Amazon’s IMDB has finally announced its free streaming video service. Long in the works—we’d reported it last summer—Free Dive is going to feature reruns of TV shows like Gilligan’s Island and old movies like The Last Samurai.
The service will be free, supported with ads. It will be an interesting test to see whether this service catches on with consumers. The content is hardly exclusive, but the allure of free stuff and familiar titles might be enough for some consumers.
Recent television history would suggest Free Dive has an uphill battle. When digital video recorders were introduced in the early 2000s, large numbers of TV viewers used the devices to record shows so they could watch them later while skipping through the ads. That caused years of debate for the TV industry, only quelled by the advent of a bigger threat: ad-free subscription streaming services. It’s tough to see that anyone will be more willing to sit through a commercial break just because the show is being streamed.
For Amazon, which is expanding its advertising business, Free Dive is worth trying. Initially it will only be available on Amazon’s FireTV devices, but if it catches on Amazon will no doubt try to increase its distribution on other devices and smart TVs.