Amazon just declared war on YouTube

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Can it win?
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Amazon is already battling Netflix and Spotify and plenty of other content providers, but it wants an even bigger challenge. The retail giant today unveiled Amazon Video Direct, a sharing platform that’s taking the fight to YouTube.

YouTube was already wildly successful when it was acquired by Google in 2006, but it has become an even greater behemoth since. It now boasts more than 1 billion users and sees in excess of 4 billion views every single day — and Amazon wants to take it down.

Amazon Video Direct, like YouTube, lets users upload videos and earn royalties from them. It will host homemade clips uploaded by the average Joe, as well as content from partners like Condé Nast, The Guardian, Mashable, and Mattel.

Video creators will be able to make their content available in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Austria, and Japan initially — but not all will be free.

Uploaders will be able to choose whether their clips are free to everyone and supported by ads, available to rent or own, or placed behind a subscription paywall. Others may only be available to those who pay the $99-per-year fee for Amazon Prime.

This makes Video Direct more than just a video sharing platform. By allowing paywalls, Amazon is also making the service more suitable for premium content like TV shows and movies — but the company wants a big cut of the revenues generated.

Like Google parent company Alphabet, Amazon will take 45 percent of the revenue generated by ads that appear during free videos, but that cut will increase to 50 percent for content that requires a subscription or rental fee.

Amazon’s new service, which is available today to those in the countries listed above, comes after it made Prime Video more accessibly by introducing a standalone subscription fee, so users no longer have to pay yearly for Amazon Prime to gain access to it.