Amazon is launching a new video service called “Amazon Video Direct.” The new service entices professional video creators to upload their videos to Amazon, where they will be displayed on the Amazon Video site alongside studio-created TV shows and movies. The videos will be viewable by “all Amazon customers” via an ad-supported model, shown to Amazon Prime Video subscribers (presumably without ads) or available as a one-time rental or purchase. The service is launching in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, and Japan.
It’s easy to see “Ad-supported video” and label Amazon Video Direct as “a YouTube competitor,” but Amazon is clearly only aiming for the “professional” end of the YouTube spectrum. Uploading a video requires that users first create an account (a regular Amazon account won’t work) with a “company” name. It’s also mandatory to connect a bank account and submit tax information so Amazon can distribute all the money you’ll be making. The paperwork required just to upload a video takes the service out of the running for the viral cat videos that pop up on YouTube—this service would be more for the Machinimas or Finebros of the world.
The launch partners give a good idea of what the market Amazon is aiming for. The press release states “AVD launch partners include: Conde Nast Entertainment, HowStuffWorks, Samuel Goldwyn Films, 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.” (Disclosure: Conde Nast owns Ars Technica.)
There is a sign-up page for content creators, but it seems from a normal user perspective that the content will just appear somewhere in the normal Amazon Video interface. Amazon says the videos will also be available on every platform Prime Video works on: “Fire TV, Fire and other iOS and Android tablets, connected TVs, game consoles, iOS and Android phones, and laptops.” For content creators, Amazon is promising performance metrics like “number of minutes a title was streamed, projected revenue, payment history, or number of subscribers.”
Professionals like to get paid, and on Amazon Video Directly they’ll get “50 percent net revenue” for paid or rental purchases. For Prime viewers, the content creators are paid $0.15 an hour for US viewers, and $0.06 an hour for other countries. Ad supported content comes in at 55 percent of revenue. To jump start the program, Amazon is also launching the “AVD Stars” program, a bonus pool of a million dollars distributed every month to the top 100 videos.