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AMAZON TAKES ON YOUTUBE WITH NEW VIDEO SERVICE

YouTube, long viewed as a bully by rights holders, is about to be challenged by something closer to its own size.

E-commerce giant Amazon has launched Amazon Video Direct, which is open to any video creator and will compete head-to-head with Google-owned YouTube for ad dollars and views, Variety reports.

Partners participating in Amazon Video Direct have four distribution options, the Variety report points out. Their content can be made available to Prime Video subscribers and receive a per-hour royalty fee; it can be sold as an add-on subscription through the Streaming Partners Program; it can be offered for digital rental or purchase; or it can be made available to all Amazon customers for free with ads, a la YouTube, with creators getting a 55% cut of the ad revenue.

Amazon will pay its partners 50% of the retail price for digital purchases, rentals and subscription fees. If they choose Prime Video distribution, creators will earn royalties of 15 cents per hour streamed in the U.S. and 6 cents in other territories (capped at $75k per year) under the standard terms. As an added incentive to partners to add their content to Prime Video, Amazon is also offering a bonus of $1 million per month to reward top-performing video creators; the program has been dubbed “AVD Stars.”

“There are more options for distribution than ever before and 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,” Amazon Video VP Jim Freeman said in announcing the initiative. “We’re excited to make it even easier for content creators to find an audience, and for that audience to find great content.”

Partners at launch include Conde Nast Entertainment, Samuel Goldwyn Films, The Guardian, Mashable, Business Insider, Baby Einstein, Mattel, StyleHaul, HowStuffWorks, CJ Entertainment America, Xive TV, Synergetic Distribution and Journeyman Pictures.

Video publishers can sign up for Amazon Video Direct at videodirect.amazon.com. The Prime Video streaming service is available in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Austria and Japan.

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