Product Review: IMDb TV
IMDb TV (formally called Freedive) is an odd offering: a bare-bones streaming service without any real hook. It’s not bad (unless you lack a PC), but it’s certainly not good.
IMDb TV is a bit of an odd duck.
IMDb’s streaming service, originally called Freedive, only operates on PC’s and tablets- unless you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, at which point you can use the Amazon Video App to watch it. As such, it’s very limited, especially as a free to use service. It also doesn’t have a strong identity when it comes to the content it provides. When I originally encountered the service, I was of the opinion that it was going to cater to the void left when Criterion packed up its bags. My expectations of it being the go to hub for highly rated, quality cinema was quickly shattered by the briefest of glances at its catalogue. IMDb TV offers pretty much the same stuff you’d expect to see on Tubi or VUDU… on a much smaller scale. While it does offer TV as well as full movies, it’s catalogue is much smaller than the other free streaming services I’ve perused.
As such, it’s pretty hard to recommend IMDb TV. It has a lot less ways to watch, and a lot less to watch. Having a nice viewer and a fair commercial structure can’t save this service from being sub-par.
IMDb TV is the free streaming service offered by the Internet Movie Database. It is only offered in the USA, and only from its website, which won’t work on mobile devices. The service requires a login to access, but one can be obtained free from IMDb, or you can use a Facebook or Amazon account to sign up. To watch the service on a cell-phone, video game platform, or television requires accessing the IMDb TV channel on Amazon Prime Video… which require a subscription to Amazon Prime. The free content is supported by limited commercial interruption… mostly by ads from Amazon (gee, I wonder why). The content is curated by most of the standard metrics: action, drama, comedy, etc. The only outliers are the ability to search new, highly rated, or editor’s pick categories.
IMDb TV is free, if you have a PC or tablet. Otherwise accessing the content would require a subscription to Amazon Prime. Which is weird, because if you have Amazon Prime, you already have access to a “free” movie library that is newer, larger, and without commercial interruption. It would be like me setting up a small stand right next to the checkout of a Five Guys offering my cold, unseasoned burgers to anyone that already just paid for a better burger. So, yeah, weird.
The Content/ In Action
The content isn’t bad, but it is on the smaller side. You have big movies like La La Land nestled alongside older classics and schlocky sci-fi. Each major category has a bout 15-20 movies available, and the TV section has a good breadth of newer series to older series. The problem is that other streaming services have noticeably more. The only slight edge IMDb TV has is that it can get movies a year or two after theatrical release, something other free services struggle with. I would imagine IMDb being a subsidiary of Amazon has a lot to do with that.
The viewer is pretty much IMDb TV’s strongest attribute. It’s sleek, easy to use, and has nice features like 10 second reverse/fast forward. All that is pretty much becoming the industry standard, but it’s in IMDb’s credit to have it right off the bat. Commercial breaks are fair, with a 90 minute movie having four commercial breaks lasting about a minute each. I had a touch of latency issues for the first ten seconds of each movie I watched, but after that, everything was crisp and clear. And this was on a bad connection. If you can find something you want to watch on IMDb TV, you’ll at least be watching it with style and ease.
IMDb TV just doesn’t have its game polished enough to recommend. Not having a mobile/video game/TV app in 2019 is egregious. The content is varied, but noticeably smaller than other free services. I don’t think you’ll hate using the service if they have something you want to watch. But I wouldn’t go out of my way to use it, either. I’ll check back in with the service in a few months, and if they’ve made some noticeable improvements I’ll update. But as of now this streaming bun needs more time in the oven.