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HERE’S How IMDb Makes Money in 2023 [Full Business Model]

The entertainment industry is vast. It includes movies, media, sports, music, video games, cultural events, museums, performance arts, etc. Entertainment is the best way of relieving stress. Therefore, entertainers always find the audience for their performance. 

IMDb generates revenue through its IMDbPro premium subscription, CPA ads, and monetizing ad spaces. They receive a lot of global traffic and therefore numerous sponsors try to gain ad space on this platform.  

Millions of people work tirelessly to ensure people can access their favorite shows, music, movies, and performances. Many of them gain recognition for their work and IMDb offers a platform to know more about their work. 

Internet Movie Database or popularly known as IMDb has become a one-stop destination to find information about entertainers, producers, and people who work to deliver entertainment. How does this platform make money? What is IMDb’s business model? Continue reading to reveal the truth! 

What is IMDb?

IMDb serves as an online database. It provides details regarding movies, home videos, TV shows, video games, artists, producers, cast, production crew, trivia, plot summaries, and ratings. 

Most movie and TV show viewers rely on Internet Movie Database to find top-quality content. It was initially a fan-operated database for movies and TV shows on the Usenet group. It later became an independent web portal and now it operates as, Inc. 

This company is a subsidiary of Amazon and it’s the most trusted place to find facts about products introduced in the entertainment industry. The world’s leading information-sharing platforms use IMDb as a source to provide factual information. Wikipedia and many news agencies use user-generated content published on that website. 

There are more than 8.7 million titles on the IMDb website, which also include TV show episodes. Users can find 11.4 million person records. Besides, over 83 million users have joined this platform to access data more easily. It is one of the most trusted websites by movie and TV show fans. Therefore, most viewers assess the IMDb ratings before watching a new film or TV show. 

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IMDb History

IMDb came into existence in 1990 when Colin Needham posted a movie-listing software on Usenet. Many other users joined Needham with their lists. Since it was working, Colin soon started the “Actors List” and Dave Knight posted a “Directors List”. 

Their lists only included actors who were alive and active in the entertainment business. IMDb decided to provide space for retired professionals, who were not active in the industry. Many users were taking interest in posted lists. So, Needham started a new list to feature Dead Actors and Actresses. 

Steve Hammond decided to collect all the data and merge character names played by both actors and actresses on their lists. All the participants had a goal of making all the posted lists as comprehensive as possible. 

There were more than 10,000 films and TV shows on IMDb by 1990. The data regarding all the correlated actors and actresses were also available. Needham wanted to make it simpler for users to find the required data. Therefore, he created a selection of Unix shell scripts to find the required information on all IMDb lists. It was the original beginning of the Internet Movie Database. Users used to call this database “rec.arts.movies movie database”.  

The beginning of Internet Movie Database Limited

The movie database was growing exponentially. It had started featuring categories, such as biographies, trivia, plot summaries, filmmaker details, and other demographic data. They researched and assigned proper ratings to all movies. 

Alan Jay had created a centralized email interface to respond to all the queries related to lists. World Wide Web was in its infancy stage and the team decided to take their database online. It was known as the Cardiff Internet Movie Database. This database was stored on the servers located in Cardiff University’s computer science department. 

The database was relying on donated bandwidth until the Internet Movie Database Limited was formed. This company was incorporated in 1996 in the UK. Col Needham was the primary owner of the firm. They were partnering, advertising, and licensing with other parties to generate revenue! 

Operations as an Subsidiary 

Jeff Bezos bought IMDb in 1998. His firm Amazon had spent $55 million to acquire IMDb along with two other firms. This company became an Amazon subsidiary and it was now able to pay shareholders for their investments and hard work. 

Amazon used IMDb as a platform to promote and sell videotapes and DVDs online. Internet Movie Database has launched its IMDbPro program in 2002. It was available only for professionals working in the entertainment industry. 

The IMDbPro users could access box office details, film production, and the company directory. The company allowed premium users to create their IMDb pages. In order to encourage premium users, IMDb started releasing the Top 100 Contributors’ list. All those contributors could get free premium membership on the website. 

The number of contributors continued to grow from 100-250 by 2010. This company had launched its very first foreign-language version in 2008. This version was featuring data in the German language. 

IMDb has recently celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2017. Needham is still the CEO of the company and he manages all the operations related to this platform. 

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How Does IMDb Work?

IMDb had introduced a plan to list new details on its platform. It was called the “Resume Subscription Service”. Crew members and actors could use this program to post their resumes. Users paid yearly fees to upload their details with pictures. 

IMDb featured detailed information about the person on a subpage. The regular entry was generated automatically. This company ended its Resume Subscription Service in 2012. It became a part of the IMDbPro subscription. 

The information shared by volunteers belongs to them. They hold the copyright on the uploaded information. IMDb has the right to edit, copy, and sublicense the uploaded information. The uploaded information is verified before publishing for accuracy.  

IMDb contributors do not get any credit for their contributions. IMDb takes considerable time to publish the uploaded text. Its working method is quite different from OpenStreetMap, Discogs, Wikipedia, and other platforms managed by volunteers. 

This web portal does not allow users to add, edit, or delete data. IMDb technology and only its salaried staff can control the manipulation of data. Users can only request modifications for objectionable or problematic content. 

IMDb’s rating system

This platform entertains over 83 million registered users for their content demands. Movie and TV show ratings are assigned by assessing votes or ratings submitted by registered users. This company invites all the users to rate the movie or show. It calculates all the votes to assign the rating displayed on the movie or show’s IMDb page. 

The IMDb rating or Weighted Rating is based on a formula developed by this company to rate content. This company has never revealed the method it follows to calculate ratings. Available formulas are based on what many users believe the real method can be! 

IMDb Ranking System

Users can check the list of Top 250 Movies on IMDb’s official website. This list is created by assessing film ratings assigned by registered users. This list includes numerous new and old movies known for their top-quality content. 

Common users may not agree with every movie that made the list, but experts believe it is perfect. It is a huge recognition for any movie director and actors to get their movie in IMDb’s Top 250 Film list. 

How Does IMDb Make Money?

IMDb has millions of registered users. It invites users to volunteer and contribute. Since it offers all the data related to the entertainment industry for free, many people think IMDb does not generate significant revenue. 

That’s just a misconception because IMDb is generating colossal revenue through its web portal. This company makes money in two different ways, which are as follows:

Paid Membership

The IMDbPro membership plan was introduced for professionals working in the entertainment business. Many people buy the premium package and use their membership to upload text, images, and other data on their IMDb page. 

IMDbPro members can access this website’s data, which is not available for common users. They can also upload contact information, a reel, and unreleased titles. This platform offers a 30-day free trial to offer a glimpse of the pro membership plan. If the user likes services associated with IMDb premium, he/she buys the package. 

  • The monthly package currently costs $19.99
  • The annual package currently costs $149.99

The cost of both monthly and annual packages can alter based on the ongoing offers. Many professionals from the film industry have bought IMDb’s premium subscription. It features actors, actresses, producers, directors, sports stars, and other professionals from all over the world. Therefore, this company makes a huge profit by selling its premium subscriptions.  

CPA Advertizing 

CPA advertising is probably the main source of income for this company. It displays online ads and the sponsor pays according to the Cost per Action. Advertisers find IMDb a lucrative platform to promote their products. This website handles huge traffic and therefore it is an engaging place to display products. 

CPA is a less risky advertising tactic and therefore IMDb follows this method to make money. It is also beneficial for sponsors because they pay only when they get a lead or sale. 

This platform is also making money by selling ad spaces. It has become an appealing place to display upcoming movies and draw the attention of potential viewers. Production houses use this platform to publish movie images, posters, and other information. They promote the upcoming movies and shows on IMDb’s official website to bring the audience to the theater. 

This company generates $15.48 million through sales and real figures are unknown. It is one of the most profitable companies Amazon has acquired. Col Needham has managed it perfectly to make it the most trusted source for movie and TV show ratings. 

What Else IMDb is Offering Now?

IMDb offers several additional services. It operates as a news platform. Users can use this site to find out upcoming movies, projects, film shooting, and other information. This website provides fan-based ratings. This website provides genuine ratings of movies shared by viewers.  

Users can use this platform as a tool to prepare their watchlists. It has more than 8.7 million titles. Therefore, users can find new top-rated movies to watch every day. There are numerous TV shows listed on this platform to help users find reviews and ratings of different episodes. 

Those, who are interested in behind the scenes and background news, can use IMDb to find all entertaining facts. This platform offers a lot more than what news agencies share about movies, shows, actors, actresses, and the production crew. That’s why its premium subscriber count is increasing quite rapidly and this company is generating more profit than before.