, more than 100 premium Nollywood titles and a “rich catalog” in art house.

But then it will also lean into the “weird, wonderful and colourful” content that has done well for the platform in the U.S., especially from its growing library of Tubi Originals. Sud touted “Slay,” a “drag queen vampire horror” feature, and its X-rated reality series “House of Heat,” in which a group on OnlyFans creators move into together to grow each other’s online businesses.

Outside the U.S., Tubi has so spent the last decade launching in Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama. Despite recent talk about its international expansion, Sud said the U.K. launch wouldn’t be immediately followed by news of Tubi’s arrival in further European territories.

The expansion actually marks a return for Tubi in the U.K., with the platform having pulled out of the territory and the rest of Europe in 2018 due to the EU’s strict General Data Protection Regulation rules. Having since left the EU, GDPR rules no longer apply in the U.K.

“There have certainly been attempts to dip our toe in the U.K. in the past, but we haven’t ever, in a committed intentional full way, officially launched,” said Sud. “And as you would imagine, we have done a ton of work to ensure that we are in compliance with all regulations, including GDPR. And most importantly we have a really robust offering that we think is needed. So this is our first official attempt and I think we’ll be successful.”

To support its U.K. launch, Tubi is rolling out an ad campaign later in July that takes aim at perceived snobbery in the entertainment world, with posters and commercials encouraging people to “watch what you actually want to watch,” rather than more high-brow content they believe they should be watching.

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