Amazon has launched their long-rumored free ad-supported streaming video service in the US. Using the Amazon-owned Internet Movie Database for branding, the service is called IMDb Freedive and it’s available on most devices that can already stream Prime Video. On Amazon Fire TV devices, you should see a new Freedive icon at the front of your “Apps & Channels” row on the home screen. If not, you can launch the free service by saying “Alexa, go to Freedive” into your voice remote, paired Echo device, or hands-free Fire TV Cube.
IMDb Freedive currently offers just over 400 movies and about 150 TV show seasons to watch for free with ads. With popular movies like Memento, The Last Samurai, The Illusionist, Drive, Big Fish, and many more included, the common opinion seems to be that Freedive’s free catalog is generally better than rival free services like Tubi and The Roku Channel.
The free movies and TV shows are not streamed through an IMDb Freedive app. Instead, they are streamed through Prime Video apps on all supported platforms as a Prime Video Channel, although you do not need to be a Prime member to access the free content. On the main Fire TV interface, content will be marked as “Watch on Freedive Free with Ads” when it is included in the service. You can scroll through various Freedive categories of content by bringing up the dedicated channel page on Fire TV devices. This can be done from the “Your Apps & Channels” row or by scrolling down the home screen until you reach the “Prime Video Channels” row and scrolling right until you find Freedive among the list of channels.
While streaming the ad-supported free content on a Fire TV device, the commercial blocks will be marked with white strips on the video’s timeline bar. The number of ad blocks and the number of ads in each block seem to vary from content to content. The movie Drive, for example, had 5 ad blocks, which seems to be the most common number of ad blocks per video. The first episode of the TV show Heroes had 5 ad blocks as well, but the movie Gattaca had 12 ad blocks, which seems quite excessive.
As you’d expect, you cannot fast forward through ads once they begin. If you fast forward past an ad before it begins, the ad will still play when you stop fast forwarding. If you fast forward past multiple ad blocks at once, only the last ad block that you skipped will play when you stop fast forwarding. Similar to how traditional linear television ads are played, the content you’re watching fades into the ad and there is no indication of how long the ad is or how many ads there will be in that particular ad block. All content starts with a 5-second semi-ad welcoming you to the Freedive service. In the future, it
s easy to see these intros replaced with pre-roll ads that play before a video starts, but there doesn’t seem to be any actual pre-roll ads at the moment.