Look out, YouTube and Facebook: Amazon’s coming for video publishers

YouTube and Facebook get a bulk of the attention from digital publishers looking to build and scale video businesses. Meanwhile, for the past year, Amazon has built a platform that not only offers publishers another place to distribute videos but also the opportunity to make money from day one.

Last year, Amazon opened up its Prime streaming platform to video publishers and creators of all sizes, allowing them to distribute individual videos, themed video collections, entire seasons of shows and even their subscription channels. Called Amazon Video Direct, the program gives participating publishers access to the estimated 79 million people who pay for Prime in the U.S. alone.

One publisher in the Amazon Video Direct program said it earned mid-five figures on Amazon during its first month on the program last year — nearly four times the amount it made from YouTube ad sales during the same month. “That was an eye-opener, and we’ve been putting up more titles [on Amazon] since then,” said this publishing exec.

Amazon itself said the Video Direct program paid out “tens of millions of dollars” in royalties in its first year, with “billions of minutes” streamed.

“We are encouraged by the positive response and adoption from content creators, as well as the high level of engagement by Amazon Video customers,” said Eric Orme, head of Amazon Video Direct.

Video publishers have a number of ways to make money from the Amazon Video Direct program. If they choose to distribute individual videos and shows within the Amazon Prime subscription video service, they get paid 15 cents per hour streamed in the U.S. and 6 cents per hour streamed in the U.K., Germany and Japan. Publishers also have the option to sell individual movies, shows and video packages to customers, retaining 50 percent of all revenue made from purchases or rentals. There’s also an ad-supported, free portal, through which Amazon pays out 55 cents to every dollar generated from pre-roll ads. Finally, they can sell add-on subscriptions.

Very little revenue is coming in from the ad-supported side at the moment, according to multiple sources. However, the dollars generated from distributing inside the Prime subscription service, while fluctuating month to month, are proving to be noticeable. It’s enough money that HowStuffWorks started to produce long-form shows last year that can be distributed on Amazon.

Comedy studio Jash, meanwhile, is seeing enough revenue from Amazon that it plans to publish new episodes of “Norm Macdonald Live,” its comedy talk show with the famous comedian, on Amazon the day they premiere.



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