Amazon is positioning Video Direct as a place where sophisticated video creators should set up shop.
The people who make YouTube worth watching aren't quite ready to defect to Amazon.
Announced yesterday, Amazon Video Direct is being dangled in front of "creators and storytellers" as a way to get their videos in front of Amazon's vast audience, ultimately making more money off the increased exposure. And while Amazon happily trotted out some of the biggest names in YouTube, including Machinima and Jash, as having already signed onto Video Direct, it's the yeoman YouTubers creating videos outside of the PewDiePie or Michelle Phan hype cycle that will determine the success of Amazon's efforts.
"To be honest it might be more trouble than it's worth," Joe Redifer, co-host of YouTube gaming show Game Sack, told Motherboard. To Redifer, whose channel has more than 150,000 subscribers, making videos available for other platforms sounds appealing on the surface, but not if fans don't make the move as well. "People are used to everything being in one place," he said, "[and] Amazon will need to make sure its videos are easily embedded on other sites and can be watched without issue on mobile devices."
Redifer noted that he's willing to upload a test video to see how it does on Amazon's platform, but that some aspects, like Amazon's requirement that videos have captions, may interfere with his already-established workflow.
"YouTube is the 800lb gorilla in video streaming and for good reason: It's powerful, easily shareable, and has a HUGE community of passionate viewers," YouTuber Metal Jesus Rocks, whose video game channel has nearly 250,000 subscribers, told Motherboard. Metal Jesus Rocks, whose first name is Jason, stressed that it's YouTube shareability that has helped turn the platform into a huge success.
"I assume the community aspect of the video comments and feedback would be lost on Amazon," he said, noting that he's willing to at least test Amazon's platform to see how it performs for him.
Coury Carlson, who co-hosts YouTube gaming channel My Life in Gaming, which has more than 20,000 subscribers, was more optimistic about Amazon's chances, noting that some fellow YouTubers have run into problems with that platform's fair use policies and may be growing tired of battling takedown notices. "Even though we haven't been affected by it, this last year has really shown the flaws in [YouTube's] armor with the whole fair use thing.""It's worth a shot, right?" said Carlson, noting that he would also be willing to host videos on Amazon at least as an experiment, citing Amazon's ready-and-waiting audience of Amazon Prime subscribers (Amazon says it has "tens of millions" of Prime subscribers). "To be honest, if anyone has a shot at dethroning YouTube, it's Amazon."