Amazon targets creators with AVD

The internet giant's latest offering lets users upload and distribute their own content to Prime members, with a chance to earn royalties based on viewing time.
May 10, 2016

Amazon appears to be taking a page out of the YouTube playbook.

The Internet giant is rolling out a new service for creators that will allow them to upload their own videos for Amazon Prime members to stream. 

Amazon Video Direct (AVD), available at no extra charge for Prime members, will also be available as an add-on to its Streaming Partners Program, as well as a one-time rental/purchase. It will also be available to all Amazon customers – even those who do not subscribe to Prime – through an ad-supported platform, according to a company release.

Creators will earn royalties based on the minutes streamed and acan make their titles available in any of the countries where Amazon Prime is available, including the U.S., Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom and Japan. According to the home page for the new service, creators can “choose to earn royalties based on hours streamed by Prime members, a revenue share for rentals, purchases, monthly subscriptions, or ad impressions – or any combination of these options.”

Amazon Prime has made big moves to build its reputation as a source of premium content, something it is banking on to attract creators. “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,” said Jim Freeman, VP of Amazon Video, in a statement.

To date, the SVOD landscape has divided itself into two streams: the premium, cable-like platforms, such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, which commission and purchase programming much the way traditional TV might; and the creator-based SVODs, such as YouTube Red, Vessel and Vimeo, which allows creators to maintain some degree of control over what content they upload.

Amazon Prime pulls in a reported  54 million subscribers in the U.S., relatively even with Netflix’s U.S. subscribers (although the reported total refers to subscribers to the entire range of Prime’s services, not necessarily those regularly using the SVOD). But beyond the numbers, the streaming service has received heaps of praise, and a number of awards, for its premium content. Shows like the multi-Emmy award-winning Transparent have been credited with helping grow the platform’s subscriber base.

Through AVD, however, Amazon is giving up quality control of the content, but in return is potentially gaining access to creators who bring with them heaps of devoted fans.

As an incentive to pull in creators, Amazon also announced its AVD Stars program, which gives creators a share out of a pool of US$1 million per month, based on customer engagement with their title. Amazon will distribute the bonus based on on the top 100 AVD titles. This will be on top of other revenue earned.

At present, most of the partners joining the program for launch are in the MCN-MPN camp, with content distributors such as Kino Nation, brands such as Mattel and media companies delving into video content, such as The Guardian, also on board. StyleHaul has confirmed its participation in AVD, promising to bring a selection of original series, including the Emmy-nominated Vanity (pictured), to the platform. Other launch partners include Condé Nast Entertainment, HowStuffWorks, Kin Community, Machinima, TYT Networks, Pro Guitar Networks, Jash, Business Insider and producer-distributor Samuel Goldwyn Films.

(From Stream Daily, with files from Barry Walsh)


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