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Pluto TV vs Tubi: What’s The Difference & Which Is Best?


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Pluto vs Tubi

Pluto and Tubi are both popular streaming services. More importantly, both are free, and users should find that either will make a good addition to their streaming setup. As neither service requires a monthly paid subscription, there’s not actually a reason to choose between them. However, here is an overlook at what each offers and how they compare beyond being free.

Pluto TV first launched back in 2013 and has since grown into a very popular streaming service. In 2019, Pluto was purchased by Paramount (formerly ViacomCBS), the same company that owns the Paramount+ streaming service. Of course, a major difference between Pluto and Paramount+ is that Pluto is totally free. There are no monthly payments to make, and the service doesn’t even require an account to watch the free movies and shows.

Tubi launched back in 2014 and has also gone on to become a popular streaming service. Back in 2020, Tubi was purchased by Fox Corporation. For reference, Fox Corporation is different from the Fox arm that was sold to Disney back in 2019. Regardless, Tubi continues to operate as an independent service, and continues to be a popular destination for free movies and shows.

Pluto and Tubi are similar

With both Pluto and Tubi being free services, there is one important similarity between them and that’s the use of ads. As the services do not require any payment directly from the viewer, both are heavily invested in the ad-supported model. As there is no option to subscribe and pay, there is also no option to upgrade to a premium version. In other words, ads are unavoidable with both of these services.

While these services can be watched for free, even without an account, they do still offer the option to create an account and creating one might be the right choice for some homes. For example, both services offer a watch list option making it easy to bookmark videos to watch at a later time. However, it is difficult for a service to know it is the same person without some form of identification. Due to this, Tubi requires users to create a free account to add videos to a watchlist. While Pluto will actually let users bookmark videos without an account, any videos added to the watch list won’t be accessible on other devices without an account.

Speaking of which, device support is another area where the two services are similar overall. Generally speaking, both Pluto TV and Tubi cover most of the major and popular platforms including Amazon Fire TV, Android mobile and Android TV, iOS devices and Apple TV, and Roku. This is all in addition to select smart TV platforms. Considering the importance of device support, consumers will want to confirm their devices are compatible before considering either service.

Pluto better for live TV

One of the major differences between Pluto and Tubi is Pluto’s emphasis on live TV channels. This does need to be caveated, however, as the channels are not the same as those that subscribers to a live TV service will be used to. Instead, they are curated channels based on a topic, genre, or program. For example, there are genetic channels for movies, news, comedy, reality and so on, and not popular channels available with a paid subscription.

Although not typical live TV channels, they do still represent an important, but shrinking, difference between Pluto and Tubi. For any homes that like the idea of being able to open an app, scroll through a selection of shows and movies that are on right now and watch, then Pluto is going to be a better option. Once the Pluto website is visited, or one of the platform apps launched, the interface immediately boots the user into whatever is playing on one of the channels.

This is not to say that Pluto is just live TV as the service does also provide access to a complete on-demand video section as well. Once the on-demand section is accessed, users can choose between various categories to filter down the extensive catalog by most popular movies, top TV shows, new, recently added, trending now, last chance, among others. Depending on the device used, Pluto users might continue to see what’s playing live in a smaller window while navigating the on-demand section, further highlighting its focus on watching content live and as it is shown.

Tubi better for on demand

Technically, Tubi also offers access to live TV, but the options are a lot more limited when compared to Pluto. However, the fact Tubi does include some live content is likely a sign that this side of the service is likely to grow in the future. In the meantime, the variety of live content on Tubi remains more limited.

That said, Tubi’s approach is to actually focus on recognized live TV channels more than topics in general. While Tubi does provide access to news, entertainment and sports channels, these are not branded as generic channels, but made up of channels like Fox Sports, NFL, ABC News, and TMC, among others. Similar to Pluto, these are not exactly the channels that are available with a live TV subscription, but channels that show highlights, daily studio content, and original programming from these networks. Still, for those that specifically want to ensure access to NFL content, or news from a certain network, it might be a better option than Pluto.

Live TV aside, Tubi places a much greater focus in general on on-demand content, where users open the app and have to find something to watch. With Tubi heavily focused on on-demand, its library is considerably larger than Pluto’s, making it a better option for those that simply want quantity from a free service. In fact, Tubi claims to have the “largest library of content” thanks to a catalog that opens up access to more than 20,000 movies and television shows. Similar to Pluto, after visiting the Tubi website, or downloading the app on a supported device, the user can immediately start watching movies or episodes, even without having created an account.

Pluto vs Tubi summary

Pluto TV brings together the ability to watch content in a traditional live manner as well as the option to watch select shows and movies when wanted. For homes that would like the option to simply drop in and watch what’s on now, then Pluto is going to be the better option. However, for those that are more interested in a Netflix-like streaming experience, and prefer quantity over everything else, then it is hard to argue with Tubi’s extensive library of videos. Not to mention, it does provide access to some live TV programming as well.

Of course, with these being free services, homes don’t actually have to make a choice between them. Pluto TV and Tubi are very similar, but they are different enough to make having access to both services at the same time worthwhile. While it is also possible to use both Pluto and Tubi without an account, many homes will benefit from creating a free account, and especially if they want to create a watch list or continue watching on other devices.

John Finn


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