A free video-on-demand streaming service has launched in Australia with nearly 7,000 movies and TV shows, as the local streaming wars continue to heat up.

Tubi, the largest independently owned video service in the US, announced last week that it would be launching into the Australian market.

The movies are free to watch, but there’s a catch: you get advertisements interrupting your viewing.

The service became available in Australia as part of a soft launch last year, but most of the titles on display were B-grade movies, including Titanic II, Paranormal Entity, Atlantic Rim and San Andreas Quake.

Some more renowned movies like 3:10 to Yuma, The Blair Witch Project, Kickboxer and Stranger Than Fiction are now available on Tubi after it officially launched in Australia on Sunday.

Other titles including Dirty Dancing, The Grudge, Requiem for a Dream, Reservoir Dogs and Saw will also be included within the next six months.

It costs how much?

In contrast to the plethora of streaming services currently on offer in Australia, Tubi is completely free of charge and instead supported by advertisements that are shown during the movies and TV shows.

There will be, on average, about four minutes of ads per hour on the platform.

Tubi can be accessed from Telstra TV, Tubi TV or pretty much any internet-connected screen like Samsung TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Apple iOS, Android tablets and smartphones.

Tubi, which launched in 2014, announced record growth for the first half of 2019, with its customers watching 94 million hours of content in May alone. The US library has over 15,000 movies and TV shows, with more than 44,000 hours of content available for free.

The company said that the Australian library will “rapidly expand in the near future” to rival the American offering.

Australia is the first market outside of North America to have access to Tubi.

“We’re excited to offer Tubi in Australia, as the first of many launch initiatives to advance our global footprint,” Tubi CEO Farhad Masoudi said.

“Our library size in Australia will expand rapidly in the coming months and eventually grow to our current library size in the US of 15,000 titles, and beyond. We look forward to further activating new audiences who will discover the growing value of free video on demand.”

Competing services

The launch of Tubi in Australia comes just two months before the much-anticipated Disney+ comes to our shores, with the streaming wars set to reach new heights.

With the likes of Netflix Stan, Foxtel Now and Amazon Prime Video already available in Australia, Disney+ seems to pose the biggest threat to the established players.

Australia will be one of the first countries in the world to get access to the platform, with the service costing $8.99 per month. It will feature five Marvel Cinematic Universe TV shows along with a range of Disney content.

While Netflix launched as a one-stop shop for video-on-demand, the streaming landscape has since fractured, with major studios going it alone and competing against each other.

Apple is also on the verge of debuting its own streaming service before the end of the year, with content from Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Reese Witherspoon.

Studio giants Warner and Universal are also believed to be working on their own streaming offerings.

There will soon be too many subscriptions for the average household, making a free service like Tubi more attractive, Massoudi said.

“I think all the subscription companies are impressive, but the idea that an average home is subscribing to Amazon, Disney+ and all these other services is ludicrous,” Massoudi told news.com.au.

“It’s not going to happen, and the projections some of these guys are putting out, the only way that would be possible is if we all stop saving money and spend it all on streaming services. That’s clearly not going to happen.

“I think the average household is going to have a limited number of subscriptions – that number right now is three – and then they’re going to complement them with a free service.”

And the company isn’t concerned about not being able to access blockbusters initially due to studios keeping them for their own platforms.

“We’re offering a dramatically different offer. They have a shallow library of originals, we have a deep library of content,” Massoudi said.

“Obviously being free is a huge part of our proposition. There’s a huge difference between charging a penny and charging nothing…You’re one click away from watching a movie.”