Amazon jumped into the ad-supported video streaming market three years ago with IMDb TV. Later this month, that product will have a new name.
Amazon Video is an internet video on demand service developed, owned, and operated by Amazon.com. The service offers television shows and movies for rent or sale and Prime Video, a selection of Amazon Studios original content and licensed acquisitions that include Amazon Prime subscriptions.
Operating worldwide, the service may require a full Prime subscription to be accessed. In countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany, the service can be accessed without a full Prime subscription, whereas in Australia, Canada, France, India, Turkey, and Italy, it can only be accessed through a dedicated website. Prime Video additionally offers a content add-on service in the form of channels, called Amazon Channels, or Prime Video Channels, which allow users to subscribe to additional video subscription services from other content providers within Prime Video.
Launched on September 7, 2006, as Amazon Unbox in the United States, the service grew with an expanding library, and added the Prime Video membership upon the development of the Prime subscription. It was then renamed as Amazon Instant Video on Demand. After acquiring the UK-based streaming and DVD-by-mail service LoveFilm in 2011, Prime Video was added to the Prime subscription in the United Kingdom, Germany and Austria in 2014, available on a monthly subscription of £/€7.99 per month, continuing the plan of LoveFilm Instant. The service was previously available in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden in 2012, but was discontinued in 2013. On April 18, 2016, Amazon split Prime Video from Amazon Prime in the US for $8.99 per month.
On April 27, IMDb TV will become Amazon Freevee, a name the company said better reflects the free nature of the service.
The ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) space has caught fire in recent years, picking up momentum during the coronavirus pandemic, as consumers streamed more movies and shows. Competitors include Paramount Global’s Pluto TV, Crackle, Tubi and the Roku Channel from Roku.
Amazon is trying to play both sides of the streaming market. Its Prime Video service is available through a monthly subscription of $9 or as part of the $15-a-month full Prime membership. Amazon competes on that end with the likes of Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock, though some of those also have free ad-supported tiers.
Paid subscription services still dominate the streaming space, but ad-supported offerings are gaining ground. In January 2021, approximately 34% of U.S. households that had video streaming capability used ad-supported streaming services, according to Nielsen data.
IMDb, the film and TV site Amazon bought in 1998, launched the free-to-stream service in 2019 under the name IMDb Freedive. Amazon said Wednesday that the product has “seen tremendous growth,” tripling its monthly active users over the past two years.
Amazon hasn’t released an active user metric for IMDb TV, but said in May that it has 120 million monthly active users across all of its ad-supported video content, which includes IMDb TV, Twitch, live sports and other channels.
Amazon expects to grow Freevee’s roster of original TV and movies later this year, the company said.
“We’re looking forward to building on this momentum with an increasing slate of inventive and broadly appealing Originals, and are excited to establish Freevee as the premier AVOD service with content audiences crave,” said Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, in a statement.
Disclosure: Peacock is the streaming service of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC. Comcast owns NBCUniversal.