Tubi does have ads but the experience is pretty reasonable overall and can certainly be considered light when compared to other services, including Pluto TV. When also taking into consideration that this is a completely free streaming service, Tubi’s lighter ad frequency and duration is all the more impressive.
Free streaming services are a big deal now and there are plenty to choose from. In addition to the completely free services, some paid streaming services now also offer a free tier. Granted, these free tiers tend to be limited in comparison to their paid counterparts, but it still helps to highlight the importance of free access at a time when there are already too many subscriptions to choose from.
Without a monthly subscription payment, the main way that these services or tiers make money is through the use of ads. Officially, Tubi claims to show roughly 4-6 minutes of ads per hour. This is further explained as ad breaks occurring every 12-15 minutes and each ad break containing 3-5 ads. In our experience with Tubi, these are relatively accurate figures and a pretty good estimation of what viewers should expect.
Before taking a closer look at our experience, it is worth taking a moment to highlight that Tubi provides access to both an on-demand library and a selection of live TV channels. This is an important distinction as the ad experience on Tubi is slightly different depending on whether watching live or on demand.
Ads when watching live TV
Tubi’s real value lies in its large library of videos that can be watched at any time. However, the service does also offer a selection of curated live channels. Even though these are not comparable to an actual live TV service, they are a good way to just tune in and start watching.
The ad experience when watching any of the live channels was very consistent and in line with what you might expect with traditional live TV, albeit not quite as bad. While the actual frequency of ad breaks does depend on the channel and program watched, it is wise to expect an ad break to be shown every 15 minutes. In addition, viewers can also expect each ad break to consistently last around two minutes. Below is an example of how often the ads were shown, how many ads were shown, and the duration of each ad break after starting to watch live TV at 12:03 pm on a weekday.
|Time of ad break||Duration||Number of ads|
As shown in the table above, the ad breaks during this watch session were very consistent and always lasted approximately 2 minutes. While ad breaks would occasionally run slightly longer than 2 minutes during other watch sessions, they were never shorter than 2 minutes. In general, Tubi users should always expect ad breaks to last at least 2 minutes when watching live.
It is also worth noting that not all ad breaks actually include commercials in the traditional sense. In some cases, a ‘we’ll be back shortly‘ message is displayed instead. Sometimes, this message replaces some of the ads. Other times, the message stayed on the screen for the entirety of the ad break.
Tubi on-demand ads
Ads are also shown before and during episodes, movies, and all other on-demand videos. Typically, a brief ad break happens before the start of a video and often consists of just the one ad that lasts 15 seconds. In some cases, this pre-roll ad break might last 30 seconds, but still only consists of the one ad.
Ad breaks during the show are more substantial, but rarely, if ever, exceeded the 2-minute marker. Below is an example of the frequency and duration of ad breaks during a movie which lasted 101 minutes (excluding ads).
|Time of ad break||Duration||Number of ads|
|15 minutes||95 seconds||5|
|32 minutes||90 seconds||4|
|50 minutes||90 seconds||5|
|65 minutes||90 seconds||4|
|80 minutes||105 seconds||5|
|97 minutes||75 seconds||3|
As the table above show, the ad experience was relatively light overall. In total, there were just under 9 minutes of ads shown during the entire movie and these were broken down over 7 ad breaks. This is in contrast to the 14 minutes of ads encountered during a shorter movie watched live on Tubi.
Of course, the exact number and frequency of ads that a viewer will see when watching on-demand content will depend on the duration of the video.
The table below highlights the number of ads breaks and their duration during a range of episodes and movies that varied in length.
|Video length||Length w/ads||1st break||2nd break||3rd break||4th break||5th break||6th break||7th break|
|27 min||30 min||15 sec||135 sec|
|30 min||33 min||15 sec||135 sec|
|44 min||47 min||10 sec||120 sec||50 sec|
|55 min||60 min||30 sec||120 sec||60 sec||90 sec|
|70 min||74 min||30 sec||105 sec||45 sec||45 sec|
|83 min||87 min||15 sec||45 sec||90 sec||95 sec|
|101 min||110 min||15 sec||95 sec||90 sec||90 sec||90 sec||105 sec||75 sec|
A good and fair ad experience
Considering this is a completely free streaming service, the use of ads are to be expected, and Tubi delivers a good and fair ad experience overall. Ad breaks are not too frequent and none of them are particularly long, especially when compared to the ad breaks often encountered when watching traditional live TV.
The one downside with the ads experience is that Tubi doesn’t advise in advance as to when ad breaks are due to take place. While there is a slight warning of a few seconds right before the ad break starts, there are no indications in the video’s timeline of when ads will be shown.
Of course, as they do tend to be fairly evenly spread out, it is possible to roughly predict when the next ad break will take place based on the last.
Another downside is the repetitive nature of the ads. As is common with many ad-supported streaming services, the same ads are often shown again and again on Tubi, and even during the same video. While consumers should not expect to see the same ads during the same break (unlike with some other services), they should expect to see the same ad more than once, and especially during longer videos. Ads on Tubi also tend to be more targeted than with some other services, resulting in more local ads being shown more often.
Tubi ads summary
Tubi is a free streaming service and generates revenue through the use of ads. Although some services do go overboard with the number of ads per hour, or the frequency of ad breaks in general, Tubi doesn’t. Instead, the free streaming service provides a pretty good user experience, with ad breaks rarely lasting more than 2 minutes and regardless of whether watching live or on demand.
If currently considering giving Tubi a try and worried about the use of ads, it is easy to recommend this streaming service. In fact, if a show or movie is available to stream on multiple ad-supported services at the same time, Tubi is likely to be one of the better options in terms of the ad load, at least based on our experience.