Amazon Launches YouTube Competitor, Amazon Video Direct

Amazon today announced the launch of Amazon Video Direct (AVD), a head-to-head competitor with Google's YouTube platform. Amazon touts it as a service that gives video providers a self-service way to reach Amazon's huge customer base including the coveted Prime members. Individual creators and professional video story tellers can earn royalties based on hours streamed, videos rented or purchased and subscriptions.

What's interesting is that videos uploaded as part of AVD will be available to consumers via Amazon Video where there is also unique series content, movies, TV shows and Showtime and Starz programming. AVD is clearly a big part of Amazon's strategy to be the epicenter of Internet TV where cable and satellite middlemen are replaced.

Video providers, both professional and amateur, can have their videos included in Prime Video at no charge to Prime members, available as an add-on subscription, offered as a one-time rental or purchase or make them available to all Amazon customers with ads. If a video producer chooses the ad-supported option Amazon will give the provider 55% of the revenue which is the same as YouTube. For purchases, rentals and subscription AVD will split revenue 50-50 and for videos provided free to Prime members Amazon will pay $.15 per streaming hour topping out at $75K per year.

“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.”

In order to attract the best talent from YouTube and other video platforms Amazon is creating a $1 million monthly fund that will be used to distribute bonuses for producing the most watched videos above what video makers will already earn on the platform. Amazon is calling it the AVD Stars Program. This is designed to steal YouTube celebrities and will lead to bidding wars for today's video stars.

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. Their content is now available on Amazon Video.