The Washington Post

It’s like Amazon and YouTube combined: free videos with links to buy related items Inc. logos are displayed on laptop computers in Washington, D.C. in this 2013 file photo. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg) Inc. logos are displayed on laptop computers in Washington, D.C. in this 2013 file photo. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Amazon now has the same “How to use chopsticks” video that gained more than 60,000 views on YouTube. But what’s different about watching this tutorial video on Amazon is that, next to the video, you can browse 55 items related to the video you just watched, including chopsticks and sushi-making tools, which are available to purchase on

That’s the general idea behind Amazon’s Video Shorts site, quietly launched as a new part to its existing Instant Video Web site. According to a Amazon spokesperson, the Video Shorts destination within Amazon’s Instant Video was added within the past couple weeks. The content previously surfaced only within relevant search results. The site features free short video clips including movie and game trailers, music videos, concert clips, author interviews, how-to tutorial videos for beauty, food and technology, all framed by relevant products available to buy on Amazon.

So it’s like Amazon meets YouTube. Like YouTube, the Video Shorts content has run-time, a short description and a comments and review section. Unlike YouTube, most videos on Amazon’s site seem to be produced by companies rather than individuals. The Amazon spokesperson said the company is working with a variety of content partners on video licensing, but refused to provide any specific details.

Although Amazon’s new video section looks like a rival to many free-video Web sites, the company seems more interested in promoting the platform itself than any specific brand or company. Currently the site features videos from Howcast, Vox Media, Universal, Sony, Disney and others. But as Mashable pointed out, users can’t click on the name of the channel to see all the videos uploaded by that company, which is “an odd choice that could be a mere oversight or indicate that Amazon is more interested in promoting the platform over any one brand.”

Amazon didn’t respond to the request for more details except to say that “our focus has been (and remains) focused on growing our content selection for customers.”

Screenshot of Amazon's Video Shorts website. (Jiaxi Lu/ The Washington Post)
Screenshot of Amazon’s Video Shorts website.
A screenshot of the music video “Frozen: Let It Go” on Amazon’s Video Shorts. Next to the video shows a list of related items available for purchase on

Amazon may still have a long way to go to make its video business a rival to Google’s YouTube, but the company had been ambitious in expanding its e-commerce sales and growing into new areas, from introducing its own smartphone Fire to announcing its 3D printing business which makes it possible for consumers to buy a 3D-printed coffee cup or bubble-heads.

“The company’s ambitions are seemingly boundless, with investments in everything from cloud infrastructure and services to mobile devices and consumer hardware. The company wants to deliver groceries to your door, ship its products via drone, stream media to all your screens, and even produce its own TV shows and games,” Sarah Perez, wrote in TechCrunch. “It shouldn’t then come as any surprise that Amazon would also see its Instant Video Service as something that could not only take on iTunes and Netflix, but potentially YouTube as well…at least, one day.”

The Seattle-based e-commerce retailer posted a $19.3 billion revenue for the second quarter of 2014, a 23 percent rise from $15.7 billion in the same quarter last year. Amazon expects third-quarter revenue between $19.7 billion and $21.5 billion. Amazon CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.



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Rebecca Robbins · July 28, 2014