Amazon Video Direct: An important new platform?
James R | On 12, Oct 2016
Earlier this year, Amazon took the unexpected step of launching its own YouTube-like distribution platform, Amazon Video Direct. The service effectively opened up Amazon’s streaming infrastructure to anybody: third party publishers and creators can now use AVD to distribute titles for people to buy and rent on Amazon Instant Video, or stream as part of an Amazon Prime Video subscription.
In an age where exclusivity is a key thing for VOD services, is it inspired out-of-the-box thinking or risking the tarnishing of its own seal of quality approval? Feedback we have had from readers has suggested that they are bewildered or frustrated by the wave of titles that have flooded the Amazon Prime Video library. Indeed, videos such as unboxings and trailers are now stacking up to stream, making it harder (without our guide to Amazon’s new, future and older titles) for users to find what they want.
However, it has also given a new platform to web series, such as Nikola Tesla and the End of the World. Other companies, meanwhile, can also self-release titles without the need for lengthy distribution deals.
Amazon, tellingly, has released the figures for its most successful Video Direct titles to date, a break from its usual approach to ratings, as it tries to promote its new service. But those who have shared that success have praised AVD to Variety for its versatility.
Samuel Goldwyn Films, which had 10 of the 50 top-performing AVD movies, many of which are available in the UK as well as the US, said it has seen “exceptional results”, noting the use of Prime Video to give “a second life” to its older films, while releasing newer titles for purchase through Amazon Instant Video. “Having the control over our content… they’ve made it more discoverable, and they’re pushing it to people who want to watch it,” said Samuel Goldwyn Films president Peter Goldwyn. “Compared with iTunes or Netflix, there are so many different ways to offer your product – you are not just tethered to one distribution mechanism.”
Comedy studio JASH has also released series through AVD, including Tim and Eric’s GoPro Show. It highlighted Amazon’s platform as useful because it has older users than YouTube, while its content recommendation algorithm helped to boost exposure with a more relevant audience. “We’re seeing immediately that we have an audience there, and longer-form content works well,” explained co-founder and COO Mickey Meyer. YouTube, he said, is more like being a “a needle in a haystack,” with Amazon providing “much more of a curated experience”, which “makes it easier to get your content in front of the audience”.
True to form, Amazon is also willing to splash the cash to attract partners: Amazon Video Direct has a “Stars” incentive scheme, which awards a share of $1 million in bonus each month to providers that self-publish content into Prime Video in the following categories: top 50 movie titles, top 10 TV seasons, and top 25 digital providers.
With cash, consumer engagement and customisable options, could Amazon Video Direct become a major player on the streaming scene?