By: Nick Cole
Updated: January 15, 2020 – 10:00 AM
While the on-demand streaming market is flooded with subscription products, IMDb TV is taking a different approach.
The popular website IMDb, which is short for Internet Movie Database, has become more than a place to look up the filmography of your favorite actor or check the reviews of the latest box office release. Now owned by tech-giant Amazon, IMDb has joined the world of streaming content. It is offering movies and TV shows for free on a platform called IMDb TV.
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ABOUT THIS REVIEW: Team Clark loves the word “free,” especially when it involves legally streaming TV shows and movies. We decided that we should check out the IMDb TV service and see if it is something Clark.com users might enjoy on their devices.
For the purposes of this review, I signed up for the service and downloaded the necessary components to watch on my phone, tablet, television, streaming devices and computer. I then took a “test drive” of the service on all of those devices. I came away with some interesting notes to share.
What Is IMDb TV?
IMDb TV is a free on-demand streaming service that is attached to the Internet Movie Database website and app. In exchange for not charging a monthly subscription fee, IMDb TV requires that users watch commercials that are inserted intermittently throughout the content.
While IMDb’s roots are in a fan-based website, the brand was purchased by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and transformed into a mainstream way to access information on film and television. This streaming branch of that operation is integrated into the same app and website that provides movie reviews, ratings, filmographies and even movie showtimes at your local theater.
How to Watch IMDb TV
While the IMDb TV service may be free, that doesn’t mean you’ll get away without signing up for the service.
Sign Up Is Required
If you’d like to enjoy the free streaming from IMDb, they do require that you create an account on their website. You are able to sign up with an email address, Amazon, Facebook or Google account.
That’s annoying, I know, but there is some upside to being signed into their site while streaming. You will be able to create a watchlist, submit IMDb ratings on the content you consume and receive recommendations on shows or movies that may be of interest to you based on previous viewing habits.
Of course, the benefit to this for IMDb is that they’re able to track your viewership and better tailor advertisements for their partners.
Devices and Apps
The good news? You’ll be able to watch IMDb TV from your phone, tablet, television, computer or most any other streaming device. The bad news? Depending on the method you’re using, there may be some adjustments necessary.
IMDb TV is available through the IMDb app, which is available on phones and tablets on both iOS and Android devices. If you download this mobile app, you’ll be able to sign in and watch straight from a device.
It also is available through Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Fire TV for television streaming. The easiest way to determine what you need for television streaming is this:
- If you have an Amazon Fire TV Stick, the IMDb TV content will be integrated into that format since IMDb is owned by Amazon.
- If you are using a different streaming device, such as a Roku, you will need to download the Amazon Prime Video app to access IMDb TV. It does not have a standalone Roku channel, for example.
Content Available to Stream on IMDb TV
The content selection on IMDb TV is quite good for a service without any subscription fees. There are mainstream movies with big stars like Brad Pitt, Jack Nicholson and Bill Murray. It also appears that the connection with Amazon Prime Video may offer the opportunity for some content to rotate onto IMDb TV for limited-time free streaming. For instance, in October the service was featuring thrillers like Shutter Island and Zodiac in honor of Halloween.
While you may not have access to new releases with this service, you will be able to see some critically acclaimed films and actors. Some films you’ll be able to stream include:
- Apocalypse Now
- The Shining
- What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
- Groundhog Day
- La La Land
- Surf’s Up
- Patriots Day
- Hacksaw Ridge
- Donnie Darko
Popular TV Series
I was pleasantly surprised at the number of television series I recognized. No, you’re not going to get the latest and greatest hits from the small screen, but you are going to find some name brands free of charge. Classics like I Dream of Jeanie and Gilligan’s Island will provide some retro laughs. The Middle offers a more modern take on comedy. The First 48 and Forensic Files offer hours of true crime content, as well.
Here’s a sampling of the TV series available for streaming:
- The Middle
- The First 48
- I Dream of Jeannie
- Gilligan’s Island
- Forensic Files
- The A-Team
- Kitchen Nightmares (with Gordon Ramsay)
- Midsomer Murders
The selection of original content is a little sparse, but IMDb TV is producing its own shows. Within that effort, there appears to be a focus on animated and short-form talk show formats.
Here’s a sampling of the available original content:
- You’re Not A Monster (animated)
- Corner Gas (animated)
- The IMDb Show (talk show)
User Experience for IMDb TV
Now that you know what content you can find on the service, I wanted to give you a better idea of what the user experience is like. Let’s talk about the advertisements you’ll endure, the user interface and some tips for IMDb TV consumption.
How Bad Are the Ads?
The commercial breaks were typically 90 seconds at a time. My experience was often four advertisements per break, with the commercials alternating between 15 and 30 second spots.
Here’s a look at the advertisement distribution for a movie that had a run time of just over two hours:
I marked the seven advertisement breaks with red circles.
For your typical half-hour television shows, I noticed that the experience varied a little bit. I experienced anywhere from two commercial breaks to none at all. Here was the most common, which is a singular break in the middle of the show:
The hour-long television show looked more like this, with three breaks included:
When viewing original content, I noticed that much of it was without advertising. I was able to watch full episodes of the animated shorts, such as You’re Not a Monster, without seeing a commercial.
I was very impressed with the simplicity and ease of the user interface. It was not cluttered with ads or promotions as you might expect from a free website. In fact, I saw no advertisements at all on the menu pages via mobile or internet-based browsing.
The menu is broken down by genres and categories. Movies and TV shows were listed separately, but are mixed together as options on the menu. Here’s a look at the default home screen menu:
It is incredibly easy to swipe through each category on your phone or tablet (use your remote or mouse on TV and computer). If you cannot find what you’re looking for, the search bar is readily available on both the app and the site. The content category breakdowns are as follows:
- Recently Added Movies
- Recently Added TV
- Most Popular Movies
- Popular TV
- Holiday Movies
- Movies of the Week
- IMDb Originals
- Criminally Good TV
- Top Rated Movies
- Chills and Thrills
- Action and Adventure
- Date Night Picks
- Movies for the Whole Family
- Real-Life Dramas
Tips for Enjoying IMDb TV
Has some of the available content caught your attention? Here are some tips for enjoying it on IMDb TV:
- Save the password on your device: If you’re planning to use the app as your primary source of streaming for IMDb TV, I suggest saving your password. I tried not doing that, and was asked to login to my account often upon re-opening the app.
- Rate movies and shows after viewing: The fun part of streaming content on a site known best for its reviews and ratings for content is that you get to be an active participant in the process. There is no better time to rate a show or movie than when it is fresh on your mind. The integration makes it easy to be a valued contributor.
- Utilize the recommendations tab: Since IMDb TV is going to be tracking the content you watch no matter what, you may as well see the benefits of it. Swiping over to the recommended tab will identify shows and movies that may be a good fit based on the type of content you have watched. Be warned, sometimes the content it suggests is not available for free on IMDb TV and instead it is suggesting a rental from Amazon Prime Video. That can be annoying, especially if you don’t already use Prime Video.
Final Thoughts on IMDb TV
Still trying to decide whether or not you should add IMDb TV to your streaming portfolio? Here are some pros and cons to think over:
IMDb TV: Pros and Cons
|FREE!||Not many new release movies or shows|
|Award-winning movies on the menu||Small selection of original content|
|Tolerable ad experience||No Roku channel|
Bottom Line: After using IMDb TV for a bit, I was searching for the right way to describe the experience. It reminds me of watching a non-premium, antenna-based television network, but with the luxury of being able to watch on demand and take it on the go with several devices. If you’re looking for a Netflix substitute, you’re likely to be disappointed. If you’re looking for a free way to enjoy some quality content, I don’t think you can go wrong.
Do you have experience watching the IMDb TV streaming service? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!