IMDB and Amazon shifts into free video streaming with ad-supported Freedive

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Amazon is expanding its video streaming horizons by launching a new service IMDB Freedive, an advertising-supported on-demand service that provides access to movies and TV shows that is separate from its existing subscription and paid Prime Video offering.

Launched in the United States, IMDB Freedive provides access to a selection of over 130 movies and 29 TV shows at no charge. Rather than paying a subscription or for individual shows or films, users are instead interrupted with commercials while viewing the content.

While short, the initial list of content is varied and consists of relatively well-known programming, including "Heroes," two seasons of "The Bachelor," "Gilligan's Island," and "Kitchen Nightmares," reports Variety. For films, the selection ranges from "The Last Samurai" and "Memento" to "Run Lola Run" and "Foxcatcher."

The service also offers a selection of IMDB short-form originals, including "The IMDB Show" and "Casting Calls," alongside trailers and interviews. More content is also planned to be added in the future.

Taking some cues from Amazon's own Prime Video service, IMDB Freedive taps into the retailer's X-Ray function, providing facts and trivia about a movie or TV show's cast and the current scene when a video is paused. IMDB is a source for the data used in the Prime version of X-Ray, making it a logical inclusion for IMDB's own video service.

The service is initially being made available through the IMDB website, as well as via Fire TV set-top boxes. Mobile app versions, including one for iOS, are also in the works, though it is unclear if it will be made available on the Apple TV at the same time.

Freedive has been rumored for some time, with reports of negotiations with content distributors surfacing in August 2018. It is also an experiment for Amazon, which has previously offered content to Prime subscribers as well as the option to buy videos outright, while free content may also help drive some sales of the Fire TV range for customers who aren't already using Prime.

The addition of IMDB makes the video streaming market even more crowded for Apple, which is currently developing its own roster of original content. The first wave of shows from the iPhone producer is tipped for release in early 2019, but it remains unclear if it will be as part of a streaming service or if it will be provided free to owners of Apple devices alongside other channel subscriptions.