THE SUCCESS AND FAILURES OF AMAZON DISTRIBUTION
Amazon distribution is a distribution platform where filmmakers can share/distribute their video content via Amazon video direct or Amazon prime. Amazon allows the content creator to gain royalty from streaming hours from prime members, a portion of income from purchases, rentals, monthly channels or ad impressions, hereby leading to multiple sources of revenue generation for filmmakers and content creators.
Amazon distribution is one of the most filmmaker friendly distribution methods in existent till date. According to filmakingstuff.com, “Amazon film distribution offers one of easiest methods for indie filmmakers to get their films into thousands of households throughout the world. And unlike most motion picture marketplaces, Amazon Video Direct works directly with filmmakers. This means you DO NOT need to deal with sales agents, distributors or aggregators to get your content into the marketplace.” This saves the filmmakers from so much hassle and stress compounded from negotiating with sales agent and less pressure for in getting a traditional distribution.
This paper will be focused on the Success and Failures of Amazon distribution platform including subscription video on demand and Transactional video on demand. SVOD also known as subscription video on demand is when viewers with a paid subscription have access to wide variety of contents, a good example is Hulu, Netflix and amazon prime video. TVOD on the other hand, also known as transactional video on demand is when viewers are required to either rent or make a purchase in order to gain access to a particular video content. An example of this would be sky box office, Amazon video store not included in prime membership, Apple’s iTunes, YouTube movies and google play movies. According to the Hollywood reporter, “amazon Partners can release projects via Amazon Prime, sell them through a stand-alone subscription, charge for rental or purchase, or offer them free with ads”. Terms vary based on the release strategy, Sounds very exciting for indie filmmakers, right?
This paper will now be focusing on the Advantages and disadvantages which has led to success and failures of Amazon distribution.
Advantages of Amazon distribution
· No sales agent or aggregator needed.
· Amazon promotes movies to its users more effectively than other streaming platforms
· Big audience with amazon prime membership.
· No Contract involved
· 6 cent per viewer as opposed to previous 15 cents per viewer
No sales agent or aggregator needed
Amazon is one of those few platforms that require no sales agent and equally no aggregator. Sales agent are usually very important in the distribution stage of a film project. According to Medi Match.com “A Sales Agent represents filmmakers who want to distribute their films, and who may be first time directors, or directors who work outside of major studio productions. Sales Agents will work with filmmakers to help develop a strategy for marketing the film they want to distribute.” This sales agent usually are the ones that do all the running around, figuring out the distribution strategy. They give sales estimates for GAP loans, push your films to distributors and they take a cut of the revenue made from distribution. Sales agent fee ranges between 15 to 25 percent which amounts to a lot. Amazon distributes your film through their SVOD and TVOD without a filmmaker bothering about these costs and the stress behind it. Aggregators is another important factor in film distribution. Aggregators are third party company that help a filmmaker in getting his film distributed in services and platforms like iTunes, google play etc.
Amazon video direct makes it very easy for filmmakers to submit their film although there are some high standards and quality the film has to ascertain. Nonetheless it is a lot easier getting your film out there on the amazon distribution platform.
Another point that has resulted in success for Amazon and their filmmakers is the simple fact that they promote their contents effectively to their subscribers compared to a host of streaming platforms, including giving you a more tailored movie or tv recommendation. Amazon seem to have better algorithm in in figuring out their user’s movie needs based on their previous viewing. A host of other platforms such as iTunes would rather most of the time push to you the hottest movies, most popular or their top 100 movies leaving the smaller budget indie filmmaker buried under the sand. No one ends up discovering these small budget movies. Amazon on the other hand will cater for their small indie filmmakers by recommending their projects to users with smaller budgets. If their user happens to enjoy and continuously watch low budget film, they will recommend that based on his or her taste. Although other platforms like Netflix and Hulu do a good job by their recommendations, Amazon just curates their user recommendations in such a way that there is a playing field for the small projects.
Another advantage that has led to the success of Amazon distribution is the big audience with prime membership. There are 112 Amazon prime subscribers between just 2013 – 2019. These users have access to Amazon’s SVOD services for no additional cost. This is a large audience, resulting to a lot of users potentially coming across your movie one way or another. Although Amazon TVOD offers more in royalty, SVOD services and TVOD are still both a strong distribution model for Amazon.
Now we have to move to the disadvantages and areas that have led to failure from amazon distribution, because all that glitters isn’t gold.
Amazon offers you no contract when you upload your film on their platform meaning that they dictate and control what happens to your project and equally the flow of royalties. They are not obliged to you and they have all the power. You basically are at their mercy. They can pull out your film or even cut royalty figures as they have done just recently. The business is completely one sided. This is what exactly happens when a distribution platform does not keep its so-called partners on contract. Seeing how desperate indie filmmakers can get when seeking distribution and with not so many distribution outlets out there, this gives amazon and other streaming platforms monopoly where they can dictate and do as they please. Amazon as a company has a bad track record in dealing with its partners or employees, so one has to have it in the back of his head that you can get screwed at any time leading to uncertainty. One must not only focus on Amazon as its sole distribution outlet. Leading to the next point which is Amazon royalty.
According to the Hollywood reporter, “Amazon pays U.S. partners either 0.06cents (was 0.15 cents) per hour streamed or 50 percent of revenue generated. 0.06 is a 60% decrease in the former rate they paid for content. Filmmakers have begun to ask themselves if it is still worth it. If you’re thinking amazon distribution will recoup your budget or close to your budget, you might be completely mistaken.
At the end of it all you have to put everything into clear consideration and thought, to figure out if Amazon is the right distribution channel for you. As discussed in this paper there are good success’ to Amazon distribution and also failures which filmmakers and content creators have to look out for and prep for.
Brubaker, Jason. “The indie filmmakers guide to Amazon distribution”.
https://www.filmmakingstuff.com/amazon-film-distribution/ , June 26, 2020
“Helping studios, distributors and independent filmmakers reach audience worldwide”.
“What sales agent do”. Media Match.
Jarvey, Natalie. “How to make money of Amazon’s little-known video services”.