Amazon is taking on YouTube with Amazon Video Direct, a new service that will let anyone upload a video to Amazon’s streaming platform.
The self-service program will let people upload their own content to Amazon Instant Video, offering it to viewers to buy or rent, or for free (and supported by ads). Creators can also choose to make their video available on Amazon Prime Video, so that their content is included at no additional charge to subscribers – or, alternatively, as part of their own add-on subscription bundle through Amazon’s new Streaming Partners program.
Today’s announcement puts Amazon in direct rivalry with YouTube and Facebook, at a time when competition for vlogging talent is as heated as the fight for viewers. YouTube has already launched its own subscription service in the US, YouTube Red, which costs $10 a month. In 2014, Amazon bought Twitch, which allows users to stream video game content to other people and is already competing with YouTube’s similar site, YouTube Gaming. Vlogging talent company Fullscreen, meanwhile, has also launched its own SVOD platform.
“It’s an amazing time to be a content creator,” says Jim Freeman, Vice President of Amazon Video. “There are more options for distribution than ever before and with Amazon Video Direct, for the first time, there’s a self-service option for video providers to get their content into a premium streaming subscription service. We’re excited to make it even easier for content creators to find an audience, and for that audience to find great content.”
Amazon Prime Video is available as a standalone SVOD service for £5.99 a month, or as part of its Amazon Prime annual membership. While Amazon is tight-lipped over the number of Prime Video subscribers, Amazon says it has “tens of millions” of Prime members across the United States, Germany, Austria, United Kingdom and Japan.
International reach is a key part of the attraction for rival streaming services YouTube and Facebook – both of which have larger global audiences than Amazon Prime Video – but so is the ability to monetise content. Amazon believes it has an answer for that, in the form of the “AVD Stars program”, which will give video creators a share of one million dollars per month, based on customer engagement with their title.
Amazon will distribute to creators a monthly bonus from the one million dollar monthly fund, based on the Top 100 AVD titles in Amazon Prime Video, in addition to any other revenue earned. Video creators and providers who use AVD to make their titles available in Prime Video will automatically be enrolled in the scheme, which launches today and will make its first bonus distributions based on streaming activity from 1st June to 30th June.
The Seattle-based e-commerce giant said the service is designed for “professional video producers,” but its only requirements are that the videos be high definition and have closed-captioning for the hearing impaired.
Amazon tells Bloomberg that Video Direct is primarily intended for “professional video producers” – its only requirements are that videos are in HD and have closed-captioning for the hearing impaired. Indeed, as well as individual creators, Amazon’s move opens its doors wide open to any commercial content producers, such as news organisations, who want to sell, rent or stream their titles. Amazon Video Direct’s launch partners include Conde Nast Entertainment, HowStuffWorks, The Guardian, Mashable, Mattel, StyleHaul, Kin Community, Jash, Business Insider, Machinima, TYT Network, Baby Einstein, CJ Entertainment America, Xive TV, Synergetic Distribution, Kino Nation, Journeyman Pictures, and Pro Guitar Lessons.
“Amazon Video Direct helps us reach fans of our beloved preschool brands, including classic Thomas & Friends, Barney & Friends, Angelina Ballerina, Fireman Sam and Pingu, and get the content in front of Prime members faster than ever and into new territories,” says Andrea Carpenter, Senior Director, Global Content Marketing and Distribution, Mattel. “The upload and publishing process is easy and fast, and we can directly monitor our streaming performance through our online dashboard.”
Amazon may have tens of millions of potential viewers at its fingertips, but YouTube already has over a billion users – will Amazon Video Direct prove to be a powerful new force in the fray, or is it too late to the party?