In addition to expanding their viewership to Amazon's audience
and opening up a pay-per-video revenue stream, producers would
receive branded pages on Amazon that would promote their videos,
similar to a show page on Hulu or a channel on YouTube.
No deals have been signed, and one source said that Amazon execs
have put the some of the conversations on hold until 2014. An
Amazon spokesperson declined to comment.
Amazon is separately pitching a handful of online video networks
and media companies on running their editorial videos on product
search pages in exchange for a cut of advertising revenue based on
video views, sources said. For example, a network with a library of
video gaming or how-to videos would display that content to people
searching Amazon.com for related products. Amazon
unveiled these so-called native video ads last month during
Advertising Week, but aimed the short-form video units at brand
marketers, not producers.
If and when Amazon does add short-form videos -- beyond
currently available ones like video ads and movie trailers sourced
from Amazon-owned movie site IMDb -- the e-commerce giant would be
stepping up to online video's goliath, YouTube. The Google-owned
video service receives 1 billion unique viewers a month who combine
to watch 6 billion hours of video.
To date no other digital video service has been able to rival
YouTube's dominance. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon have focused on
longer videos like movies and TV shows, but Amazon, which
originated as an online bookstore, has a reputation of not leaving
any potential business untapped.
"Amazon, Target, Walmart -- name the company,
they're all going to be in this [short-form video] business. It's
not a question of if but when," said Michael Kassan, CEO of
The addition of short-form videos to Amazon's arsenal would not
only beef up its position against YouTube, but would round it out
as a competitor to any and every digital video service. The
e-commerce giant already sells digital video downloads to compete
with Apple's iTunes and streams on-demand to compete with Netflix
"Now it's adding this third piece and will end up really being
the only provider that's effectively in all three of those video
businesses," said Forrester Research principal analyst James
For Amazon to legitimately contend with YouTube would be
dependent on the volume of short-form video it acquires. "That
overarching goal of Amazon to create the one video service to rule
them all is the right goal, but a handful of YouTube videos won't
get you quite there," Mr. McQuivey said.
Amazon doesn't disclose the number of people who watch videos
via its services, but the company claims to have more than 150,000
movies and TV episodes in its streaming library.
However, Amazon is widely considered the best suited to rival
YouTube. "The biggest threat to YouTube is Amazon," said Mark
Suster, partner at venture capital firm Upfront Ventures and
investor in one of YouTube's biggest networks Maker Studios,
at an online video conference in August. Mr. Suster added that
high-level executives at Amazon understand its potential "but just
have other priorities right now."
Amazon's short-form push wouldn't necessarily be bad news for
YouTube, which regularly claims that creators distributing their
videos outside of YouTube is good for YouTube. Mr. McQuivey said it
would "probably be one of the best things to happen to YouTube
because they haven't had to spend a lot of time and attention
really helping [producers] succeed because those people haven't had