Could a new video service from Amazon pose a threat to Google's YouTube? With its estimated 54 million Prime members in the U.S., Amazon doesn't come close to YouTube's billion-plus users around the world, but it appears to be making a play to take on YouTube with today's launch of a new program, Amazon Video Direct (AVD).
Describing it as "a new self-service program for creators and storytellers," Amazon said AVD will provide a wide variety of video makers with access to its Prime audience. Users who submit videos to AVD will be able to earn revenue either through an ad-supported model or by offering their titles for rent or purchase.
In addition, video creators can offer their works via add-on subscriptions through Amazon's Streaming Partners Program. Amazon is also introducing a companion program called AVD Stars that will give creators of each month's top videos a share of a $1 million bonus fund.
Royalties Based on Hours Streamed
"AVD content creators will earn royalties based on the number of hours their content streams, and they can choose to make their titles available in any country where Amazon Video is available to expand their customer reach," Amazon said in a post on its blog today. Those countries include the U.S., Austria, Germany, Japan and the U.K.
Videos by AVD users will be available via a variety of devices. In addition to being viewable on the Web or with iOS or Android mobile devices, videos can be watched using Amazon's Fire TV and Fire tablets, connected televisions and game consoles.
Users who submit videos through AVD will also get access to performance metrics such as number of subscribers, number of minutes streamed and projected revenues. This data will help them "optimize the way they offer and promote content to customers," Amazon said.
Video a Growing Part of Amazon's Business
Amazon Video is a movie- and TV program-streaming service that's included as part of an Amazon Prime membership. While the company doesn't publicly reveal how many subscribers Prime has, the firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners in February estimated that the service's U.S. membership was around 54 million, which reflected a 35 percent increase over its 2015 membership of 40 million.
YouTube has more than 1 billion users across more than 88 countries, according to its latest user statistics. Viewing times on YouTube have grown by around 50 percent annually for the past three years, and the company said revenues earned by its video partners have also grown by similar rates over that time.
Amazon seems to believe its new video program could make a dent in those figures, and some users appear to agree. Posting on Amazon's Video Games user forum earlier today, one user wrote, "I know numerous You[T]ubers have been wanting to take their business elsewhere but don't really have any worthwhile options out there. I could very easily see many adopting an Amazon Channel to upload to alongside their You[T]ube channel then eventually make their way over to Amazon if that's a better deal for their business."
In addition to growing its video streaming, rental and sales offerings, Amazon has also moved into independent video production with exclusive TV series like "Transparent." Over the past couple years, the company has also acquired video-streaming technology companies like Twitch, purchased for $970 million in 2014, and Elemental, bought for $500 million in September.
Companies already partnering with AVD upon the program's launch include Conde Nast Entertainment, HowStuffWorks, Samuel Goldwyn Films, The Guardian, Mashable, Mattel, Baby Einstein and Pro Guitar Lessons.
Image Credit: Screenshot of Amazon Video Direct via Amazon.