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Amazon’s New YouTube Competitor Requires Closed Captions

  • Amazon's New YouTube Competitor Requires Closed Captions

    Amazon announced the launch of a new video platform that is a direct challenge to YouTube: Amazon Video Direct (AVD).

    Like YouTube, Amazon Video Direct serves user-generated video content that the creators can monetize with advertising revenue and royalties.

    Unlike YouTube, Amazon wants to attract professional video producers for AVD. Content creators can choose to allow viewers to stream, download, rent, or buy their videos. They can also indicate if their content will be available only on Prime, for all Amazon users, or as an add-on, depending on their revenue model. AVD content will be available to view in any country and on any device that streams Amazon video.

    The only requirements for AVD content thus far are that videos must be HD and have closed captions.

    Instead of instituting a quality-review process, Amazon’s strategy for attracting professional video creators to AVD comes in the form of high-stakes incentives. The most striking incentive is Amazon’s offer to pay $1 million a month to the makers of the top 100 AVD programs viewed by Prime members.

    Amazon’s requirement that AVD videos have closed captions aligns with their closed captioning policy for Amazon Prime and Instant Video. All Prime videos are currently captioned, and Amazon is working to caption their entire back-catalog of Instant Videos by 2017.

    Amazon’s commitment to captioning online streaming video is a proactive reaction to the ADA lawsuit against Netflix, which claimed that Netflix was obliged to caption its video to accommodate deaf and hard-of-hearing users.

    Online video that previously aired on television is already required to display closed captions under the CVAA, but online-only video has been the subject of litigation.

    Amazon’s closed captioning requirement for AVD reduces the risk of a costly disability lawsuit, and it helps to filter out the hobbyist video producers from the professionals.

    Accepted Closed Captioning Formats

    Amazon will accept AVD videos with closed captions in any of the following formats:

    • SCC (Scenarist Closed Caption) with a .scc file extension
    • SMPTE-TT (RP-2052) with a .xml file extension
    • EBU-TT with a .xml file extension
    • DFXP Full/TTML (Timed Text Markup Language) with a .dfxp file extension
    • iTT (iTunes Timed Text) files with a .iTT file extension

    Learn more about closed caption formats, or try the free CC format converter tool.

    Amazon Preferred Vendors

    Amazon recommends a select group of professional closed captioning companies as their preferred vendors for Amazon Video Direct producers. 3Play Media is honored to be an AVD preferred vendor.

    Download the white paper: Closed Captioning Best Practices for Media & Entertainment

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