Amazon Takes on YouTube and Others, Opening Video Platform to All Creators

Amazon Video Direct
Courtesy of Amazon

Initial partners include Conde Nast, Samuel Goldwyn Films, Machinima, StyleHaul

Amazon, which touts itself as Earth’s biggest store, has officially launched its bid to be the place to watch any kind of video under the sun.

With the launch of Amazon Video Direct, open to any video creator, the e-commerce giant will compete head-to-head with Google’s YouTube for video-ad dollars and views as well as other big Internet video distributors like Facebook and Vimeo.

Partners participating in Amazon Video Direct have four distribution options. They can make their content available to Prime Video subscribers and receive a per-hour royalty fee; it can be sold as an add-on subscription through the Streaming Partners Program; it can be offered for digital rental or purchase; or it can be made available to all Amazon customers for free with ads, and creators will receive a 55% share of the ad revenue (the same as YouTube).

Amazon will pay partners 50% of the retail price for digital purchases, rentals and subscription fees. If they choose Prime Video distribution, creators will earn royalties of 15 cents per hour streamed in the U.S. and 6 cents in other territories (capped at $75,000 per year) under the standard terms.

At launch, AVD 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.

Amazon also is launching the “AVD Stars” program, a bonus pool of $1 million per month to reward top-performing video creators and give them an incentive to add their content to Prime Video. The company will dole out a monthly bonus from $1 million fund, based on the top 100 Amazon Video Direct titles in Prime Video, on top of the revenue partners have earned. The AVD Stars fund is eligible to providers who stream content starting on June 1.


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Amazon’s pitch to video creators: They can now get exposure to the site’s millions of online shoppers, with the flexibility of picking among several different paths for making money.

“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,” Amazon Video VP Jim Freeman said in announcing the program. “We’re excited to make it even easier for content creators to find an audience, and for that audience to find great content.”

The move comes after Amazon introduced the option to subscribe to Prime Video for $8.99 per month in the U.S. as a standalone service; previously, it was available only through the Prime $99-per-year membership program.

Among Amazon’s initial batch of AVD partners, Samuel Goldwyn Films president Peter Goldwyn extolled the new range of distribution options. “With Amazon Video Direct, we have the control to create the unique distribution strategies that reflect the changing ways in which our audiences discover our films,” he said.

StyleHaul, the fashion video network that has built its business on YouTube, said it will bring a selection of its original series to Prime Video, including fashion drama “Vanity” starring Denise Richards. “We believe Amazon Prime members will enjoy the unique female voices featured in our content and be inspired by the fashion and beauty that our brand embodies,” said Mia Goldwyn, chief content officer of StyleHaul.

Video publishers can sign up for Amazon Video Direct at The Prime Video streaming service is currently available only in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Austria and Japan.

Amazon said AVD’s benefits include support for all the devices Amazon Video is available on, including iOS and Android tablets and phones, connected TVs, Amazon Fire TV devices and game consoles. The company also said it will provide detailed performance metrics, such as number of minutes a title was streamed, projected revenue, payment history and number of subscribers, and that video partners will have full control to make changes based on the data.

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  1. Marc says:

    Amazon has started an open campaign to remove videos under “poor customer experience” that amazon feels do not meet a certain quality threshold. What is happening is most if not all YouTube like videos are being rejected or removed. In turn amazon has no real hope of competition with ad based websites like YouTube because they will not allow that type of content to be published

  2. Aidan says:

    AVD has big issues when it coming to helping you with account problems. My issue is that there is no phone number to contact them if you’re having problems. For a business that is partnering with me at 50%, I expect to speak to someone when I am having problems. As of now I have been dealing with them via email. But they don’t answer my issue directly. Instead, they give me generic answers that leads me no where (repeatedly). I truly believe that I’m emailing an automated robot, not a real person. I have been dealing with this for a month now with absolutely NO headway what-so-ever. Just spinning my wheels. The department of AVD is useless and Amazon heads have NO control over them. I’ve called all head departments and no one can help me deal with AVD.

  3. nicefox1 says:

    10/10 this is gonna end the same as blackberry app store

  4. If creators have to pay for Close Captioning this is going to take it out of the sight of new or up and coming content creators. I hope that they can figure and easy way to handle this, Even if it is just making the creator correct the auto captioning. It will then grow quickly.

  5. Linda Nelson says:

    We are really excited to be part of this. If you search “Indie Rights” on Amazon Prime, you’ll see all our great movies.

  6. Interested to see how they handle Content ID (i.e. users uploading and monetizing content created and owned by others). Facebook botched this for years and pissed a lot of creators off and have just recently taken somewhat serious steps to address it, but if Amazon thinks they can follow in the steps of FB and ignore the issue for the first few years, it’s going to be extremely difficult for them to attract any real talent.

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