Amazon Prime Video slashes funding for African and Middle Eastern Originals
In a recent development reported by Variety, Amazon Prime Video has announced a significant reduction in funding for original content from Africa and the Middle East. This decision, revealed through an email from a Prime Video executive, forms part of a new content strategy that not only impacts Africa but extends its influence into the Middle East. The streaming platform is undergoing a reconfiguration of its international business model, with a heightened focus on European originals.
The consequences of this move are far-reaching, signaling a scaling down of local content in the affected regions and potential staff layoffs. Existing content previously greenlit or contracted by the streamer remains unaffected by this strategic overhaul. Notably, Prime Video will cease commissioning original content in Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa in the foreseeable future, according to the details outlined in the email obtained by Variety.
Barry Furlong, Vice President and General Manager, Amazon Prime Video, EMEA, explained the decision, stating,
“We have been carefully looking at our business to ensure we continue to prioritize our resources on what matters most to customers.”
Furlong highlighted a restructuring of the operating model to reallocate resources towards areas that drive the highest impact and long-term success. The adjustments aim to enhance the operational efficiency of the multi-territory business and foster greater agility and focus.
While Prime Video will maintain its operational presence in Africa and the Middle East, the local impact is palpable, especially among content producers. Renowned South African author and SAFTA-winning filmmaker, Brett Ahlers-Innes, expressed his disappointment on Facebook, calling it “a very sad day for the African film and television industry.” Ahlers-Innes mentioned two projects that were affected, emphasizing the employment opportunities they represented for talented individuals.
As a result of this decision, the stage is set for competitors like Netflix to expand their influence in the African streaming market. Prime Video initially entered the African market in 2016, positioning itself as a contender against streaming giants like Netflix. In 2022, it strengthened its presence by launching in Nigeria and collaborating with local storytellers, yielding original titles such as Jade Osiberu’s “Gangs of Lagos,” marking Prime Video’s first African original movie. The repercussions of this funding cut are now unfolding, reshaping the dynamics of the streaming landscape in these regions.