Amazon has launched a self-publishing platform for video creators, a move that could make money for the company and budding filmmakers in the same way YouTube has created a community of online celebrities.
Amazon Video Direct, which kicked off Tuesday, shares money with video creators through the method they choose: ads, subscriptions, rentals, or simply by the number of hours streamed to tens of millions of subscribers of Amazon Prime.
Amazon keeps about half the revenue, or if the video is restricted to Prime, it pays a set fee of 15 cents per hour viewed in the U.S.
CNET editor Dan Ackerman said the most surprising thing about Amazon's move is that it took the company so long to do it. "Other people have been doing this sort of user-generated video for a long time," he told "CBS This Morning" on Wednesday.
The new platform will allow Amazon to expand its video offerings without having to invest in the high cost of producing more original shows. "Making TV shows is very expensive," Ackerman said. "Amazon is hoping to lure in people who are making pretty pro-level stuff -- they're looking for, you know, professional, high-level content here -- and they'll say, 'Oh, we'll pay you later,' based on either an advertising revenue share or based on the number of hours people watch."
He said it comes down to "a way to get good quality content and not pay for it up front."
Several production companies made videos available Tuesday including Baby Einstein, Pro Guitar Lessons and Conde Nast.
The service allows creators to publish videos in the U.S., Great Britain, Germany, Japan and Austria.