Yesterday, Amazon announced it would be rebranding its ad-supported streaming service, IMDb Freedive, as IMDb TV.
With new deals in place with Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Entertainment and MGM Studios, IMDb TV plans to triple the number of movies and TV shows it currently has in its library, “bringing thousands of new titles to the ad-supported service in the coming months.” (IMDb TV only has 383 titles in its library right now, so tripling that number wouldn’t even require a thousand new titles.)
“With IMDb TV, viewers have discovered TV the way it ought to be – a free collection of premium TV shows and movies available anytime,” said Mark Eamer, Vice President of IMDb TV. “With more titles than ever before coming to IMDb TV and our upcoming European expansion later this year, we’re excited for customers to tune in and enjoy all that IMDb TV has to offer, all at no cost.”
Right now, you can stream IMDb TV anywhere you can get Amazon’s Prime Video. It’s typically available as a free channel within Prime Video, but if you have a Fire TV, you’ll see it as a separate app. The only major device it’s not available on is Google’s Chromecast, but that looks to change sooner than later.
Amazon touted a couple of big names in its press release — La La Land and Captain Fantastic primarily — but was otherwise vague about what we can expect to see added to its library throughout the rest of the year.
Truth be told, since IMDb Freedive launched in early January, it’s been a pretty mediocre service. It initially had 130 movies and 29 TV shows, and it’s since upped those numbers to 328 and 55, respectively, but those are hardly impressive numbers, even for a service that’s completely free.
Tubi and Hoopla, for example, both have over 7,000 combined movies and TV shows in their libraries. Of course, pure quantity isn’t everything — every free streaming service pads their numbers with a lot of fluff — but it does illustrate the head start that IMDb TV’s competitors have.
Nevertheless, we’d expect to see more investments like this in the future. As companies like Netflix and Amazon (and now Disney and Apple) fight for your limited streaming budget, it makes sense for more services to go the free, ad-supported route.
Hulu, for example, as the New York Times reports, generates more than $15 in revenue per subscriber each month on its $6 ad-supported plans. That advertising is extremely valuable to companies, and it’s currently being under-utilized. According to some estimates, 29% of television viewing is done via streaming, but only 3% of advertising goes to streaming services. And because free streaming services are most popular with young people — 44% of 18-34-year-olds watch ad-supported services more than any other type — the space is ripe for growth.
Plenty of questions remain for IMDb TV. How much new content will it add? Will it ever leapfrog the free streaming services ahead of it? How much will it overlap with Prime Video?
The one thing we can be sure of is that the future of streaming is starting to look free.
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