Amazon Launches Its Own YouTube-Like Service: Amazon Video Direct

Amazon already squares off against Netflix and iTunes in the streaming video subscription and rental marketplaces, so it’s probably not a shock that Amazon now has YouTube in its sights with a new platform for amateur moviemakers called Amazon Direct Video.

The “self-service” program aims to allow video creators — who have an Amazon account —  to upload original or licensed videos to the service to reach a wider audience and earn money from royalties and advertising, Amazon said an announcement for the service on Tuesday.

Video creators, who will earn royalties from their videos based on minutes streamed, can choose how their content is viewable through Direct Video, including allowing viewers to stream, download, rent, or buy videos.

Creators can also bundle multiple videos together — a la Netflix — or present their videos in a TV-like “season” format that sells as a subscription add-on.

“For the first time, there’s a self-service option for video providers to get their content into a premium streaming subscription service,” Jim Freeman, VP of Amazon Video, said in a statement.

Amazon says that content producers can earn extra funds from their content through the AVD Stars program.

The program will distribute $1 million a month to the makers of the 100 most popular programs videos within the AVD service. Video creators and providers who use AVD to make their titles available in Prime Video will automatically be enrolled.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon said it will keep 45% of revenue it takes in from ads appearing during free broadcasts. It will also keep 50% of revenue from channel subscriptions and video purchases or rentals. Prime videos without ads will net content providers $0.15 for each hour streamed in the U.S. and $0.06 per hour overseas.

The new service, which will be available through Amazon’s video app, set-top boxes like Roku, or the Amazon website, could prove to be a competitor with YouTube, where video creators have long posted original content.

While YouTube has nearly one billion viewers, Amazon says its service will provide content makers with an already robust audience of tens of millions of Prime members who get video streaming as part of their subscription. It’s unclear how Amazon plans to monitor the service or handle instances in which video makers may upload content that isn’t theirs.