Free streaming service Tubi is growing. The company announced today it reached 25 million monthly active users as of December, up from the 20 million it reported in mid-2019. In addition, it claims users watched 163 million hours in December, up 160% year-over-year.
The company says markets outside the U.S. saw significant growth in 2019, as well, with Canada and Australia seeing a 357% increase in total view time.
Tubi says it determined the user numbers and view time by the number of unique devices that interacted with a Tubi-branded app -- it's not counting embedded players or clips, it says.
Still, Tubi appears to be claiming a significant portion of consumers' TV viewing time, if its numbers are to be believed.
It's also worth noting that December numbers tend to be strong because of the holiday season, which allows many people to have time off from work. And that means more time to watch TV.
That said, Tubi's numbers point toward increased consumer adoption of free, ad-supported streaming to complement their Netflix viewing -- especially as popular library titles depart streamers. It's also carving out a place for itself in a market where consumers are now being overrun with choice from streaming providers, which often comes at a cost.
In addition, Tubi's increased viewership likely benefited from partner integrations, which continued in 2019.
Today, Tubi is accessible on streaming devices like Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV and others, plus mobile, web and game consoles. But it has also done deals with TV providers like Comcast and Cox to bring its free streaming library to the still large pay-TV audience. And it recently announced a deal with TV manufacturer Hisense and another with Mexican broadcaster, TV Azteca, to provide Spanish-language content.
Today, Tubi works with more than 250 content partners, including Warner Bros., Paramount and Lionsgate, to fuel its service. It plans to grow that library of now 20K movies and shows in 2020 by investing more than $100 million in content.
The company additionally notes it grew its headcount by 78% from 2018 to reach 229 full-time employees by year-end.
Tubi is not without its competition, however. Platform players are moving into the free streaming market, as Roku has done with its free streaming hub The Roku Channel and Amazon has done with IMDb TV, which is offered on Fire TV and elsewhere. ViacomCBS also acquired a major player in the market with Pluto TV, and Walmart continues to run Vudu, which includes a free movie selection. Later this year, NBCU will launch its own streaming service Peacock, which will offer a free, ad-supported tier, as well.
"Our growth over the last year is a clear testament to the success of our focused strategy in a now-cluttered marketplace," said Tubi CEO Farhad Massoudi, in a statement. "We’re excited people globally have embraced Tubi as a complement to subscription video and aim to deliver an even larger library of premium content in 2020."