Amazon Seeks Exclusive Licenses to Add IMDb TV Content

Amazon, which is increasing its investment in IMDb TV, an ad-supported streaming service for movies/TV, is now asking content creators for exclusive licenses, according to sources. An example of this is its contact with Vice Media to make a deal for Emmy-winning “Vice News Tonight,” recently canceled by HBO. The tech company also now offers an upfront license fee for “some type of exclusivity,” as opposed to its earlier model of only sharing ad revenue. Some content owners prefer an upfront fee, which is a guaranteed payment.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, also according to sources, “Amazon is exploring creating linear channels within IMDb TV,” to focus on such genres as crime or lifestyle or “dedicated to specific outside media outlets.” Amazon originally debuted IMDb TV in January as a free app dubbed IMDb Freedive; it is housed in the company’s advertising division as opposed to its Prime Video division.

Amazon’s proposed linear channels will compete with the Roku Channel and Pluto TV. Pluto TV has 18 million monthly viewers and another competitor, Tubi, has 20 million monthly viewers (neither of those figures have been independently verified). In June, “Amazon said IMDb TV was one of the top ad-supported apps on its Fire TV streaming viewing platform,” and added that it planned to “triple IMDb’s selection of movies and TV shows.”

WSJ notes that, “the push for more ad-supported streaming video comes as the subscription-based option gets crowded,” as new players such as Disney+ and HBO Max enter the space dominated by Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Netflix.

“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,” said media consulting firm TVREV co-founder Alan Wolk. “I suspect people watch them as lean-back or background TV, often as something to have on as they’re doing something else.”

In addition to award-winning films “La La Land” and “Drive,” IMDb TV provides “a handful of original short-form video series.’” It will debut its first scripted short-form show, “You’re Not a Monster,” in the fall. Veteran Amazon/Prime Video executive Mark Eamer was appointed vice president of IMDb TV in March, and former ESPN/Univision executive Eric Ratchman was named IMDb TV head of business.