LAFAYETTE, CA – Could a partnership with a consumer data agency help a fast-moving OTT TV service capitalize on an unexpected boom in viewing?

Today, Tubi announced it has done a deal with consumer credit profiling and data provider TransUnion which lets it add offline purchase and profiling data to the existing first-party data Tubi holds about its own audiences.

Such data is being seen as a valuable replacement to identifiers like third-party cookies, which are waning.

“It wasn’t just about taking data for digital individual targeting, but really understanding the households for content viewing, better discovery and of course the ad experience as well,” Tubi’s chief revenue officer Mark Rotblat says in this video with Beet.TV.

“One of our core tenets is to be the fastest path to entertainment,” he says. “We do a tremendous amount with our content viewing data to make that possible, but when you add signals about other people in the home – (like) whether there’s presence of children, information about language and other behaviors – these are things that can then be used as inputs to enhance that personalization engine, so that’s very important to us.

“We have registration data, we have content viewing data, we have information on the content and now we’ve got a great set of data about the household.”

In the announcement, TransUnion marketing solutions and media EVP Matt Spiegel says: “The integration of TransUnion data assets can help companies connect the dots to gain a more comprehensive understanding of today’s consumer and reach them with confidence – especially as they move and consume content in new ways.”

Pandemic popularity

Tubi’s leaning-in to personalization comes at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has swelled its viewership from stay-at-home consumers. Rotblat explains: “That growth has skyrocketed. The two weeks of after people started staying at home versus the prior two weeks, the growth in (viewership) was over 22%.

“In terms of new viewers, it was around 50% growth. What we’re seeing is not just more time-spent (watching) but also many, many more people joining for the first time.”

Amid the ongoing boom in subscription video services (SVoD) like Netflix and Disney+, which are cornering the market for premium catalog, we are seeing the rise of free AVoD services, with acquisitions in tow – Xumo to Comcast, Pluto TV to Viacom and Tubi to Fox.

AVoD has become a key trend just as the services found new potential customers currently locked-down at home. More than 80% of Tubi’s viewing takes place on TV sets.

Amid virus, Tubi sells

When Fox Corp agreed to buy Tubi TV in mid-March, it was on the cusp of the coronavirus pandemic.

With the $440 million transaction due to close on June 30, the deal is now noteworthy in three ways:

  • Tubi is an ad-funded (AVoD) TV service at a time when many advertisers are pulling back on spending.
  • But Tubi is also seeing dramatic growth in stay-at-home viewing numbers during the pandemic.
  • Still, consumers’ premium SVoD subscriptions may be tested in the months ahead, if economic conditions worsen, leaving free TV looking attractive.

Tubi carries a library of over 20,000 titles. Amongst recently-disclosed December stats:

  • 25 million monthly active users (up from 20 million in June).
  • 163 million hours viewed in the month (160% year-on-year).

Whilst Tubi isn’t competing with the likes of Netflix for expensive original commissions, Rotblat doesn’t see a threat – he says most Tubi viewers are also Netflix subscribers because consumers want a range of programming.