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Tubi TV’s huge catalog of ad-supported content has some hidden gems
You won’t find the latest hit TV shows, but you can revisit a few classics.
Everybody wants to stream their favorite shows and movies, but nobody wants to pay for the access. As Netflix beefs up its library of original content and Hulu continues to deliver critically acclaimed series, it can feel like there’s no way to enjoy TV without caving and paying for a subscription of your own. But before you fish your credit card out of your wallet, make sure to check out Tubi TV, a free, ad-supported streaming service that makes a solid alternative to the major streaming services, depending on your tastes—and read on to find the best movies on Tubi.
What is Tubi TV?
Similar to Crackle, Tubi TV is a completely ad-supported movie and TV streaming service. Since launching in 2014, the company has partnered with Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Lionsgate, and Starz. These partnerships account for Tubi TV’s robust library of more than 50,000 titles—the second largest only to Netflix of all streaming services—with new titles being added every week.
Is Tubi TV free?
Yes, Tubi TV is absolutely free. There’s no paywall or premium account upgrade required; it’s free for as long as viewers use the service. In exchange for unlimited free content, users only have to watch a few short ads before and during a movie or TV show.
The frequency of these ads varies. Typically a 30-second commercial will play before a movie or show, and some TV shows will play two shorter commercials back-to-back in the middle of an episode. On the other hand, some movies might not play any ads for the first 45 minutes while others will show them at 12- or 15-minute intervals. These ads can be frustrating, but look at it this way: At least you’re not paying for the service. (What’s Hulu’s excuse?)
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How does Tubi TV work?
Ease of access is crucial in the streaming marketplace, and Tubi TV is available on nearly every platform and device. Viewers can watch Tubi via the company’s website, or they can download apps on their smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and video game consoles. Tubi TV can also be streamed via Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, and TiVo.
Once you download the Tubi TV app or visit the website, you’ll be asked to make a basic account or log in with Facebook. (You can watch certain titles without an account, but all R-rated or “mature” content will require one.) Once you sign in for the first time, the app will ask you to choose some favorites from a small list of movies and shows in order to make personalized suggestions for you.
Tubi TV is fairly easy to navigate on desktop and mobile. Its sleek, economical design includes a drop-down menu with dozens of genres and subgenres, along with several different categories to scroll through à la Netflix. The video quality varies from title to title; some programs play in HD, while others go all the way down to 360p. Oh, and if you’re using the Tubi TV website, make sure you disable your ad blocker.
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The Best Movies on Tubi
If you’re logging into Tubi TV hoping to check out the latest binge-worthy shows or Oscar-nominated movies, you’ll want to reconsider. Tubi has no original content and few new releases, focusing instead on titles from decades past. The “Most Popular” section will make you wonder if users were bored, morbidly curious, or genuinely interested. It’s hard to imagine a ton of people choosing to watch Beauty Shop, Tekken, or Robocop 2, but hey, to each their own.
In all seriousness, Tubi does have a solid selection of ‘80s, ‘90s, and early 2000s movies, even if you have to wade through a good deal of flops to find them. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, School of Rock, and Crocodile Dundee are guaranteed to offer big laughs—probably more so than Stan Helsing, The Slammin’ Salmon, and Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging. Meanwhile, the drama section offers some 2000s gems such as World Trade Center and True Grit (the 2010 version). And if you’re a glutton for punishment, you can check out the campy eroticism of Showgirls.
Tubi TV offers a healthy selection of comedies and dramas, while other sections, such as horror and thriller, leave a lot to be desired. Still, there’s plenty to enjoy on the platform if you’re willing to check out some blasts from the past. Here are five movies on Tubi TV worth watching.
5 Tubi movies worth checking out
1) Sound City
Is there anything Dave Grohl doesn’t do? The Foo Fighters frontman/former Nirvana drummer/Paul McCartney collaborator makes his directorial debut with Sound City, a documentary that explores the history of the legendary Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California. Nestled among rows of warehouses, the unassuming studio welcomed rock & roll icons like Neil Young, Tom Petty, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers through its doors. After Sound City shuttered in 2011, Grohl moved its analog Neve recording console to his own Studio 606 to keep the magic alive. Several Sound City alumni convene at Studio 606 to cut a new album using the Neve console and hold a once-in-a-lifetime jam session.
2) After Porn Ends
“Can they really live a normal life after porn?” reads the tagline for the 2012 documentary directed by Bryce Wagoner. After Porn Ends follows several former pornographic actors and actresses as they try to transition into new, more socially acceptable careers after leaving the industry. Many of these people started working in porn as a way to escape broken homes and scrape together money, but even after turning themselves into successful businesspeople, they still face career obstacles and emotional trauma.
3) Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
It’s amazing what you can do when you’re on a project deadline. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure follows its two titular, slacker protagonists as they travel through time via phone booth to pluck historical figures from centuries past and bring them back for a history presentation. Just as Bill and Ted get a crash course in world history, Napoleon Bonaparte, Billy the Kid, Socrates, Sigmund Freud, and Abraham Lincoln get a lesson in navigating the local mall and waterpark.
4) School of Rock
Jack Black’s manic energy finds its perfect outlet in Richard Linklater’s music school comedy. Black plays a professional layabout who steals a subbing job from his nebbish roommate (Mike White, who also wrote the script) and ends up teaching a class of young musical prodigies. Of course, the students end up teaching Black as much about life as he teaches them about Led Zeppelin. It’s a crowd-pleaser through and through, with equal amounts of laughs and heart and, most importantly, a great rock show at the end. —Eddie Strait
5) True Grit (2010)
John Wayne and Glen Campbell left some big shoes to fill in 1969’s True Grit, the first movie adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel. So for the 2010 remake, the Coen Brothers teamed up with executive producer Steven Spielberg and enlisted an all-star cast including Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin. Mattie Ross (a teenaged Hailee Steinfeld) hires Cogburn (Bridges) to catch Tom Chaney (Brolin), an outlaw who murdered her father. They link up with a Texas Ranger named LaBeouf (Damon), and the ensuing adventure tests their “true grit.” They learn a lot about each other—and even more about themselves.
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Tubi TV shows
Tubi’s worrisome list of most popular TV shows includes Duck Dynasty, Storage Wars: Texas, and Cajun Pawn Stars, not to mention two Gordon Ramsey shows: Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares. Fans of ridiculous reality dating shows will be delighted to find Flavor Flav’s Flavor of Love and Bret Michaels’ Rock of Love in the same place. Anime fans can check out Yu-Gi-Oh! and Naruto, while comedy enthusiasts can find everything from Cheers to British raunch-comedy The Inbetweeners. And for folks truly willing to try anything, there’s always The Wahlburgers and Alf.
Netflix has made a concerted effort lately to increase its library of original content, including several critically acclaimed TV series such as Master of None, LOVE, and Dear White People. Tubi TV obviously can’t compete on that front, but in terms of quantity and variety, there’s a lot of TV shows from yesteryear worth checking out at no cost. Here are five Tubi TV series worth perusing during your next binge:
5 Tubi TV shows worth checking out
Masashi Kishimoto’s popular Japanese manga received an English TV adaptation in 2005, running on Cartoon Network for four years. After a powerful fox named Nine-Tails attacks the small village of Konoha, its leader seals the fox inside his son, Naruto Uzumaki. The townspeople revile Naruto, but he still trains with the dream of becoming the Hokage, the strongest ninja in Konoha.
2) The IT Crowd
Step into the dingy basement of London’s Reynholm Industries, home to three dysfunctional members of the staff’s IT department: Maurice Moss, Roy Trenneman, and Jen Barber. Roy compulsively ignores the phones, Moss doesn’t know how to communicate with other human beings, and Jen doesn’t know a thing about tech. They don’t necessarily stay busy, but at least they stay entertained.
3) The Inbetweeners
British sitcom The Inbetweeners follows four nerdy suburbanites—Will, Simon, Neil, and Jay—as they endure the social hurdles of high school and try to navigate the transition from boyhood to manhood. The only problem is, they have no idea how to be men at all. The lads constantly strike out with girls, piss off their teachers and parents, and hurl childish insults at each other. In the end, all they’ve got is their own sense of fraternity—sucks to be them.
Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright helms this British sitcom about Daisy Steiner (Jessica Stevenson) and Tim Bisley (Simon Pegg), two desperate 20-somethings who masquerade as a couple so they can move in together despite having just met. As they figure out how to live a new life together, they predictably start to fall for each other, even as they insist otherwise to their friends.
5) Dog the Bounty Hunter
After he made international news for capturing fugitive and convicted rapist Andrew Luster in 2003, Duane Lee “Dog” Chapman gave viewers a glimpse into his unorthodox line of work in his own reality TV series, Dog the Bounty Hunter. The show chronicles Dog’s exploits in Hawaii and his home state of Colorado as he tracks down criminals who have broken the terms of their bail. Dog often drops his tough-guy act to counsel the fugitives and encourage them to turn their lives around.
Should you try Tubi TV?
Look, it’s kind of difficult not to recommend a free streaming service. If you care about the latest TV shows and original content from the paid services, then you’ve probably already bought subscriptions for them. But if you’re looking to supplement your streaming library and check out some oft-forgotten movies and TV shows from the ’80s and ’90s, there’s nothing to lose by poking around on Tubi TV for a few minutes. Those minutes could turn into hours if something strikes your fancy, which could make your Tubi TV browsing time well spent.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
Bryan Rolli is a reporter who specializes in streaming entertainment. He writes about music and film for Forbes, Billboard, and the Austin American-Statesman. He met Flavor Flav in two separate Las Vegas bowling alleys and still can’t stop talking about it.