Amazon began this week with the surprise announcement of their new Video Direct video sharing platform. The new platform allows any content creator to upload original videos to Amazon's streaming video service. Of course, this new offering sounds a lot like Google's behemoth video sharing platform, YouTube. However, while the announcement is widely hailed as a direct assault on YouTube's dominance in the user-generated video sharing space, the positioning of Amazon Video Direct is actually a bit more complex.
YouTube is well known for making it easy for the average person to share and monetize video content. It's simple to set up an account and start uploading right away. With Amazon Video Direct on the other hand, there are several additional hurdles to clear before you can get your content to the masses.
First, it's important to understand that Amazon Video Direct is all about monetization, which accounts for most of the extra steps needed to get started on the platform, such as providing company, bank and tax information. On YouTube, monetization is optional, but on AVD, there's really no way around it. Your video will be monetized, be it through ads, an add-on subscription model, inclusion in Amazon Prime or a direct purchase or rental.
On top of that, before a video can be published to the AVD platform, all kind of meta data such as catalog information and cast and crew details must be provided, adding significant time to the uploading process. Further complicating things, creators must also provide captions for their videos before they will be published, even for content that does not contain dialogue.
As we all know, YouTube is filled with an incredible variety of video content, with everything from grainy, vertically shot cat videos to highly polished, professionally produced web series. Amazon, while open to a variety of content including scripted series, movies, documentaries music videos and more, seems to be more focused on high-quality, sellable work produced by serious creators. This is great for professional independent creators looking for a more monetizations options, but for those YouTubers just looking to share highlights from their latest vacation to Costa Rica, there is substantially less appeal.
It’s easy to point to YouTube as primary competition for Amazon’s new service. AVD certainly poses a threat to the video sharing giant, but in the end AVD may actually be closer to a democratized Netflix, where creators of high quality video take their content when they are looking for a profit. In any case, it will certainly be interesting to see how the AVD platform develops.
For more information, visit videodirect.amazon.com.