It’s the biggest single licensing pact to date for IMDb TV, which is Amazon’s bid to capture share in the ad-supported VOD space. Terms aren’t being disclosed. IMDb acquired U.S. rights to “Chicago Fire,” part of the Wolf’s triumvirate of Windy City dramas along with “Chicago P.D.” and “Chicago Med,” from Wolf Entertainment and NBCUniversal’s Universal Television.
In addition, IMDb TV will offer all five seasons of “Friday Night Lights,” beginning Dec. 31, on a nonexclusive basis, also from Universal TV. All episodes of the high-school football drama, which has proven to be a perennial fan-favorite, are currently available on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.
“Chicago Fire,” currently in its eighth season on NBC, stars Jessie Spencer, Taylor Kinney and Monica Raymund. The show was created by Derek Haas and Michael Brandt, who also executive produce. Current-season episodes of “Chicago Fire” are available to stream on NBC.com and Hulu. While IMDb TV is the only place to stream the first six seasons, IMDb doesn’t have exclusive VOD rights for them.
It’s not clear how Amazon decides what to put on the free, ad-supported IMDb TV service versus the subscription-based Prime Video platform. Presumably, the company believes “Chicago Fire” will find an avid audience on IMDb, which claims to have more than 200 million monthly visitors worldwide (although IMDb TV is currently only available in the U.S.).
IMDb has gradually expanded the ad-supported VOD lineup, inking new deals this summer with studios including Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Entertainment and MGM and adding Lionsgate’s “La La Land” to the free streaming platform.
Popular TV shows on IMDb TV include “The Middle,” “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” “Alf,” “Fringe,” “Columbo” and “The Rockford Files.” The most popular movies include Brad Pitt’s “Fury,” “Whiplash,” “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” “3 Days to Kill” starring Kevin Costner, and horror movie “Oculus.”
IMDb TV is currently available only in the U.S. It’s accessible on the IMDb app and website and as a free channel in Amazon’s Prime Video app across hundreds of devices, including the Amazon Fire TV family. According to Amazon, IMDb TV runs half the ad load of typical network TV broadcasts. Competitors in the AVOD space include Tubi, the Roku Channel, Viacom’s Pluto TV, Walmart’s Vudu and Plex.