Amazon Video Direct is where YouTube meets Kindle Direct Publishing, the tech giant’s self-publishing service for books. The move highlights Amazon’s knack for breaking down most forms of gatekeeping that have traditionally ruled cultural industries, from books to movies.
Amazon.com has launched a self-serve marketplace for video that lets pretty much anybody upload content and make money off it. It’s where YouTube meets Kindle Direct Publishing, the tech giant’s self-publishing service for books.
The launch of Amazon Video Direct, announced Tuesday, highlights the company’s knack for breaking down most forms of gatekeeping that have traditionally ruled cultural industries, from books to movies.
Amazon Studios, its movie production arm, already invites wannabe screenwriters to submit scripts and concepts online. KDP, the self-publishing service, has unleashed countless independent authors, some of whom have been wildly successful.
It’s unlikely Amazon is looking for a way to dethrone Google’s YouTube, the primary force that makes Google the top online video property, attracting 182 million unique U.S. viewers in February, according to comScore.
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But Amazon seems to draw inspiration from YouTube and its endless buffet of content as a way to boost its own video library, a critical cog in the Prime membership money machine, with lots of new content it doesn’t have to produce or purchase.
Amazon also mixes in well-tested techniques from its toolbox — a self-service platform that lets creators decide how to share their content and how to charge for it, while Amazon collects a sometimes hefty toll.
Wall Street appears to have liked the news — or at least didn’t mind it.Amazon shares rose to a record $701.92, up more than 3 percent, after the announcement, which coincided with a dramatic prediction by Bernstein analysts that the stock will hit $1,000 in 12 months, far higher than the average price target. The stock ended the day at $703.07, its highest close ever.
The company’s market capitalization now exceeds $334 billion.
Video producers can choose between having their shows and videos offered to Prime subscribers at no additional charge; then Amazon pays them royalties based on hours viewed (in the U.S., it’s 15 cents per hour).
Creators can also have their video be viewed for free with ads (they collect 55 percent of the ad revenue and Amazon the rest).
Producers can also set up their own subscription channels a la HBO, charging customers a monthly subscription fee (Amazon takes half the revenue).
And those content creators who decide to sell or rent out their videos get half the proceeds.
Additionally, Amazon will spread $1 million a month among the top 100 titles shown at no charge to Prime users. The money is prorated based on how many people view the titles.
The service opens the gates to amateur and professional video creators with valid Amazon accounts in Germany, the U.K., the U.S. and Japan.
Greg Ireland, an analyst with research firm IDC, says the service will help diversify Amazon’s video shelf, bringing to it a lot of nontraditional content — in short form, or created for the Web — favored by younger audiences raised on a YouTube diet.
The service is also a boon for content creators, because they have more control of their distribution and monetization strategies. “It may not have the audience size today that YouTube has, but it certainly gives more flexibility to content partners,” Ireland said.
The initiative could help more providers become economically sustainable, he added.
Mattel and Samuel Goldwyn are among several major content producers to have already uploaded content through Amazon Video Direct at the time of the launch. Others include Condé Nast Entertainment, Mashable, Business Insider and The Guardian.
“The upload and publishing process is easy and fast, and we can directly monitor our streaming performance through our online dashboard,” said Andrea Carpenter, senior director for global content marketing and distribution at Mattel, in a news release. Mattel’s shows include “Thomas & Friends,” “Fireman Sam” and “Pingu.”
Peter Goldwyn, president of Samuel Goldwyn Films, said the service gives the studio “the control to create the unique distribution strategies that reflect the changing ways in which our audiences discover our films.”