Amazon-owned Prime Video is to change its content strategy in Southeast Asia from a model based on original productions to one focused instead on licensing. As a result it has cut some jobs in the region.
The move follows last week’s announcement of a restructuring and several hundred job cuts in North America at Prime Video and the Amazon-owned MGM.
“Today we have made the decision to discontinue some programs and initiatives, and rebalance our international organization to focus on the countries and regions driving the most growth for our service. In APAC, we are decreasing investments in South East Asia (SEA) and moving to a leaner local operating model to support the SEA territories. David Simonsen will continue to lead this leaner Singapore based SEA team, working even more closely with our centralized business teams, as we continue to attract new customers in the region. There is no change in our investment focus in our other APAC territories including Japan and India,” said Gaurav Gandhi, VP Asia-Pacific in a note to staff, seen by Variety. “As a result of these changes, we have eliminated some roles within the SEA team.”
“We remain very optimistic about the long-term future of Prime Video and Amazon MGM Studios where we are taking significant steps and investments towards our long-term vision of making Prime Video the first-choice entertainment destination for customers worldwide,” Gandhi continued.
The wider context was provided by Mike Hopkins, senior VP of Prime Video and Amazon MGM Studio. “Our industry continues to evolve quickly and it’s important that we prioritize our investments for the long-term success of our business, while relentlessly focusing on what we know matters most to our customers. Throughout the past year, we’ve looked at nearly every aspect of our business with an eye towards improving our ability to deliver even more breakthrough movies, TV shows, and live sports in a personalized, easy to use entertainment experience for our global customers,” he said in a separate letter to staff. “As a result, we’ve identified opportunities to reduce or discontinue investments in certain areas while increasing our investment and focus on content and product initiatives that deliver the most impact.”
Prime Video will continue to have a Southeast Asia regional team in Singapore, albeit a leaner one. And it is understood that no Southeast Asian local original show that is produced or in-production will be halted.
Amazon’s streaming effort was launched quite recently in the region – as recently as August 2022 in the case of Thailand – but in some territories it did not have the benefit of Amazon’s Prime shopping membership service. That meant it was operating in a predominantly low-ARU market (Singapore is the wealthy exception) against significantly more established incumbents. In some territories, such as Thailand and Malaysia, the competition for streaming eyeballs is being played out between global behemoths, regional players and the two leading Chinese streaming platforms.
Gandhi’s comment that strategy is unchanged in Japan and India highlights the difference between its approach in large and wealthy markets where programming may be more exportable, and the still developing Southeast Asia region.
Within Southeast Asia, it will license local, pan-regional content such as Korean shows and Japanese anime, as well as U.S. product.