IMDB Adds Free Online Movie Service
TheInternet Movie Database(IMDB) is a massive, extremely popular website detailing all aspects of many movies and television shows, has finally added what the site has curiously been missing all along: video footage of full-length movies and TV show.
There are a few things that I really like about the new service. While many videos are slapped up on the site using an embeddable player from Hulu, IMDB is the first site I’ve seen that lets you watch these embedded videos in full screen. And it’s nice being able to find videos right next to the images and other media that pop up when you’re searching for information about a movie or TV show.
For years, the Internet Movie Database has been the go-to spot for information about movies, TV shows, actors, directors, and all sorts of other information related to the entertainment industry. But over the last few years as online video started to take over the web, there was one thing conspicuously absent from IMDB: video. Now that’s all changed, as IMDB’s parent comkpany Amazon has rolled out a major update which lets users watch over 6,000 videos from sources like Hulu, CBS, and independent filmmakers.
The Amazon-owned site will now offer 6,000 movies and TV shows free of charge from Hulu, CBS, Sony Pictures Television, and hundreds of independent filmmakers. The content will rotate (much as it does on Hulu), depending on the content-owners’ wishes. IMDB will host and stream some of the video itself, but appears to be using embeddable players from Hulu and CBS where possible.
“IMDb’s mission has always been to be the world’s most comprehensive, user-friendly destination for all movie, TV and celebrity-related information, products and services,” said Col Needham, founder and managing director of IMDB, adding that “We’re excited to offer our users a simple online experience to watch full-length movies and TV episodes for free […] Our goal is to show our users every movie and TV show on the internet for free.”
The site’s interface is also a letdown when it comes to sorting through items with multiple pieces of content, like a television show. After visiting the webpage for Arrested Development (easily one of the best shows in recent memory), I found that episodes were listed out of order with poor descriptions.
And figuring out what you can actually watch will likely confuse many first time visitors. After browsing to the webpage for “Superman”, I was presented with a greyed-out “Watch It” button, which was accompanied by a link to Amazon’s Video On Demand service. Unsure of why I couldn’t click “Watch It”, I promptly looked to see if I was missing a codec or needed to sign into the site. Turns out this is just a bad design choice on IMDB’s part – if you can watch a video the button will be gold, you can’t watch it if it’s grey (why not just say “You can’t watch this here”?).
For now, the service is only available in the United States, as there are several licensing issues that must be handled. IMDB’s visitors will be able to watch classic shows such as Charlie’s Angels, Star Trek, Bewitched and Beverly Hills 90210. Also, new releases like Knight Rider and 30 Rock will be available before their debut on television.
The move should have been considered a very long time ago, as it provides huge financial possibilities, but as the saying goes, it is never too late to do the right thing. From this point on it all depends on how Amazon will promote the service and also on the quality of its content.
IMDB is one of my favorite sites on the web – I’ve spent countless hours browsing through movie trivia, forums, and top 100 lists. It’s nice to see that the database is finally incorporating video, but it could be doing so much more than links to Hulu embeds. Instead of including video as footnotes to database pages, the IMDB should create a consumer-friendly content portal, leveraging its database to serve as a powerful recommendation and review engine.