It looks like Amazon is taking a page from the YouTube playbook.
The internet giant is rolling out Amazon Video Direct (AVD), a new service that will allow content creators to upload their own videos that can be streamed by Amazon Prime members at no extra cost. The service will also be available as an add-on to the five-month-old Streaming Partners Program, as a one-time rental/purchase, and to all Amazon customers (even those who do not subscribe to Prime) through an ad-supported platform.
Creators will earn royalties based on minutes streamed, and they can choose to make their content available in the US, the UK, Germany, Austria and Japan. Details related to the revenue-share model or royalties for AVD participants have yet to be released. What is known, though, are some of the names already attached to the new service, which include toymaker Mattel, MCN StyleHaul, Conde Nast, HowStuffWorks and Samuel Goldwyn Films.
Amazon has been steadily building up its reputation as a source for premium content─something it is banking on to attract creators.
To date, the SVOD landscape has divided itself into two streams. There are the premium, cable-like platforms, such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, which commission and purchase programming much the way traditional TV broadcasters do. They share the space with creator-based SVODs, such as YouTube Red, Vessel and Vimeo, which allow creators and producers to maintain some level of control over the distribution of their content.
Amazon Prime pulls in a reported 54 million subscribers in the US, which is relatively even with Netflix’s US subscriber numbers, although the reported total refers to subscribers to the entire range of Prime’s services, not necessarily those regularly using the SVOD service. But beyond the numbers, Amazon has received praise and a number of awards for its original content.
Through AVD, however, Amazon is giving up a level of quality control to potentially gain access to creators who will bring with them heaps of devoted fans.
As an incentive to this creative class, Amazon has introduced its AVD Stars program, which gives creators a share of US$1 million per month based on customer engagement with their titles. Video creators and providers who use AVD to make their titles available on Prime Video will automatically be enrolled, and Amazon will distribute the bonus between the top 100 AVD titles, in addition to any other revenues earned.