Director of Consumer Communications for Tubi, Dana Balch speaks on the streaming habits of HBCU students according to analytics conducted during homecoming season. Tubi stood out as a cultural beacon and a primary choice as a platform of preference for both content discovery and viewing. The survey, conducted from September 21st to September 29th, 2023 by Sage Outcomes, found it’s not just about finding a platform to stream favorite shows or movies; it’s about finding a platform that understands the audience, resonates with their experiences, and mirrors their narratives.
Tubi is the most watched free TV and movie streaming service in the U.S., dedicated to providing all people access to all the world’s stories. As a leading ad-supported video-on-demand service, the company engages diverse audiences through a personalized experience and the world’s largest content library of over 200,000 movies and TV episodes, a growing collection of Tubi Originals, and nearly 250 FAST channels. Tubi is part of the Tubi Media Group, a division of Fox Corporation that oversees the company’s digital businesses.
Upscale was privy to an interview with Dana Balch (Director of Consumer Communications) for Tubi TV and she was able to enlighten us on more findings during the survey.
Upscale: Does Tubi have an HBCU analytical department?
Dana: So during homecoming season we thought it would be a good idea to get a sense of what HBCU students watch and found out that 75% of HBCU students are prioritizing out platform because of Tubi’s 100% free streaming and diverse vast catalog. Did you know we now have over 200k movies streaming, and tv episodes?
Upscale : Now that you mention it. It seems as if Tubi never runs out of content,
Dana: Yes, there’s so much content and it’s easy to find what you like. 42% said Tubi has shows no one else has. We also have a massive large multicultural department, especially our black audience that loves Tubi.
Upscale: I know Tubi has some amazing thrillers.
Dana: Funny you say thriller because black cinema is #1 and comedy is #2 . College is very stressful, and they need something to watch, unwind and laugh. Turning on something funny was very relaxing for a lot of them.
Upscale: Now how has Dana’s life changed since joining the Tubi streaming network?
Dana: I get to watch a lot of movies during the workday. I’ve always been a massive fan of film and television. I get to live in my passion everyday and it’s an amazing journey, especially working for a company that loves highlighting black television.
Upscale: How do you determine what to promote and highlight from a network standpoint?
Dana: I think it’s interesting in terms of casting. Why is Tubi so popular with this young audience? We are intentional with whom we bring in. The young people like are deciding what to watch by what they see online and what they are excited about and care about. They are watching with their friends and dorm-mates and they find a Tubi movie that kind of reflects that back to them. They are watching what’s popular, things that are familiar to them and especially reality stars that they see all the time.
Upscale: So do you have limitations like on your movies as far as the time length of movies you show and series people submit for approval to be streamed?
Dana: Mostly have full feature length movies and tv series from 30min-2hr range. I think a series can be as short as 6 episodes or 20=30 episodes for a season.
Upscale: Can you decide if you can commercial free?
Dana: Tubi is a ad supporting streaming series. It’s 100% free. You do not have to register to watch a movie you can just start watching, But if you do register you will get a lot of suggested content, you will get to pause during movies and come back to it and you get to save the shows too.
Upscale: How do you think that people are finding what they want to see?
Dana: Well, actually we check out what people are saving and recording and checking out the numbers on what’s streaming. This helps us to determine what people are tuned in to.
Upscale: Is there anything coming up new we should look out for or something streaming now that everyone is watching?
Dana: Big Bruh, is an animated movie featuring rap artist/motivational speaker Killer Mike. He’s a boxer who gets into a little bit of trouble publicly due to his opinions, and he gets canceled. So to save his image he signs up for a big bruh lil sisters program. He has someone that he works with, an 8 year old girl who challenged him in a way he hasn’t been challenged before. It’s a super fun satire. Talking about the tension between black public figures. There is also this movie coming out next year called Slay which is about drag queens fighting vampires. Lastly, there is Nick Cannon’s BIG DRIVE. He’s driving around with celebrities and there are some super fun people slated to appear with him.
Upscale: Apart from streaming, what initiatives does Tubi have to engage with HBCU communities in more meaningful, non-digital ways?
Dana: We are exploring various initiatives, including partnerships with HBCU campuses for events, film festivals, and educational programs. We believe in supporting the HBCU community not just through content but also through on-the-ground engagement that adds value to students’ academic and social lives.”
Upscale: What do you foresee as the biggest challenges for Tubi in continuing to appeal to HBCU students, and how do you plan to tackle these?
Dana: One of the biggest challenges is staying ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing media landscape. We plan to tackle this by continuously adapting our content strategy based on student feedback, staying attuned to emerging trends, and fostering a culture of innovation within Tubi to meet the evolving needs of HBCU students.”
Key points from the survey findings included:
- Free & Unique Programming: 75% of HBCU students prioritize Tubi for its free streaming model and its vast catalog. 42% of respondents said Tubi has content that other platforms do not have (42%).
- Word of Mouth: Many students tune in to Tubi content based on recommendations from peers (39%).
- Power of Personalization: More than half of students find content on Tubi through personalized recommendations.
- Bridging Legacies: Black Greek life narratives resonate deeply with over 60% of students involved in these communities and gravitate toward content that relates to their lived experiences.
- Cultural and Authentic Connection: Tubi’s content offerings are tailored to the HBCU experience that tend to over-index on nostalgic classics that are among daily culturally trending conversations and humor, with 54% of HBCU students favoring comedy content on Tubi.
- Streaming Habits: Nearly 50% of HBCU students engage with TV content several times a week, with 40% tuning in daily.
- Device Versatility: A significant majority of students prefer streaming Tubi on TVs (57%), followed closely by smartphones (54%).
- Communal Consumption: While 35% of HBCU students enjoy watching Tubi solo, 40% opt for a shared experience with roommates or dorm mates.