Africa: Prime Video Cuts Funding in Africa, Middle East

Stakeholders have described it as a sad development for the African film and television industry.

Amazon Prime Video is undergoing a strategic shift in its international operations, directing its attention towards European original content, Variety is reporting.

The platform has decided to downsize and reduce funding and resources allocated to Africa and the Middle East, concentrating on its European originals.

By implication, the streaming platform would no longer fund original content from Nigeria and halt the commissioning of new original content in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa.

In the last few years, it has funded original Nigerian content like ‘Gangs of Lagos‘, ‘She Must Be Obeyed‘ and ‘LOL: Laugh Out Loud

However, shows from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region that are already in progress, such as “LOL ZA” and “Ebuka Turns Up Africa,” will proceed as planned.

Having commenced operations in Africa in 2016 and in Nigeria in 2021, Amazon Prime adds that it plans to make adjustments that will impact both content offerings and personnel in the African and Middle Eastern regions.

The restructuring does not affect pre-existing content already approved or contracted. However, the streaming service will cease commissioning original content in Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Going forward

In an email seen by Variety, Barry Furlong, vice president and general manager of Prime Video, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), explained the rationale behind the decision in the email.

He said, “We have been carefully looking at our business to ensure we continue to prioritise our resources on what matters most to customers.”

Mr Furlong emphasised the need to rebalance resources and focus on areas that drive the highest impact and long-term success.

Prime Video will remain operational in Africa and the Middle East, but the decision’s impact is being felt among local producers.

Reacting to the recent development, South African filmmaker Brett Ahlers-Innes, on Facebook, described the decision as a sad day for the African film and television industry.

He wrote, “I had two projects gearing up to go up with them, so this hits hard. Projects which, beyond my ambitions, were roles and employment opportunities for some wonderful humans.

“Wishing my friends and colleagues strength as we regroup, both the filmmakers and the local Amazon staff who poured so much of their hearts into trying to get these projects off the ground.”

However, other filmmakers observe that one of the implications of Amazon Prime Video’s decision will invite competitor Netflix to gain more ground in the African streaming market.

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