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AMAZON PRIME VIDEO’S PIVOT RESTRUCTURING SPARKS CONCERNS FOR AFRICAN CINEMA: NIGERIA BRACES FOR POTENTIAL SETBACKS

Here’s the news:

Amazon Prime Video shifts focus to European originals, potentially impacting local content production in Africa, notably in Nigeria. While MENA-region (i.e., Middle-East and North Africa) shows are expected to continue, no new original series or movies will be ordered in these regions. Instead, funding cuts in Sub-Saharan Africa and MENA may be redirected to the EU Emerging cluster (EUX) with increased investment.

Amazon Prime Video is undergoing a restructuring that suggests a move away from prioritizing Sub-Saharan Africa and MENA in its content production strategy. Although a complete shutdown in Africa has not been officially confirmed, the restructuring in the broader Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) regions involves creating two European clusters (EU Established and EU Emerging). This restructuring includes reductions in investments and the possibility of layoffs in Africa and MENA regions.

What’s the problem?

These changes raise concerns about the future of local content production in those areas. And it might pose challenges for ongoing partnerships, including exclusive deals with Nigerian filmmaker Jáde Osiberu, as well as Inkblot Studios, and Anthill Studios.

The halt of local production in Sub-Saharan Africa might raise challenges for Nollywood. Nigeria, a hub of creative talent and storytelling prowess, may face setbacks as the restructuring unfolds. The decision not to greenlight new local originals raises questions about opportunities for Nigerian filmmakers and the broader African cinema landscape.

The move suggests a reassessment of growth opportunities, with Africa seemingly less prioritized.

Previously,

Prime Video had signaled a commitment to the African market by establishing dedicated country teams in Nigeria and South Africa and engaging in multi-year licensing deals. However, the impending changes cast a shadow over the platform’s earlier aspirations.

Ned Mitchell, Head of Originals for Africa and the Middle East, had previously emphasized Prime Video’s goal to amplify the voices of communities often underrepresented in global storytelling; as he said,

“We want to make sure that we’re really telling the stories of whole communities that have never even been able to see their stories on camera before… and we think that the new standard that we’re hoping to create, in working and producing premium content, 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.”

The anticipated shift in strategy still raises concerns about whether this commitment will persist.

While other major streamers like Netflix haven’t publicly expressed similar concerns, this could be an opportunity for local competition, such as Multichoice’s Showmax, to strengthen its position in the African market.

As the global streaming landscape undergoes transformations, the prelude to Prime Video’s restructuring prompts apprehension in Nigeria and beyond. The potential impact on local talent and the richness of African narratives remains uncertain, we can only watch closely as the situation unfolds.

By Shalom O. Obisesan

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