May 10, 2016 Last Updated 2:51 pm

Amazon launches Amazon Video Direct, a new self-service program for video creators

Publishers can sign up through the new portal in a matter of minutes, but the agreement shows that Amazon plans to take a big chunk of the revenue from any sales that result

The online retailer Amazon has launched a new video program called Amazon Video Direct which some reporters are comparing to YouTube, though it looks to these eyes to really about creating a new video marketplace rather than a place for free videos – though it may be that, too.

Amazon’s service is very easy to sign up for, if you are a digital publisher. It took me all of five minutes to create an account, which includes signing the agreement (more on that in a minute), completing the contact form, and then completing the tax information.


That agreement contains one line that will grab your attention: “Amazon will pay to you 50% of the applicable Purchase Price.” So much for the standard 30 percent commission.

In the “Ad-supported Access License Fee” area it says “Amazon will pay you 55% of Net Advertising Receipts.”

Is the new service really a YouTube competitor? The press release below certainly isn’t geared towards the average Joe who wants to upload a video of their cat. And the fact that the account creation scheme is more commercial than creating a YouTube account is seems to point to professional content – but we’ll see.

For most publishers, the need is for ad revenue to be associated with video content, not to charge for video (though a few publishers are certainly moving in this direction). That Amazon is not as powerful an ad sales force as Google makes this option less appealing that having a YouTube channel, though there is no reason why you can’t do both. Hell, it seems everyone wants to take advantage of publisher’s content and profit from it. The problem, of course, is publishers rarely make much in return.

So, like its eBook programs, Amazon is not cutting its take, but instead throwing money into a pot to be shared by participants:

Amazon will distribute a share of $1,000,000 per month as a bonus to the Top 100 titles included with Prime through Amazon Video Direct. This bonus—based on global customer engagement—is incremental to revenue earned from hours streamed, rentals, purchases, monthly subscriptions, and ad impressions. All of your titles included with Prime are automatically eligible.

You’ll have to ask authors and self-publishers just how happy they have been with this “bonus” scheme.\

Here is the announcement from Amazon for Amazon Video Direct:

SEATTLE, Wash. – May 10, 2016 —  Amazon today announced an enhancement to Amazon Video: introducing Amazon Video Direct (AVD), a new self-service program for creators and storytellers to make their video content available to Amazon customers, including tens of millions of Prime members. Amazon Video is the only streaming service to offer customers unlimited access to tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes, including award-winning Amazon Original Series, through Prime Video; monthly subscriptions to SHOWTIME, STARZ, and more; and hundreds of thousands of titles including new-release movies and current TV shows for rent or purchase. With AVD, starting today, video providers have flexible self-service options for distributing their content:

  • Included in Prime Video at no additional charge to tens of millions of Prime members
  • Available as an add-on subscription through the Streaming Partners Program
  • Offered as a one-time rental price or a one-time purchase price
  • Available to all Amazon customers ad-supported

Specific benefits of Amazon Video Direct include:

  • Access to Amazon’s most engaged streaming audience—video providers can distribute their content directly to tens of millions of Prime members and earn royalties based on minutes streamed
  • Choice of how to share titles—video providers can utilize the different options Amazon Video uses to share content to customers
  • Expanded customer reach—video providers can choose to make their titles available in any country where Amazon Video is available—the United States, Germany, Austria, United Kingdom and Japan; with support for all the devices Amazon Video is available on—Fire TV, Fire and other iOS and Android tablets, connected TVs, game consoles, iOS and Android phones, and laptops
  • Insightful performance metrics—video providers are given performance metrics, such as number of minutes a title was streamed, projected revenue, payment history, or number of subscribers, so they can optimize the way they offer and promote content to customers; video providers have full control and the flexibility to make changes based on these metrics

“It’s an amazing time to be a content creator,” said Jim Freeman, Vice President of Amazon Video. “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. We’re excited to make it even easier for content creators to find an audience, and for that audience to find great content.”

Also launching today is the AVD Stars program, which gives video creators a share of one million dollars per month based on customer engagement with their title. Here’s how the program works: Amazon will distribute to creators a monthly bonus from the one million dollar monthly fund, based on the Top 100 AVD titles in Prime Video, in addition to any other revenue earned. Video creators and providers who use AVD to make their titles available in Prime Video will automatically be enrolled. The AVD Stars program launches today and the one million dollar monthly fund will make its first bonus distributions based on streaming activity from June 1st to June 30th.

“We are thrilled to bring a selection of our premium original series, including Emmy nominated Vanity, to one of the premiere ad-free subscription services,” said Mia Goldwyn, Chief Content Officer, StyleHaul. “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.”

“Amazon Video Direct helps us reach fans of our beloved preschool brands, including classic Thomas & Friends, Barney & FriendsAngelina BallerinaFireman Sam and Pingu, and get the content in front of Prime members faster than ever and into new territories,” said Andrea Carpenter, Senior Director, Global Content Marketing and Distribution, Mattel. “The upload and publishing process is easy and fast, and we can directly monitor our streaming performance through our online dashboard.”

“As a major, independently owned and operated motion-picture company, we’re excited to have the ability to distribute our films to Amazon customers around the globe,” said Peter Goldwyn, President of Samuel Goldwyn Films. “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. We can seamlessly make all our movies like Hyena Road, Somm: into the Bottle, Havana Motor Club, available to watch when and where our audiences want them. With Amazon Prime Video we have found an amazing home for films like The Benefactor with Richard Gere and Takeshi Miike’s Yakuza Apocalypse.”

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. Content from these providers can be found now on Amazon Video.

To learn more about Amazon Video Direct, visit Content creators and storytellers can start distributing their premium content today.

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