- Amazon last week launched IMDb Freedive, a free, ad-supported streaming video channel that's available on the company's website and Amazon Fire devices. The channel has movies and TV shows, including IMDb original video series like "The IMDb Show" and "Casting Calls," and doesn't require a subscription, per an Amazon announcement.
- Fire TV customers will see a new IMDb Freedive icon in the "Your Apps & Channels" section of its interface. Viewers who use Amazon's virtual assistant can say, "Alexa, go to Freedive," to browse and watch free movies and TV shows.
- The company plans to add more titles regularly and update the service based on user feedback. The service includes X-Ray, a feature that lets viewers search additional information about a show's cast, crew, trivia and soundtracks, among other details.
Amazon's launch of IMDb Freedive follows months of reports about the e-commerce giant's plans to create an ad-supported channel amid a broader push into ad sales. The company has ramped up its ad business in the past few years, quickly becoming the third-biggest digital ad platform behind Google and Facebook. Amazon this year will generate $7.23 billion in digital ad revenues in the United States, compared to Google's $47.89 billion and Facebook's $27.57 billion, researcher eMarketer estimated. Amazon's share of the U.S. digital ad market will grow from 5.5.% this year to 7.0% in 2020, the researcher said.
IMDb Freedive comes as more consumers cancel pay-TV service and opt to watch on-demand programming from a profusion of streaming services that vary from free, ad-supported content to paid subscription fees.
Streaming video is a crowded marketplace that will get even more cluttered this year with the entry of more services, like Freedive and Disney's forthcoming Disney+ service. Amazon's move comes as Roku, the maker of set-top streaming hardware, this month updated its mobile app to let viewers watch content from the Roku Channel, which premiered in 2017 as an ad-supported service. Roku's service appears to resemble Amazon Prime Video Channels, which lets subscribers pay for add-on video subscriptions with one-click purchases, per CNet.
Amazon's key advantage over rivals is its vast database of user habits and the growing tendency of consumers to use its e-commerce website to start product searches, instead of relying on Google or rival retail websites. More than one-third of marketers worldwide said they spent between 10% and 25% of their digital ad budgets on Amazon, according to a survey from Third Door Media cited by eMarketer. About one in 10 respondents said they put anywhere from 25% to 50% of their ad spend into Amazon. With Freedive, Amazon appears to be banking on its emerging advertising prowess to lure marketers to advertise on the new streaming service.