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Amazon launches new video platform

Amazon has announced its intention to be the next YouTube, opening up its video platform to “creators and storytellers.” Launching this week, Amazon Video Direct is expected to prove a popular proposition to media networks who are finding that revenue opportunities on YouTube are increasingly limited (YouTube snaps up 45 per cent of all on-site ad revenues). As Steven Oh, COO for online news programme The Young Turks, tells Digiday: “The fact is that the money you get from YouTube ad sales is just not enough to sustain a business.”

Amazon Video account holders will have the ability to upload video content, and can choose from a variety of streaming models, such as placing videos behind Amazon Prime’s paywall, making them available to rent or buy, or simply sharing them for free. Publishers will receive the same share of ad revenue as they would on YouTube — 55 per cent — but Amazon Video Direct offers an additional six cents per hour streamed globally, which rises to 15 cents in the US.


“Unlike YouTube and Facebook, Amazon Video is not an especially social platform,” says Victor Luckerson at TIME. “It’s hard to imagine a star like video gamer PewDiePie emerging on Amazon Video Direct.”

And yes, it’s true that Amazon is ten years behind YouTube when it comes to this space ­— but it appears to be targeting professional creators and publishers with this service, rather than the bedroom vlogger crowd. Launching this week, the service will feature videos from content partners Condé Nast, Mashable, Business Insider, The Guardian, Samuel Goldwyn Films, Machinima, and toy brand Mattel, which will sit alongside Amazon-exclusive series such as Transparent and Mr Robot.

Just last month, Amazon stepped up its rivalry with Netflix by lowering its month-by-month subscription price. But it is going to take more than the low costs we’ve come to expect from Amazon to make this new programme a success. Still, even if the revenues from Amazon Video Direct prove less than lucrative, it still has exciting potential for brand-building and eCommerce; each video is hypothetically a call to action for a purchase.

“Think of this like a Trojan horse to bring you into the kingdom of Amazon, which is a massive shopping mall,” says Peter Csarthy, CEO of Manatt Digital Media Ventures, adding; “It really underscores how video has become the battleground in tech.”

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