Amazon’s IMDb movie website today announced the launch of a free streaming service, called Freedive. The service offers viewers in the U.S. access to an ad-supported collection of TV shows like Fringe, Heroes, The Bachelor and Without a Trace, as well as Hollywood movies like Awakenings, Foxcatcher, Memento, Monster, Run Lola Run, The Illusionist, The Last Samurai, True Romance, and others.
The content is free to watch without a subscription, and can be viewed on a phone, laptop or a big screen by way of Amazon Fire TV devices.
IMDb was already the home for some video content, including trailers, celebrity interviews and short-form original series such as The IMDb Show, Casting Calls, and No Small Parts. These are now being bundled into Freedive, says the company, and will remain free to watch.
The new service will also feature X-Ray, the IMDb-powered service that offers details about the title’s cast, crew, music, and more.
“Customers already rely on IMDb to discover movies and TV shows and decide what to watch,” said Col Needham, Founder and CEO of IMDb, in a statement about launch. “With the launch of IMDb Freedive, they can now also watch full-length movies and TV shows on IMDb and all Amazon Fire TV devices for free. We will continue to enhance IMDb Freedive based on customer feedback and will soon make it available more widely, including on IMDb’s leading mobile apps.”
The launch comes at a time when the streaming industry as a whole is focusing more heavily on AVOD – ad-supported video-on-demand. Roku, for example, has been expanding the content available on The Roku Channel, which offers ad-supported movies, TV, news, sports, and other entertainment. Plex at CES this week also said it would launch ad-supported content this year.
For Roku, the availability of free content on Roku devices may help its hardware sales business, and clearly Amazon has the same idea.
However, Roku is now augmenting its free service with additional paid subscriptions. Meanwhile, Amazon’s Prime Channels service for cord-cutters, which consists of optional paid subscriptions to channels like HBO, Showtime, Starz, and others, is only available to Prime members.
It’s a bit odd for Amazon to have its TV shows and movies split up across two separate services – one from Amazon, through Prime, and another from its subsidiary IMDb.
The industry knew Amazon was preparing to enter the AVOD space, it was only a matter of when. It was earlier rumored that the service would launch this past fall, but that didn’t come to pass.
The new streaming service is live now at www.imdb.com/freedive. On Fire TV devices, a new icon will appear in the “Your Apps & Channels” row, says IMDb.
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