Amazon introduces IMDb Freedive ad-supported videos…but Prime Video loses some content

Amazon introduces IMDb Freedive ad-supported videos…but Prime Video loses some content

Amazon has recently introduced

IMDb Freedive

This is a fascinating development, and a real step into a new market!

IMDb (Internet Movie Database) is a site that I probably use daily, and have done so for many years. It is, in my opinion, the best movie (and TV) reference site on the web. I use it as a measure…”I wish I had an IMDb for books/commercials/and so on”.

Amazon bought it in 1998 (it had launched in 1990). At the time, we could see interesting possibilities for it. Some people were concerned that Amazon might commercialize it in a different way, or filter it (to drive people to Amazon). However, my experience is that when Amazon buys a company, it is often buying the philosophy and leadership of that company, not just the assets. It was some time before Amazon’s presence was even easily detectable on the site. That has changed, with links to Prime Videos, for example, but it isn’t overwhelming.

I believe it was January 11th (yesterday) that IMDb Freedive was launched, offering ad-supported movies (some well-known and recent) and TV series (some with strong fandom) for free viewing.

Why did they do this?

Well, one reason is undoubtedly to sell more of the

Fire TV family (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

While you can watch IFd (that’s my new abbreviation for it…I figured I’d follow the IMDb precedent of making the last letter small and the last part of a compound word) on a computer, I’m sure the majority of people will want to watch on media streamers. Just as Roku has content which leads people to purchase that device, this may lead to the same thing happening for Fire TV devices.

Is the content tempting?


At launch, it includes:


  • Awakenings
  • Foxcatcher
  • Memento
  • Monster
  • Junebug
  • Look Who’s Talking
  • Lords of Dogtown
  • Johnny Mnemonic
  • Short Circuit
  • Drive
  • The Mask of Zorro
  • The Fisher King

Just for movies, that means there are recent movies, Oscar-nominated movies, geek-friendly movies, cult classics…there don’t appear to be a ton of them (I’ve only listed a few), but free, right? That’s if you are okay with ads.


  • Fringe
  • Heroes
  • The Bachelor
  • Without a Trace
  • Caprica
  • Kitchen Nightmares
  • Warehouse 13
  • Giligan’s Island
  • Dallas (the original)
  • Lexx
  • The Rifleman

While these aren’t the type of current shows you can see on Hulu, they can challenge the some of the older content you can see there, on Netflix, and on the similarly ad-supported Tubi.

I do use Tubi, and I think they may be the most immediately challenged of the streaming services by this development.

The ad experience isn’t bad, and is also similar to Tubi. They seem to have been reasonably careful about where a movie cuts to a commercial (actually, usually more than one). The ads are current: the Clark series were the pest control employee encounters supernatural creatures, for example.

I would love to see a more sophisticated discovery method, but that’s been true for me for Prime Video as well. For example, I want to just be able to see all titles listed alphabetically…seems like that would be as easy as ABC. 😉

Speaking of Prime Video, that is the one significant negative to the launch of IFd that I’ve found.

I went to watch Gilligan’s Island on it, partially to test it out…weirdly, it didn’t automatically want me to start with the first episode, but it let me switch to that. That could be because I’ve binged it on Prime before, though…maybe it was picking up where I left off.


I couldn’t find a way to switch it back to Prime…watching with commercials was the only choice I was being given.

I wanted to confirm what that seemed to indicate; that some videos had left Prime and migrated to IFd, taking something away from Prime members.

I used Amazon’s very nice chat help, and here’s how that went:

Me: IMDb Freedive is certainly interesting! I do have a question: there are videos (like Gilligan’s Island) which I have watched on Prime. When I find them now, they only give me a choice for watching on IMDb Freedive with ads. Is there a way to select to watch them with Prime still, or is watching them with ads the only choice now?
You are now connected to [Amazon rep] from
[Amazon rep]: Hello, my name is [Amazon rep]. I’m here to help you today.
Me: Great!
[Amazon rep]: Bufo, I am sorry the IMDb Freedive titles contain advertisements that run during playback of a title.
These advertisements cannot be skipped with your Prime subscription.
However, I’ve forwarded your message to our IMDb Freedive business team.
We’re constantly working to improve our digital video experience.
Me: Okay, just to confirm: some videos have been removed from Prime Video and added to IMDb Freedive instead?
[Amazon rep]: Yes, you’re right.
It’s upto the content owners agreement.
Me: Thanks! I appreciate the prompt and concise response.
[Amazon rep]: You are very welcome. Can I help you anything else?
Me: No, that’s it! I’m going to share that information with other people, and I’m sure they’ll find it helpful.
[Amazon rep]: Thank you for contacting Amazon and wish you a great day! Take care, bye!​

It makes sense that it is up to the rights’ holders as to which service has their content…I suppose it’s possible that some companies will make it available both ways, but I’m sure this was part of how Amazon got the content for IFd: “You already have it available through Prime…you can put it into IMDb Freedive, and get a share of ad revenue.”

This seems somewhat unusual to me: Amazon usually really wants to promote

Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

membership…that appears to be the economic driver of their consumer retail business (at least from the customer end). This, hypothetically, makes that a bit less attractive…but I suspect very few Prime members will realize it, and I’d be confident that almost no one would drop Prime over having to watch ads (ad-supported Kindles and Fires have usually been more popular than their full-price equivalents, but then you were getting a discount. We aren’t going to get a Prime discount because of this, although if it’s very successful, I suppose it might slow the need for Amazon to raise Prime prices).

On the other hand, this makes the Fire TV family of Amazon devices considerably more attractive…and since they have Alexa, it may be a way to get Alexa into more lives, a key Amazon strategy.

Definitely an interesting move!

What do you think? Had you discovered IMDb Freedive already (there was a banner ad on our Fire TV Cube)? Were you aware of IMDb? How do you feel about ad-supported video? Do you think this content will get more people to buy Fire TVs? If you are a Prime member, does it concern you at all? If you don’t have a Fire TV, will this get you to check out IMDb on a computer or mobile device? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog


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