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The Five Spot: Q&A with Mark Eamer, VP of IMDb TV

(Image credit: Amazon)

With the entry just last week by Redbox into the advertising-supported streaming market shows, consumers have no shortage of choices when it comes to free OTT platforms. 

From Roku Channel to Vudu Movies on Us to Pluto TV to Tubi, the so-called “AVOD” market (short for ad-supported video-on-demand) is growing fast, as consumers supplement their subscription services with these no-cost platforms filled with semi-recent theatrical hits and digital-only channel offerings. As Roku’s recent quarterly earnings report disclosures for Roku Channel show, there’s plenty of money to be made here.

And of course, where there’s a growing segment of the OTT market, you’ll find Amazon, which a year ago launched its own AVOD platform, Freedive, before quickly rebranding it under its long-held IMDb umbrella. 

Including a recent Disney deal, which gave it access to the coveted repeat libraries of series including Lost, Desperate Housewives and Malcolm in the Middle, IMDB TV has been majorly aggressive in the area of content expansion. We caught up with Mark Eamer, VP of IMDb TV, to talk about the platform. 

How did you get involved in IMDb TV?
I was leading Amazon’s U.S. Prime Video business when we launched IMDb TV in January 2019. We were blown away by customer response to our relatively modest but free ad-supported premium video offering. We decided to quickly double down on the opportunity and I moved over a few months later to start the IMDb TV team.

How did IMDb TV come together?
We felt customers were going to cut the cord and join a few SVOD services like Prime Video. We were right, but we didn’t have a full picture. Customers cut the cord and joined a handful of SVOD services, but they still had an appetite for more video without a monthly bill. We saw this as an unmet need so we built IMDb TV.

Why did Amazon choose the IMDB brand for the platform and not its own Amazon brand?
IMDb is synonymous with entertainment, so we saw this as a great ‘1+1=3’ opportunity. We could expand the brand of the largest premium video database where customers look up content to include a premium catalog of video entertainment where customers could watch content—all for free.

The AVOD market is pretty crowded right now. Is a shakeout coming?
We actually see very few options for customers to watch premium video entertainment like Chicago Fire, The Middle, or Shrek The Third for free. These are typically found behind the paywall of an SVOD service.

What will IMDB TV look like in three years?
We believe premium AVOD with limited commercials can be as relevant to customers as SVOD is today. We plan to continue to grow our catalog of content to be on par with paid SVOD services, expand our IMDb TV app to be in every living room and phone, and deliver an even better advertiser experience for both customers and advertisers.

THE BONUS FIVE

What shows are you binge-watching right now?
Chicago Fire. The whole family watches it at least five times a week. I convinced my youngest daughter that it’s a documentary.

What streaming services do you subscribe to?
Prime Video (of course), Netflix, and Hulu. 

Do you still have a pay TV subscription?
Yes. I watch too many sports to live without cable.

What’s your favorite podcast? 
Hardcore History and Revisionist History 

What is your bucket list travel destination?
Valdez, Alaska for skiing