Amazon’s IMDb TV Launches Service in the U.K.

Amazon-owned ad-supported VOD platform IMDb TV, which bowed in 2019, has launched service in the United Kingdom — the platform’s first international play. The free service will initially be available through Amazon Prime Video, followed by the app’s bow on Amazon Fire TV.

In addition to catalog movies and TV shows, IMDb TV features original content, including “Luke Bryan: My Dirt Road Diary,” “Moment of Truth,” “Alex Rider,” “Leverage: Redemption” and “Top Class: The Life and Times of the Sierra Canyon Trailblazers,” among others.

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“IMDb TV has created a free-to-consumer destination by combining a hybrid of exclusive Originals from Amazon Studios and highly sought-after movies and television,” Lauren Anderson and Ryan Pirozzi, co-heads of content and programming at IMDb TV, said in a statement. “Today’s U.K. launch marks a major step in our mission to deliver customers widely appealing content and globally relevant storytelling, through a personalized, free streaming experience.”

IMDb TV Lands First Pay-TV Partner: Comcast’s Xfinity Flex and X1

IMDb TV, Amazon’s ad-supported streaming service, Aug. 17 announced that its app is now available on Comcast’s Xfinity Flex and Xfinity X1. The launch on X1 marks IMDb TV’s first pay-TV partner, and expands Comcast’s embrace of competing digital platforms.

IMDb TV features originals from the award-winning Amazon Studios, including the recently launched docuseries “Luke Bryan: My Dirt Road Diary” and heist drama Leverage: Redemption, and the upcoming dramedy Pretty Hard Cases, premiering Sept 10.

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The free streaming service also features an extensive and updating library of movies and television shows, including “Chicago Fire,” “All in the Family,” The Hunger Games and How to Train Your Dragon, among others.

The expanded distribution follows IMDb TV app launches this year on Roku, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, LG Smart TVs (2018-21 models), PlayStation 4 consoles as well as Chromecast with Google TV, NVIDIA SHIELD and other Android TV devices. Earlier this month, the IMDb TV app launched on iPhone, iPad and Android mobile devices in the United States.

In addition to third-party devices, IMDb TV is available as an app on Fire TV and a free Channel within the Prime Video app across hundreds of devices.

Amazon Prime Video and IMDb TV Join New Universal Filmed Entertainment Group Pay 1 Window

Universal Pictures continues to turn movie distribution on its ear. Just days after its Pay 1 distribution deal with NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group (UFEG) announced multi-year license agreements with Amazon Prime Video and its ad-supported sister platform, IMDb TV.

Under the agreement, Prime Video will have an exclusive Pay 1 window for UFEG’s slate of live-action films in the United States, starting with the 2022 release slate, and will also receive rights to a package of UFEG’s library movies. IMDb TV gets exclusive network-window rights for films from UFEG’s 2020-21 theatrical slate and rights to a package of animated titles.

Starting in 2022, UFEG’s new live-action films will first become available on Peacock after their theatrical releases, before landing exclusively on Prime Video four months later, with titles to include the highly anticipated Jurassic World: DominionThe 355 and Ambulance.

Prime Video will also gain SVOD rights to UFEG’s theatrical slate of animated movies through a subsequent window, including highly anticipated 2022 theatrical titles such as Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru and DreamWorks Animation’s Puss in Boots: The Last Wish and The Bad Guys. Several iconic titles including the “Jurassic Park” franchise, “Bourne” franchise, Love Actually, Get Out and the “Fast & Furious” franchise will also become available to Prime members.

“We know Prime members love movies, and this new deal with UFEG will deliver some of the best films available for our customers,” Brad Beale, VP of worldwide content licensing at Prime Video, said in a statement. “This new slate of UFEG films, including exciting upcoming releases such as Jurassic World: DominionThe 355 and Ambulance will continue to build upon Prime Video’s catalog and delight Prime members, all at no additional cost to their membership.”

“Recognizing that all parties would benefit from a modernized windowing structure, this new agreement allows Prime Video and IMDb TV to benefit from UFEG’s vast library and diverse content like never before,” said Peter Levinsohn, vice chairman and chief distribution officer of UFEG. “We’re thrilled to team up with Amazon to deliver our titles to its customers. This agreement further delivers on our distribution strategy to monetize our unparalleled movie library across multiple services, while offering customers the most choice, control and flexibility in how, when and where they watch films.”

IMDb TV will obtain an additional window to stream UFEG’s 2020-21 slate of theatrical releases, featuring titles such as DolittleThe Invisible ManF9 (Fast & Furious 9) and Sing 2, with full exclusivity across AVOD and SVOD, during the license period. In addition, IMDb TV will also have access to select titles in UFEG’s animation library, including Illumination’s Despicable Me 2 and DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon 2, and Shrek 2.

“This significant deal with UFEG is another step forward in solidifying IMDb TV’s reputation as a premium free destination for blockbuster movies,” said Lauren Anderson and Ryan Pirozzi, co-heads of content and programming at IMDb TV. “Expanding our library with prominent UFEG titles from every genre, IMDb TV continues to deliver on our promise to provide viewers the content they crave with something for everyone.”

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’s 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.