February 24, 2024

Prime Video, a prominent movie-streaming service, has discontinued funding, support for Nigerian originals, and decreased its local workforce as part of a restructure to focus on European markets. The decrease will have an impact on its activities in Africa and the Middle East.

According to press sources, authorized and commissioned shows from the region, such as Ebuka Turns Up Africa, will continue production. However, as part of this new focus, it may decline to accept new original material from Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa for the time being.

This comes only days after Nollywood actress and producer Kemi “Lala” Akindoju announced on X that she was leaving her employment at Prime Video. “Reflecting on a wonderful December that marked the conclusion of my fantastic experience with Amazon. As I embark on my new adventure, I will bring with me the lessons, progress, and companionship of a group of creative minds. I am excited for the journey ahead and look forward to carrying you with me,” she writes. Akindoju formerly worked at Prime Video as the Senior Movies Creative Executive for Nigeria.

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Prime Video Europe VP Barry Furlong stated that the decision to shift emphasis was taken following an appraisal of the streaming behemoth.

“We’ve been carefully reviewing our business to ensure that we continue to focus our efforts on what is most important to our consumers. I thoroughly analyzed our regional structure and decided to make some changes to our operating model to rebalance and pivot our resources so that we may focus on the regions that have the most effect and long-term success.

“I have listened and considered the feedback received across the teams over the past 12 months; I believe these changes will improve the operational running of our multi-territory business and allow us to be more agile and focused,” Furlong said in a statement.

In a surprising change of events, the shakeup occurs months after Prime Video claimed to have mapped out a strategy to become Africa’s largest video streaming provider after signing multi-year licensing agreements with production firms and establishing teams in Nigeria and South Africa.

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It’s worth noting that Amazon Prime Video joined the African market in 2016 as part of its global expansion to more than 200 countries, posing significant competition to Netflix’s simultaneous global launch. Until roughly 18 months ago, the regional service lacked local-language interfaces, subtitling, and original content offerings that are prevalent in more established markets. The launch of the localized version in Nigeria was a big step in catering to the tastes and expectations of the African audience.

Amazon Prime Video, Africa’s third-largest video streaming platform, intended to boost its subscriber base in emerging economies by introducing localized options. While identical initiatives were implemented in South Africa, the platform did not commission any original material in the Middle East. The plan includes increasing investment in local production, releasing slates of localized originals, and providing customers with cheap Amazon Prime memberships.

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The platform’s expansion into Africa for original and licenced material drew notice and success, with films including “Breath of Life” and Jade Osiberu’s “Gangs of Lagos” receiving critical praise and economic success, respectively.

According to Digital TV Research, Prime Video had over 600,000 users in Africa at its height, with hopes to add 1.5 million more in the following four years.

Prime Video’s decision to stop developing local content creates a big gap in the streaming scene, as competing platforms are fighting for Africa’s predicted 15 million video-on-demand users by 2026. As a result, the new development may reshape the dynamics of the region’s streaming industry, as platforms dedicated to creating local content, primarily Showmax, Netflix, and Canal+, take advantage of Prime Video’s reduced presence and possibly expand market share in the currently underway streaming war for African content and the amount of viewers.

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