Amazon has launched ad-based streaming service IMDb TV in the U.K. with a selection of original and licensed content.
IMDb TV — a spin-off from the entertainment industry database IMDb — launched almost three years ago in the U.S. in order to provide a free, ad-supported viewing model. The U.K. launch marks the first international foray for the brand. It will initially be available via a carousel on Amazon Prime Video and, in the coming weeks, a standalone app on Fire TV. Membership to Amazon Prime is not required.
“Free streaming services are not unique, especially in the U.K., where there’s several broadcaster options [such as BBC iPlayer and Channel 4’s All4],” Ryan Pirozzi, co-head of content and programming at IMDb TV alongside Lauren Anderson, told Variety. “I think what is unique about us is ambitious, premium original series from Amazon Studios inside a free service: that is much more unique. “
“You might see some overlap in licensed content [with Prime Video], but the selection will be unique and bespoke because we’re obsessing over U.K. customers,” added Pirozzi. “So we’ll tailor our selection to our customers in the U.K.”
In the U.S., IMDb TV offers classic films and TV alongside original U.S. content, such as “Luke Bryan: My Dirt Road Diary” and “Moment of Truth,” produced by Amazon Studios exclusively for the service. Pirozzi said these will be available for British customers from launch but the overall catalogue available in the U.K. will be smaller, including fan favorites such as “Pulp Fiction” and “2 Broke Girls.”
“The same way we launched in the U.S. with Prime Video or IMDb TV, it’s a small ‘getting started’ selection so we can learn from customers,” he added. There is a smaller volume of content than that offered by Prime Video, Pirozzi said. “I would say it’s curated with a different lens in mind. It’s curated with a lens of customers.” Particularly customers who don’t want to subscribe to Prime but don’t mind watching adverts.
How does IMDb TV differ from Amazon Prime Video?
We like to refer to IMDb TV as the modern version of a network. [It has] the widely appealing inventive storytelling that people might expect from broadcast channels or basic cable but with the on-demand, personal experience of streaming. We think IMDb TV is complementary to Prime Video, so if you look at the customers that are enjoying IMDb TV, they’re Prime customers who want more selection and are happy to watch ads to get it, and customers that, for one reason or another, don’t want to be behind the paywall.
What is the IMDb TV brand?
It’s certainly broadly appealing. We want the content to be the kind of content that people might expect to be behind a paywall, and we want to delight customers that it’s actually free with ads. If you look at some of the content that’s going to be available at launch — ‘Moment of Truth,’ a true crime docuseries; ‘Top Class,’ another docuseries that follows elite high school athletes in the U.S. — you’ll see the broad breadth of content that we have. And then we complement that with licensed content: highly sought-after blockbuster movies and popular TV shows. So, it’s a general entertainment service.
Who is the IMDb TV customer?
I think we’re excited to learn about our customers that respond to IMDb TV — it’s still day one for us. I view it as those groups of customers that I was describing in the U.S.: Prime customers looking for more selection and finding stuff maybe they can’t find anywhere else. And customers for one reason or another that don’t want to be behind the paywall.
What has been the most challenging aspect of launching IMDb TV?
The toughest thing I think is standing out in a world where customers have so much choice. So, we ask ourselves, what will delight customers? What will stand out and have them choose IMDb TV, given all the choice they have? And so we really focus on a selection that is bespoke for customers in the territory, in this case, the U.K. That’s why we obsess so much about our slate of original programming, why we obsess over which content we’re licensing, which movies we seek, which licensed television fan favorites we seek, and we obsess over local customers.
Will customers really download two apps: the IMDb TV app and Prime Video?
We want to give customers a variety of selection but also choice in how they interact with that selection, so that you can enjoy all of our content without ever leaving Prime Video. But I also think sometimes people want to go into a dedicated experience, they want to know everything here is free with ads, and that I choose to interact with it that way. It just comes from a vision of ‘Let’s give customers choice in how they experience our content,’ but again, you don’t have to download both those apps.
Can audiences look forward to some exclusive U.K. IMDb TV original content in future, as there is already in the U.S.?
Well, it’s still day one, as we like to say, and we’re not announcing anything today. But as you’ve seen in our other territories, including the U.K., we typically launch with licensed content and content in the U.S., learn from customers and then launch [original content].
What we’ve done with IMDb TV is create this hybrid with original content from Amazon Studios combined with licensed blockbuster hits and popular TV. What you’re not going to see yet is U.K. [original] productions. That’s not part of our launch plan but again, it’s just day one.