Amazon’s IMDb Launches Ad-Supported Streaming-Video Service



Amazon.com
Inc.


AMZN -0.95%

launched its first advertising-supported streaming-video channel, the e-commerce giant’s latest effort to grab a larger share of the ad market.

IMDb Freedive, which went live on Thursday, offers a collection of TV shows and movies on IMDb’s website or through Amazon Fire TV devices without having to purchase a subscription, said IMDb, a unit of Amazon since 1998.

The catalog of available titles, which includes recent TV shows such as “The Bachelor” and “Duck Dynasty” and classics such as “Dallas” and “Gilligan’s Island,” will continue to evolve, IMDb said. Available movies include “Dracula” and “A Few Good Men.”

Digital video is an on-ramp to winning a piece of the roughly $210 billion global TV ad market. Amazon is on track to become the next juggernaut of online advertising, ascending to the No. 3 spot in the U.S. digital ad market behind the two dominant players,

Alphabet
Inc.’s

Google and

Facebook
Inc.

Though Amazon has just 4% of the market now, the company is expanding its avenues for marketers and hiring aggressively for its ad unit.

Amazon has been a player in streaming video for years through its Prime Video service, which started as a perk for subscribers of the online retailer’s annual Prime shipping service and has emerged as a challenger to Netflix Inc. The company spent heavily to produce and acquire streaming-video content including critically acclaimed shows such as “Transparent” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

Unlike Prime Video, IMDb Freedive will be free of charge and feature advertising. The channel will compete directly with Pluto TV and Tubi TV, and

Sinclair Broadcast Group
Inc.

is also entering the field with its STIRR streaming service.

Most of the leading streaming services are ad free. Hulu, which was launched in 2008, had been the rare player to include advertising breaks during programming. The company has added a tier, at a higher price, that allows viewing to watch interruption. Hulu is owned by

Walt Disney
Co.

,

Comcast
Corp.

,

AT&T
Inc.

and

21st Century Fox
Inc.,

whose stake is being transferred to Disney as part of its acquisition of Fox assets.

Write to Maria Armental at maria.armental@wsj.com



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