Amazon has launched a full-scale attack on YouTube with its new Video Direct program for content creators.
Video Direct is aimed at both large media brands and individual creators, and offers several ways for them to make money beyond just advertising.
For example, creators can distribute ad-free videos to Amazon Prime subscribers and earn revenue based on hours streamed. They can also offer add-on subscriptions for Prime subscribers (just as streaming services such as Starz and Showtime do already.) Standalone rental and purchase options are available as well through Amazon Video, along with a basic ad-supported model.
To sweeten the deal for big video makers, Amazon will give away $1 million per month to the top 100 Video Direct titles on Amazon Prime. The company has already enlisted some big media brands, including Conde Nast, HowStuffWorks, The Guardian, Mattel, and Machinima. The program is available to creators now.
One big question remains, however: How does Amazon plan to put this new stable of videos in front of its users? Today, Amazon Video and Amazon Prime are geared toward major productions from Hollywood studios, not shorter clips from a long tail of content creators. Balancing these different types of video could be a major challenge as Amazon uses its existing platform to build out a YouTube rival.
Why this matters: These days, it seems everyone wants a piece of YouTube’s business. Facebook has been cultivating a video platform on its social network and is now introducing more ways to monetize, while longtime YouTube rival Vimeo recently acquired VHX to help push subscription streaming video. Verizon and Comcast have been taking shots at YouTube as well with their own short-form video services. Amazon’s pitch is unique, however, in that it already has its own streaming video services, and is letting creators make money in many of the same ways. Now it just has to get creators—and viewers—to start paying attention.