Dear IMDb, You need to do better than “IMDb FreeDive”


The idea is a clever one, and IMDb and aren’t the first to think of it.

Put vintage titles that are no longer Netflix draws — films, TV shows etc. — and not exactly “classics” — available on a streaming service.

Sony’s takeover of Crackle pioneered doing this, and other streaming websites are doing this with classic movies.

Sites you’d expect do it, like Turner Classic Movies, and even Open Culture.

The catch, of course, is that you have to watch movies broken up by commercials, like all those HDTV channels (Movies!, Grit, Get TV, This, etc.) that broadcast TV stations put on their subcarriers. or Tubi and Pluto and Roku.

Unlike the TV channels, though, the online streaming services are using machines to edit in the commercials and commercial breaks — popping algorithm-based breaks right in the middle of action, or at odd breaks in the action.

The ads have the potential to be cookie-based customized for your personal viewing pleasure, as in based on your recent searches for used cars, marine varnish etc.

So yeah, there’s still money to be made off “Tootsie,” “Groundhog Day” and thousands of other 60s-90s titles.

IMDb, the Internet Movie Database, as the Internet’s most popular movie research website, has been trying to morph into an entertainment company in its own right, lots of video components (video ads pay more), lots of stuff hosted by Kevin Smith, of all people.

IMDb Free Dive is their venture into streaming. And coming from the last word on film credits and bulk data and trivia on movies, a research and movie review site visited by millions, you’d expect it to be the best. It’s not. It’s awful. When I visit my Luddite mother who refuses to get or allow cable to be installed in her home (not high speed internet, although Century Link, her provider, advertises speeds it cannot achieve), I test out these streaming services so that the HDTV I gave her doesn’t go to waste.

I have no trouble getting films and TV shows to stream, or watching screener links provided by studios whose movies are about to come out. But IMDb’s software, chopping whole chunks of movies, the payoffs and punchlines to comic scenes of “1941” (a guilty pleasure) for instance, with every abrupt, jarring “commercial break,” is a joke.

Crackle has the same arbitrary commercial placement, but they don’t delete content.

Content is removed from the film on FreeDive, quite arbitrarily and seemingly by accident. The flow of the picture isn’t just interrupted, it is gutted.

Considering who you are, you’d think you’d treat movies more seriously, with more care and respect. Oh. Right. You hired Kevin Smith.

IMDb FreeDive sucks. Make it better.

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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