Fox weighs original programs for free streamer Tubi

Executives at Fox Corporation are mulling plans to offer original programs via the company’s free, ad-supported streaming TV service Tubi, according to a report.

In an article published by Bloomberg, unnamed sources claimed that Fox was tossing around the idea of spending as much a $4 million per episode on new programs for the streaming service.

Fox acquired Tubi last year for $440 million. It wasted no time integrating some of its broadcast and local news content into Tubi. In December, a Fox executive said Tubi’s advertising revenue was on pace to exceed that of its traditional broadcast networks.

“The restrictions of a linear schedule is not what consumers want,” Steve Tomsic, Fox’s chief financial executive, said at a conference.

But consumers do want fresh content, and Tomsic said Tubi was exploring ways to offer “cheap and cheerful” shows that at the same time would be “cost-effective” for the company to produce.

That would be a departure from strategies at other content powerhouses, including ViacomCBS, AT&T and Comcast, where big budgets are expended for original series that live on premium streaming services that compete with ad-supported ones like Tubi.

That said, Tubi has existed for several years — and in its current form — by offering streamers re-runs of classic sitcoms, dramas and low-budget movies, nearly all of which are cheaply licensed from third party distributors. Tubi never set the production bar very high, yet it managed to grab 33 million active streamers by the end of last year, putting it on par with similar ad-supported streaming services like ViacomCBS’ Pluto TV and a variant of Comcast’s Peacock.