ASO Teardown - Tubi Owns Movies, but Can It Take on Netflix?

Ariel Ariel
7 minute read 3/23/21

Welcome to App Teardowns, a series where we analyze the strategies apps and games use to gain visibility and downloads on the App Store and Google Play, their performance, and competition.

ASO Teardown - Tubi Owns Movies, but Can It Take on Netflix?

The unbundling of cable has created a lot of stand-alone streaming apps, some more popular than others, but it also created a mess that we as viewers now have to maintain a bunch of different subscriptions separately, which isn't convenient or ideal.

Then there are a few apps that seem like all the other streamers, but while they have the content, they are completely free, much like over-the-air TV is. We looked at one of those in season two, and today we're looking at another: Tubi.

Overall, Tubi earns an A-. There are some obvious issues, but also some results.

Tubi by the Numbers

Here's how Tubi is performing in the U.S. App Store, based on our Competitor Intelligence:

  • ๐Ÿ“ˆ 606.4K estimated downloads in the last 30 days.
  • #๏ธโƒฃ 8 in the Entertainment category.
  • โญ๏ธ 67% of 941 new ratings were positive in the last 30 days. That's not great.
  • ๐Ÿ‘‹ Audience is young and splits evenly between males and females.
  • ๐Ÿ… Competitors include Pluto TV, Peacock, CBS, IMDB, and a few more streaming apps that are free

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Continuing the Momentum

App Intelligence by Appfigures

Looking at Tubi's downloads over the last few years, we can see something's working. See that upward shift in the middle of the chart? That isn't the impact of COVID. We've seen COVID's impact on many streaming services, but Tubi's growth precedes that.

COVID didn't hurt at all and helped to continue the upward trend. But competition is getting stiffer. A slew of traditional cable channels have rebranded their legacy apps and behave a lot more like mobile-first companies now.

Tubi has been growing 50% year-over-year for the last few years, and as long as it continues to invest in optimizing for organic downloads, I don't expect that to change.

The Competitive Landscape is Getting Busy

The streaming race seems to grow a new competitor every month, but in most cases, those competitors all cost something per month. While Tubi is technically competing with them, its free price tag puts it into a different category.

Competitor intelligence for iOS and Android Apps by Appfigures

In its own group, Tubi is doing very well. It's keeping up with NBC's Peacock (which has The Office) and has triple the downloads of its nearest competitor. CBS seems to be in the lead, but that's because it launched in early March and had a big spike in its first week.

It's getting crowded out there, but Tubi has momentum, and that's what's most important here. It's momentum Tubi has to fight to keep.

How is Tubi Found?

Let's start by zooming out to see which keywords contribute the most to Tubi's organic downloads:

Where Tubi is ranked on the App Store by Appfigures

I gave Tubi an A- even though they duplicate keywords, which is an obvious no-no. Looking over this list above, I hope you can see why.

Tubi holds the #1 position for the keyword movies, one of the more popular and competitive keywords all streaming services would love to own. Not only that, it's also the #1 result for "free movies", the #2 result for "tv shows", and the #3 results for "free tv".

Keyword Analysis - The Obvious Parts

Let's dig in by looking at the keywords Tubi is targeting in its name and subtitle:

  • Name: Tubi - Watch Movies & TV Shows
  • Subtitle: Stream Content: Movies/TV

Strictly based on these, here are the popular keywords Apple sees:

That keyword list where Tubi is ranked right now is just great. The current name and subtitle, not as much. There's a lot of wasted characters there which leads to a pretty small number of target keywords.

Tubi ASO Keyword Performance by Appfigures

There are some good ones here, but for the most part, the glaringly obvious issues are... glaringly obvious. And issues.

  • The algorithm doesn't see words that are repeated twice between the name and subtitle, so "movies" and "tv" aren't doing much here.
  • "Content" isn't a word most people type into the search box nor think about when they think about movies.

These issues are costing Tubi a good number of characters they can use to expand their keyword reach. Luckily that's a pretty easy fix.

What's in the Keyword List?

Now, let's reverse-engineer the keyword list. The list isn't public, but we can attempt to uncover it by looking at all other keywords the app is ranked in.


If you've been following these teardowns, you'll immediately see Tubi's strategy. The keyword list is targeting intent, specifically, the type of content people are looking for. So in addition to aiming for more generic terms vague, like "TV shows", Tubi is also targeting more specific ones like "reality tv", "kids shows", and a bunch of others.

The beautiful thing here is that most of those keywords combine well with other keywords in the name, subtitle, and the keyword list itself. That's a great way to know the list is good.

๐Ÿ‘‰ ASO Techniques: How to Optimize Your Keywords List in App Store Connect

Screenshot & Video Analysis

Not a single app this season had an App Preview video, so Tubi fits right in. I end up debating the need for a video every time I come across an app with no video, and almost always, the answer is that it can't hurt. Please prove me wrong.

Let's look at the screenshots:

Tubi for iOS Screenshot Analysis by Appfigures

Overall I like these. There's a bunch of contrast, each screenshot has the right colors and content to capture attention, and each screenshot has a label. Almost perfect!

If you read Tubi's description, it just screams "free movies," which is great because that's a great selling point. Its screenshots, however, don't.

Now... Apple's policies can be directly blamed for that, but I think there are many ways to say free without upsetting Apple, and that's what the people at Tubi should be focusing on and experimenting with.

What's Tubi Collecting?

In this new(ish) section, we look at the privacy labels apps declare on the App Store. Tubi is definitely collecting, but considering it's a free app, it's not too bad.

Data Used to Track You:

  • Identifier
  • Usage Data

Linked to You:

  • Contact Info
  • Diagnostics
  • Identifiers
  • Other Data
  • Search History
  • Usage Data
  • User Content

Looks like quite a bit, and given it's a free that makes money by serving ads, not at all a surprise. There's a certain level of give-and-take on the App Store, where what you take is free movies, and what you give is mostly unknown.

These labels add a bit more insight into that unknown but overall still leave a lot to be desired. For example, what's "Other Data", and what sort of "Search history" is Tubi collecting?

I don't see these as "problems". Ultimately, there's no such thing as free lunch. But I've said this before and will say it again, this new visibility into the unknown will eventually become a factor in the should I download this app decision process.

A Quick Look Under the Hood

Here are all the SDKs and APIs we see powering Tubi:

3rd Party + Open Source Projects:

  • Adjust (Attribution)
  • Branch (Attribution)
  • Braze (Engagement)
  • Login with Facebook
  • Firebase (Analytics)
  • Lottie (Animation)

Native APIs:

  • Apple Authentication
  • Apple Local Authentication
  • Core Spotlight
  • StoreKit

Tubi is using what, by now, you can tell is a pretty standard stack.

Firebase is the most dominant SDK for analytics, and a deeper look at Tubi's SDK graveyard, the SDKs that have been uninstalled over the years, shows they've tried a bunch of different analytics solutions, both from big names like Facebook and also from private companies like Countly.

The Verdict: Don't Stop Believing!

In its category, Tubi is already doing very well. More competitors will come, there's no doubt, but if Tubi can maintain its momentum, it can continue to give those new competitors a run for its money since it's easier to find.

But Tubi's real competition isn't apps like it. Tubi is fighting two battles:

  1. The concept that all streaming apps cost money, and
  2. Content providers, who now have their own apps, and figured out how to charge for them

Tubi, and free apps like it, have the tools necessary to win the first battle and the content to win the second. If they try.

The Tools I Use

I did this entire analysis with our App Store Optimization and Competitor Intelligence tools, the same ones hundreds of thousands of app makers rely on to monitor and optimize their apps. Get ahead + outsmart your competitors with Appfigures. Get started โ†’

Download and revenue figures used in this teardown are based on estimates extracted from our Competitor Intelligence tools.

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