The film industry’s key players are expressing discontent with Prime Video’s recent announcement to cut funding and cease the commissioning of films. This move has triggered dismay within the Nollywood community, who perceive it as a regrettable setback for the African film and television sector.

As reported by Variety, Prime Video has opted to scale down its involvement in Africa and the Middle East, redirecting its focus towards European original productions. The decision has sparked concerns among stakeholders, as it implies a reduced commitment to supporting and promoting content creation in these regions.

Prime Video is Cutting the African Film Industry Funding

Barry Furlong, Vice President and General Manager of Prime Video for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), shed light on the reasoning behind the shift in strategy. In an email obtained by Variety, Furlong explained that the company is meticulously evaluating its operations to ensure that resources are directed toward the elements that hold the utmost importance for customers.

This move by Prime Video has raised questions about the prospects of the African film industry and the impact it may have on local filmmakers, actors, and content creators. The decision to diminish funding in these regions signals a shift in priorities for Prime Video, prompting a broader conversation about the dynamics between global streaming platforms and the diverse regional film industries they engage with.

Prime Video shifts strategy in Africa and Middle East operations

Barry Furlong Stresses the Importance of Resource Rebalancing. In a recent development, Barry Furlong, Vice President and General Manager of Prime Video for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), has underscored the necessity to reallocate resources towards areas that generate the highest impact and ensure long-term success.

Furlong’s emphasis on resource rebalancing comes as Prime Video announces a strategic shift in its operations in Africa and the Middle East. This shift entails a cessation of funding for original content from Nigeria and a halt to the commissioning of new original content in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Unfortunately, this means that highly acclaimed African and Nigerian titles commissioned by Prime Video, such as ‘Gangs of Lagos,’ ‘She Must Be Obeyed,’ and ‘LOL: Laugh Out Loud,’ will be the last productions from the region available on the platform for many African subscribers.

It’s crucial to note that the restructuring will not impact pre-existing content that has already been approved or contracted. This move by Prime Video prompts discussions about the implications for the African film industry and the viewing experience for audiences in the affected regions.

Coal City Film Festival Founder criticizes Amazon Prime’s budget cuts in Africa

Uche Agbo Voices Discontent and Questions the Rationale. Expressing his dissatisfaction on a creative forum, Uche Agbo, the Founder of the Coal City Film Festival, questioned the rationale behind Amazon Prime’s significant reduction in commissioning and original budget in Africa.

Acknowledging the streaming platform’s business perspective, Agbo stated that he has been distraught since the news broke a few days ago. Contrary to earlier speculations about Amazon Prime exiting the African market, Agbo highlighted that the platform plans to continue acquiring African content but with a notable decrease in investment compared to previous projections.

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He noted that this development is disheartening for many film producers, leading to short-lived hope. Agbo further remarked that the news of budget cuts has sparked discussions in various quarters, with industry stakeholders releasing statements to lend their voices to the ongoing dialogue.

Mo Abudu and industry leaders criticize streaming giants’ treatment of the African market

Mo Abudu, the CEO of Ebony Life Media, has openly expressed dissatisfaction with how streaming giants handle the African market, emphasizing her concerns without reservation. In further discussions, it was pointed out that while businesses, including streaming platforms, aim for profitability, the reality is that only about 5% of Nigerians subscribe to these platforms.

From a business standpoint, cutting costs and investing where more revenue is generated seems logical. Some viewers resort to pirated links on platforms like Telegram to watch the same movies that streaming giants invest significant amounts to produce.

What raises concern for the speaker is the apparent silence from industry leaders and guild leadership. He highlights the need for Producers’ Associations, which play a crucial role as funders of the industry, to take a stand and make their voices heard.

The speaker urges the industry to assert itself, demanding consideration from these global entrants into the market. Failure to do so, he warns, may perpetuate the perception that the industry lacks negotiating power, portraying it as passive in the face of significant market shifts.

Advocating for Afrocentrism: Urging Industry Stakeholders to Take a Stand

The African market, poised for substantial growth and projected to become the world’s largest economy by 2050, faces a pivotal moment as critical stakeholders grapple with adverse decisions made without notice or consideration. This growth projection, however, may be at risk if influential voices remain silent in the face of such decisions.

From the speaker’s perspective, Africa, and Nigeria in particular, must seek internal solutions to revenue generation challenges. A call is made for a shift towards AFROCENTRISM as a guiding principle in foreign policy. This entails focusing on building lasting solutions from within, asserting the continent’s identity, and promoting its interests globally.

The speaker urges industry stakeholders to transcend internal conflicts, emphasizing the importance of concentrating on critical issues. Instead of internal disputes, there’s a call to unite and demand a seat at the table, asserting the industry’s influence and making collective demands that align with the continent’s economic and cultural interests. It’s a plea for unity, strategic focus, and an assertive approach to navigating the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Diversifying Film Strategies and Tackling Piracy in Africa

As filmmakers navigate the evolving landscape of the African film industry, Mykel Parish Ajaere offers valuable advice, emphasizing the need to reconsider the traditional big-budget model. He encourages producers to explore diverse distribution channels such as strategic theatre releases in select cinemas, Campus Tour movies, YouTube, and the broader TV market across Africa.

Additionally, Ajaere suggests alternative funding avenues, including crowd-funding, to alleviate the financial burden on individual investments. He advocates for pitching to investors not only for film productions but also for critical developmental needs within the industry, such as investing in village cinemas tailored for low-income earners, training facilities, and alternative exhibition platforms.

In Ajaere’s perspective, piracy emerges as a significant challenge confronting streaming platforms in Africa. Drawing attention to the detrimental impact on studios and streaming platforms’ profits, he highlights instances where pirates undermine the financial investments made.

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This observation underscores the importance of addressing piracy concerns as part of a broader strategy to sustain and grow the African film industry. Ajaere’s insights suggest a holistic approach that encompasses creative financing, strategic distribution, and combating piracy to foster a resilient and thriving film ecosystem in the region.

Amazon Prime in Africa: Challenges and Strategic Shifts

The landscape of Amazon Prime’s operations in Africa comes under scrutiny as it grapples with a subscriber base of almost 6 million. It’s imperative to recognize that the platform prioritizes product sales over extensive advertising, presenting a unique approach.

However, the prevalence of password sharing and piracy emerges as major hurdles for many platforms, particularly in the Middle East and Africa. In response to challenges, Amazon Prime’s decision to lay off executives is seen as a strategic move to address underlying issues.

The speaker notes that when a business faces challenges, restructuring becomes essential, requiring new leadership and innovative strategies. The speaker invites consideration of the scale of Amazon’s commissions in Nigeria, emphasizing the need to understand the complexities behind such decisions.

While acknowledging the sadness surrounding these developments, there’s a call for a shift in perspective—a call for the African continent, with its billion-strong population, to contemplate a market tailored by and for its people.

Delving into the timeline of Prime Video’s presence in Africa, it launched operations in 2022 after extending its reach to the continent in 2016. Seeking to secure a stronger foothold amid the streaming competition for African content, Prime Video engaged in collaborations with Nigerian filmmakers and content creators.

This involved the production of original and licensed content, as well as strategic partnerships with prominent studios like Anthill Studios, Inkblot Productions, and Evoke Studios. Key executive appointments, such as Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu as the head of Nigerian Local Originals, underscored the platform’s commitment to developing original video content in Nigeria, the epicenter of Africa’s thriving film industry.

In Concluding

The exploration of Prime Video’s decision to cut funding for the African film industry, it becomes evident that this strategic shift is a multifaceted response to the challenges and dynamics inherent in the region.

The platform’s emphasis on reallocating resources to prioritize customer-centric aspects, as communicated by Barry Furlong, Vice President and General Manager of Prime Video for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), underscores a business-oriented approach.

While the decision has sparked dissatisfaction and criticism from key stakeholders like Mo Abudu and Uche Agbo, it also raises important questions about the sustainability and profitability of streaming platforms in the diverse and evolving African market.

The complex interplay of factors, including low subscriber percentages, prevalent piracy issues, and the need for cost-effective strategies, contributes to the rationale behind Prime Video’s restructuring. As the African film industry faces these challenges, there is a call for introspection within the continent.

Filmmakers and industry leaders are urged to consider alternative funding models, diverse distribution channels, and strategic collaborations to foster resilience and growth. The conversation extends beyond the immediate impact on film productions, urging a broader focus on the industry’s long-term development, identity, and negotiating power on the global stage.

In navigating this transformative period, the industry is prompted to unite, assert itself, and actively shape the narrative of African content creation. Prime Video’s decision, while signaling a significant change, also presents an opportunity for the African film industry to explore new avenues, assert its creative prowess, and cultivate a thriving ecosystem that aligns with the diverse needs and aspirations of the continent’s burgeoning audience.

FAQs

What is the cost of a Prime Video subscription in Nigeria?

  • Prime Video Mobile Edition subscription: N800 per month.
  • Prime Video Mobile Edition with 2.5GB Prime Video data: N1,300 per month.
  • Prime Video Mobile Edition with 5.5GB Prime Video data: N1,800 per month.
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Is there a payment required for Prime Video in South Africa?

Not at the moment! Sign up for Prime Video now and enjoy the first 3 months for free. Afterward, the subscription is only R79 per month.

When did Prime Video launch in Nigeria?

Prime Video launched in Nigeria in 2021 after Amazon Prime expanded its operations to Africa in 2016. The local version of the service was introduced to cater specifically to the Nigerian audience. As of now, Prime Video boasts approximately 143 licensed acquisitions, encompassing both exclusive and non-exclusive content, according to a spokesperson from the company.

What is the monthly fee for Prime Video?

The monthly fee for Prime Video is included in the Amazon Prime membership, which is priced at $14.99 per month or $139 annually for an individual. With a Prime membership, you gain access to a comprehensive range of entertainment and streaming services, consolidating your diverse needs into a single subscription.

How is Prime Video paid for?

Payments for Amazon Prime Video subscriptions and Prime Video Channel subscriptions can be made using various methods, including credit cards, debit cards, Amazon Store cards, Amazon.com Gift Cards, and selected promotional codes.

Additionally, for Amazon Prime Video rentals and purchases, payments can be processed using credit cards, debit cards, or the Amazon Store Card. The platform provides users with flexibility in choosing their preferred payment options for these different services.

Which country made Prime Video?

Prime Video, also known as Amazon Prime Video, is a streaming and rental service developed by Amazon. It originates from the United States and is an American subscription video-on-demand over-the-top (OTT) platform. Prime Video is available both as a standalone service and as part of Amazon’s broader Prime subscription, providing users with a comprehensive range of streaming and entertainment options.

What is the difference between Amazon Prime and Prime Video?

The key distinction between Amazon Prime and Prime Video lies in their offerings and pricing structures:

Amazon Prime

  • Cost: Amazon Prime membership is priced at $14.99 per month or $139.00 annually.
  • Content Inclusion: Access to Prime Video is a bundled benefit included with an Amazon Prime membership. Subscribers enjoy not only streaming services but also various additional perks, such as free and expedited shipping on eligible items, access to Amazon Music, Kindle lending library, and more.
  • Ad-Free: Amazon Prime members do not encounter ads while using Prime Video.

Prime Video (Standalone)

  • Cost: For non-Prime members, Prime Video is available as a standalone streaming service for $8.99 per month.
  • Content Access: While the standalone Prime Video subscription provides access to the streaming platform, it does not include the broader benefits of an Amazon Prime membership.
  • Ad-Free (Optional): Starting January 24, 2024, both Amazon Prime members and standalone Prime Video subscribers have the option to pay an additional $2.99 per month to enjoy an ad-free experience on the platform.

Amazon Prime is a comprehensive membership that includes Prime Video along with other services, while Prime Video as a standalone service caters specifically to those seeking access to the streaming platform without the broader array of Amazon Prime benefits.

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Akinpedia is a passionate and knowledgeable author with a strong background in technology and business; he brings a wealth of expertise and insights to his writing.

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