Amazon Prime Video, the American streaming platform plans to reduce investments in African and Middle East & North Africa (MENA) regions according to reports. This will involve the company reducing content and roles in these areas facing layoffs.
However the European team will be split into two, both reporting into Prime Video Europe VP Barry Furlong. The reorganization includes forming two European clusters: EU Established (EU5) and EU Emerging (EUX).
EU Established led by Brigitte Ricou-Bellan, country director for France, will focus on the U.K., Germany, Italy, France and Spain while EU Emerging led by Ritchie Ordonez, director of Benelux, CEE and Turkey will focus on growing businesses in Benelux, the Nordics and CEE.
Amazon says that existing projects in Sub-Saharan Africa and MENA like “LOL ZA” and “Ebuka Turns Up Africa,” will continue, but no new original series or movies will be ordered in these regions.
In the email to staff, Prime Video Europe VP Barry Furlong said: “We’ve been carefully looking at our business to ensure we continue to prioritize our resources on what matters most to customers. I have carefully evaluated our structure in the region and decided to make some adjustments to our operating model to rebalance and pivot our resources to focus on the areas that drive the highest impact 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.”
It appears Sub-Saharan Africa and MENA funding cuts will be redirected to the EU Emerging cluster (EUX) which will see increased investment.
The company also intends to hire an executive in a new role, currently defined as director of EU content and programming strategy, who will work with both U.S. and international colleagues on the Amazon MGM Studios pipeline.
According to Amazon, the decision is part of a strategy to prioritise resources in areas that contribute most to the bottom line. This leads industry experts to assume that investments in these regions are not as profitable as expected by the company.
“One can therefore assume that its Sub-Saharan Africa and MENA investments, despite being very recent, are not paying off, or Amazon has accessed that, even in the long-term, they likely will not be lucrative,” Akoroko Africa wrote on X platform.
According to reports the role of Gideon Khobane, Director of Prime Video Africa, who was hired just seven months ago may be among the high profile roles to be affected by this restructuring.
However, Ned Mitchell, Head of Originals for Africa and the Middle East, and Ayanna Ionian, Director of Content Acquisition and Head of Worldwide Major Studio Licensing Strategy, who work out of Los Angeles are believed to be unaffected by these changes according to Akoroko Africa.
Amazon’s restructuring will imply a major shift away from original content production, and likely towards licensing, which is much cheaper.
This likely affects certain significant deals Amazon Prime Video has made with African filmmakers and production companies including Jáde Osiberu, Nigerian filmmaker and producer who is in her second year of a three-year deal with Prime Video to create and develop original scripted TV series and feature films exclusively for the streaming platform.
She was the first African creative to sign such an exclusive development deal with Prime Video.
Additionally, Amazon Prime Video signed an exclusive multi-year licensing agreement with Inkblot Studios, Nigerian production company. This deal grants Prime Video worldwide VoD rights to Inkblot’s features slate from 2022.
Amazon Prime Video also secured exclusive global distribution rights for Anthill Studios’ film slate under a multi-year licensing agreement announced on January 7, 2022. The deal covers the films after their theatrical releases.trical runs.
With the evolving landscape, local competitors such as Multichoice’s Showmax have a chance to leverage the trend, particularly following its 2024 rebranding and collaboration with Comcast. This could be an ideal time for Showmax to bolster its standing in the African market, given the diminished influence of international players like Amazon Prime Video.