Amazon Prime cuts funding and staff in Africa

Amazon Prime Video is not exiting Africa and the Middle East, but it is reducing its budget and workforce in both regions. Additionally, the streaming service will pause Original productions.

Amazon Prime cuts funding and staff in Africa
Gangs of Lagos is the first African Prime Video original

Amazon Prime Video, an American streaming service, is reportedly tightening its budget and executing staff layoffs within its teams in Africa and the Middle East, as per a report from Variety, a Los Angeles-based publication. The company is undergoing a restructuring of its international business, shifting its focus to European originals.

According to details shared in an email with Prime Video staff, as reported by Variety, the streaming service is planning to halt the approval of local original content in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa in the near term.

In 2016, Amazon entered the African streaming market, creating competition against Netflix and other local players. Six years later, Prime Video announced the launch of a localized version of its streaming service in Nigeria. A year after the launch, Gangs of Lagos became its first African original movie.

In May 2023, Amazon inaugurated Amazon MGM Studios Distribution, allowing the firm to license Amazon Originals and other titles to external media entities, such as streaming services (whether free, ad-supported, or subscription-based) and cable TV. The move followed Amazon's $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM.

While Ned Mitchell, the head of originals for Africa and the Middle East at Prime Video and Amazon Studios, initially expressed optimism about increasing original content production in the region, the recent communication represents a deviation from Mitchell's vision. He had originally outlined a plan, "to create...premium content, [that] will attract all African storytellers and crews and talent who want to join us in creating those stories. And if we can get that right, I really don’t think there’s a limit to where we can go next."

At the time of this report, Mitchell is yet to respond to our comment regarding the cuts.

In spite of its recent move, the streaming platform will proceed with LOL ZA and Ebuka Turns Up Africa, two African originals it has commissioned. Furthermore, the platform will maintain its presence in both regions and continue to upload non-original movies.

Related Article: Where Netflix invested $175 million in Africa

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