Amazon’s IMDb TV Joining Roku Platform

In a surprise move, the Amazon-owned ad-supported VOD service IMDb TV is getting app placement on the Roku platform. IMDb TV is a direct AVOD competitor to The Roku Channel. The Roku platform had more than 51 million registered accounts at the end of 2020.

IMDb TV, which is also available to 50 million registered accounts on Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Prime Video service, has moved up the ladder against Roku, ViacomCBS’ Pluto TV, Fox Entertainment’s Tubi and NBCUniversal’s Peacock in the the increasingly competitive AVOD market.

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IMDb TV original content includes spy drama “Alex Rider,” and “Moment of Truth,” among other licensed fare from Amazon Studios and third parties.

“We are thrilled to provide customers a seamless and easy way to view our content with the distribution of our IMDb TV app on millions of Roku devices,” Mark Eamer, VP of IMDb TV, OTT and brand advertising, said in a statement.

Series ‘Almost Paradise’ Headed to IMDb TV Feb. 1

Electric Entertainment’s “Almost Paradise,” which originally premiered domestically in March 2020 on the broadcast network WGN America, is headed to AVOD service IMDb TV Feb. 1.

“We have established a wonderful relationship with Amazon’s IMDb TV,” said Electric CEO Dean Devlin. “This marks our third partnership with the free streaming service — the first being the re-imagining of the hit TV series ‘Leverage 2.0,’ and secondly, the streaming of all three seasons of ‘The Outpost.’ We can’t be more pleased with how our relationship is blossoming and look forward to more opportunities with the rapidly growing AVOD service.”

The series stars Christian Kane (“The Librarians,” “Leverage,” “Angel”) as Alex Walker, a former U.S. DEA agent who was forced into early retirement. Once the DEA’s most resourceful undercover operative, the combination of his partner’s betrayal and a life-threatening battle with hypertension sent him as far from the madness as he can go — a small tropical island in the Philippine Archipelago. He now runs the gift shop at the island’s luxury resort hotel, gets his disability payments at the nearby U.S. Air Force base, and generally manages his transition from Jason Bourne to Jimmy Buffett. But, the island’s luxury resorts attract rich, powerful, and sometimes criminal elite from around the world, often on a collision course with Alex. Despite his best efforts to begin a tranquil new life, he’s pulled back into a world of dangerous people and deadly situations, either through his friends in the local police department or running into people from his old life.

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CFO: Amazon Upping AVOD Focus, Growth in Foreign Prime Video Use

Lost in the glow of another colossal fiscal quarter for Amazon was an e-commerce launch in Sweden and increased focus on ad-supported VOD distribution going into 2021.

Speaking on the Oct. 28 fiscal call, CFO Brian Olsavsky said the number of Prime members who stream Prime Video outside the U.S. grew by more than 80% year-over-year in the third quarter, and international customers more than doubled the hours of content they watched on Prime video compared to last year. Prime Video expanded globally in 2016 to more than 2o0 countries.

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While Prime Video, like Netflix, remains ad-free, Amazon isn’t turning its back on ad-supported content and incremental revenue opportunities. The company owns and operates ad-supported IMDb TV, and is working with third-party apps on Fire TV for advertising opportunities.

“We’re seeing some good momentum with that,” Olsavsky said. “I think good momentum and a lot of good learning on some of those initiatives there. I won’t say too much about what we’ll look like next year, but that gives you kind of sense of priorities where we’re spending our time and focused on.”

Reports: AVOD Revenue to Grow 25% in 2020

Subscription streaming video’s counterpart, advertising-supported VOD, continues to gain traction among consumers — and advertisers. New data from eMarketer suggests AVOD revenue will grow more than 25% this year compared to 2019.

The AVOD market, which is spearheaded by The Roku Channel, Disney-owned Hulu, NBCUniversal’s Peacock, Redbox TV, Amazon’s IMDb TV, ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV and Fox Corp.’s Tubi, among others, saw ad revenue skyrocket 31% to $849 million in the most-recent quarter, according to MoffettNathanson Research.

“AVOD advertising benefitted from heightened usage and a mix shift in advertising budgets to OTT platforms, growing sizably in the quarter,” senior analyst Michael Nathanson wrote in a note.

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Speaking Aug. 20 on the DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group Mid-Year 2020 Digital Media Entertainment Report webcast, Nathanson called AVOD the underreported streaming video story.

“That 28% of streaming minutes is where we think the streaming wars are actually happening,” Nathanson said.

With many of the AVOD players owned by major media companies, much of the ad growth would appear to be due to shifting third-party ad dollars from linear TV to connected televisions.

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But with four of the five AVOD platforms owned by major media conglomerates, some of this growth is likely coming from reallocated TV spend. eMarketer contends the 31% rise in AVOD revenue among the top platforms compares with an estimated 28% decline in national broadcast and cable TV ad spending in Q2, according to Nathanson.

Eric Haggstrom, forecasting analyst at Insider Intelligence at eMarketer, believes that while marketers warm to AVOD, much of the revenue revolves around media giants pushing advertisers to proprietary streaming platforms.

“Some advertisers who bought ads in the upfronts are shifting money within the same media company to streaming services,” Haggstrom said.

Indeed, Tubi earlier this year added all episodes of Fox’s “Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back,” in addition to 300 hours of separate Ramsay content, which includes “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Kitchen Nightmares” and “The F Word.” Tubi also added Fox’s music competition show “The Masked Singer.”

“Making this show available on Tubi alongside Gordon’s other series, will only grow his footprint while also further promoting his programs on Fox,” said Rob Wade, president of alternative entertainment and specials at Fox Entertainment.

AVOD: Quiet Before the Storm

With the crush of new subscription streaming VOD services entering 2020, new data from Ampere Analysis suggests ad-supported VOD, or AVOD, will build scale and roll-out internationally this year.

While AVOD use within the United States remains small compared to SVOD (from 3% to 6% of domestic online households), London-based Ampere believes this to be merely the quiet before the storm.

Major AVOD players include Pluto TV, Tubi, Crackle, Vudu, IMDb TV, Roku TV, Xumo TV, Shout! Factory TV and pending Peacock from NBC Universal, which will also be SVOD, among others.

Specifically, the researcher contends AVOD is filling the niche previously targeted by SVOD: catalog content. As SVOD services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu migrate toward original programming, AVOD streams older content for free — with advertising.

The proportion of Netflix’s catalog more than five years old fell from 50% in Sept. 2015 to 35% in Sept. 2019 — a trend that will continue across the sector. In the meantime, the long tail of older content has been embraced by the new AVOD services, who average nearly 80% of their catalog at five years old by title count, and in the case of Crackle, 70% of content is over 10 years old.

This demand for older content not only provides a new market for licensing deep archive, but also offers a boon for distributors and sales agents, according to Ampere.

“AVOD is coming, and it’s going to make its mark on the VOD landscape rapidly,” Guy Bisson, director at Ampere, said in a statement. “Its impact will be felt not just by the entertainment industry, but by advertising too as the shift that has already disrupted the subscription television market sweeps across the free-to-air sector.”

As advertisers rush to support AVOD, online video advertising will inevitably increase as the platforms spread globally in 2020. To date this form of advertising has remained relatively small — even in developed markets like the U.S. where 27.2% of online ad spend is on video, and in Canada where it’s just 5.85%.

Ampere expects the rush to AVOD to be supercharged by some of the studio direct models such as Disney’s Hulu and Peacock, which are expected to adopt a hybrid SVOD/AVOD model.

“AVOD services are treading a well-trodden path with an early reliance on older content, but as their market position grows, we can expect them to begin acquiring newer content and even moving into original production activity as they battle for eyeballs in an increasingly crowded market,” Bisson said.

Amazon Upping Ad-Supported Video Options for Non-Prime Subscribers

Amazon Prime Video, along with Netflix and Hulu, remains among the top subscription-based video-on-demand streaming platforms in the United States and around the world.

But the e-commerce behemoth is quietly increasing efforts around its ad-supported VOD subsidiary, IMDb TV, and streaming media devices such as Fire TV.

In the third quarter, Amazon announced more than 20 new Fire TV products, including the first Fire TV Edition soundbar; the updated Fire TV Cube; the first OLED Fire TV Edition smart TV; and the first Fire TV Edition smart TV with far-field Alexa voice control.

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Amazon also expanded the lineup of content for Fire TV customers, including the recently announced YouTube TV app, Apple TV app, and the free News app. In Q3, Fire TV announced more than 37 million active users worldwide and continues to be the No. 1 selling family of streaming media players in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and India, according to Amazon.

Speaking on the fiscal call, Dave Fildes, director of investor relations, said Amazon is slowly increasing ad-supported video access, including third-party brand access.

“It’s still early in this space, but we’ve done a few things with IMDb TV, live sports [‘NFL Thursday Night Football’], things like adding more inventory through Fire TV apps, adding more OTT video supply through Amazon Publisher Services or APS integrations and streamlining access for third party apps and really just making it easier for advertisers to manage their campaigns and provide better results,” Fildes said.

IMDb TV Gets Top-Rated Canadian Animated Series

Amazon-owned ad-supported streaming service IMDb TV Oct. 3 announced it has licensed Canadian animated series Corner Gas Animated as a branded IMDb Original series.

Beginning Oct. 15, 24 episodes of “Corner Gas Animated” seasons one and two will be available for the first time in the U.S. on the IMDb TV app on Fire TV, the Prime Video app, IMDb.com and the IMDb mobile apps.

The series is joined on IMDb TV by Canada’s highest-rated live-action comedy franchise of all-time, Corner Gas, including 107 episodes of the International Emmy Award nominated, six-season sitcom and the 90-minute feature film, Corner Gas: The Movie.

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Corner Gas fans can now enjoy the entire Corner Gas franchise for free in one place as it finds its new exclusive home on IMDb TV in the U.S.,” Mark Eamer, VP of IMDb TV, said in a statement.

Created, starring and executive produced by showrunner and stand-up comedian Brent Butt, the series centers around the colorful characters of Dog River — a fictional rural town forty miles from nowhere and way beyond normal.

The ensemble cast stars Brent Butt as Brent Leroy, owner of a roadside service station, with Gabrielle Miller as Lacey Burrows, Fred Ewanuick as Hank Yarbo, Eric Peterson as Oscar Leroy, Lorne Cardinal as Sgt. Davis Quinton, Tara Spencer-Nairn as Constable Karen Pelly, Nancy Robertson as Wanda Dollard, and Corrine Koslo who replaces the late Janet Wright as Emma Leroy.

The new IMDb Original series Corner Gas Animated features an all-star lineup of cameos, including actor Michael J. Fox, comedian Russell Peters, singer/songwriters Jann Arden and Sarah McLachlan, astronaut Chris Hadfield and Epic Meal Time’s Harley Morenstein.

“Corner Gas Animated” joins the IMDb Originals line-up alongside short-form series, including the animated, scripted series You’re Not a Monster, which will begin streaming later this month, as well as The IMDb Show, IMDbrief and Casting Calls.

These IMDb Originals complement IMDb TV’s extensive collection of premium movies and TV shows across a range of genres, including comedy, kids and family, romance, thrillers, science fiction, documentaries, horror and more.

Fans of the hit show The Middle can enjoy all nine seasons exclusively on IMDb TV, along with other popular series, like Midsomer Murders and Columbo. Movie buffs will also enjoy must-watch titles, including Academy Award-winning film La La Land, Academy Award-nominated film Drive, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and more.

TiVo Prepping Ad-Based VOD Service

Digital video recording pioneer TiVo is looking to join the “+” video bandwagon.

The company is quietly assembling an ad-supported video-on-demand service to compete against platforms such as The Roku Channel, Pluto TV, Philo TV, Shout! Factory TV, Tubi, Crackle+ and  IMDb TV, among others.

In a post on the TiVo community blog, Ted Malone, VP of consumer products and services, said the company has secured third-party content agreements for the service.

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“Our soon to be launched TiVo+ video service will include dozens of channels of free entertainment,” Malone wrote. “We have assembled an amazing set of partners as part of this service and will be evolving it in the coming months with many more channels, on-demand movies and shows and other specialty content coming as well.”

With Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu dominating the subscription VOD market as pioneers in the space, ad-supported VOD has emerged as a free alternative to consumers featuring largely catalog content.

With studios and other content holders eager to mine a new revenue stream, AVOD has gone mainstream beyond early pioneers Shout! Factory and Sony’s Crackle.

TiVo last week announced it would begin rolling ads playing ahead of consumers’ recorded TV content.

Malone, in his post, reiterated that users will be able to skip the ads, which are “served dynamically” when playback starts. Ads do not appear after a user pauses and resumed playback of content.

“As part of our commitment to improve the experience, we are measuring each step in the process and will be continually optimizing the ads to reduce latency and improve performance,” he wrote.

 

Amazon Reportedly Seeking Original Content for IMDb TV

A day after bowing mobile apps for its ad-supported video-on-demand service, IMDb TV, Amazon is reportedly in the hunt for original programming earmarked for the platform.

The platform, which is competing against The Roku Channel and Viacom-owned Pluto TV, has begun offering upfront license fees for content instead of previous revenue-sharing agreements. The move is seen as Amazon’s willingness to pay for content, and not just access.

The service made a play for Vice Media’s canceled “Vice Media News” on HBO, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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IMDb TV has also begun exploring linear feeds focusing on specific genres such as crime and lifestyle, celebrity, action and dramas.

The push for greater AVOD presence comes as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu face a slew of SVOD competitors, including pending Disney+, Apple TV +, HBO Max from WarnerMedia, a rebooted AT&T Now online TV service and a branded service from Comcast.

“The rapid growth of free, ad-supported video streaming services has taken the industry by surprise, given that there is already so much out there,” Alan Wolk, co-founder of media consulting firm TVRev, told The Journal. “I suspect people watch them as lean-back or background TV, often as something to have on as they’re doing something else.”

Indeed, San Francisco-based Pluto TV, which Viacom acquired this year for $340 million in cash, earlier this month unveiled a new slate of genre and “pop-up” channels rolling out with content licensed from Viacom’s IP library.

The new channels include a lineup of 150+ live, linear, curated channels and thousands of on-demand movies from studios, networks, publishers and digital media companies.

 

IMDb TV Now Has a Mobile App

IMDb TV, the ad-supported streaming video service owned by Amazon, Aug. 26 announced it is now available through a branded mobile app on iOS and Android devices.

Users can now stream IMDb TV content from their phones or tablets. Interested parties can download the app from the Google Play Store and Apple App store.

Through new distribution deals with Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate, IMDb TV is upping its selection of acclaimed movies. Viewers have free access to Academy Award-winning Silver Linings Playbook (Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence), Age of Adaline (Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford) and In the Heart of the Sea (Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy), as well as TV shows like “The Middle” (Patricia Heaton, Neil Flynn), which is exclusively available on IMDb TV.

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Some of the top streamed movies this summer on IMDb TV included Academy Award-winning La La Land (Ryan Gosling, Emily Stone), Academy Award-winning Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise, Renée Zellweger), Practical Magic (Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman), A Knight’s Tale (Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell) and Drive (Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan).

Other top streamed movies on IMDb TV included Max (Thomas Haden Church), Step Dogs (Joris Jarsky), Zookeeper (Kevin James, Rosario Dawson), Paddington (Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins) and The Never Ending Story (Noah Hathaway), among others.