Thursday, January 18, 2024

BREAKING. Amazon slashing content funding for Prime Video Africa, retrenching staff including Prime Video Africa director Gideon Khobane with no new South African series or films to be commissioned.

by Thinus Ferreira

Amazon is suddenly slashing funding for Amazon Prime Video Africa and will stop making further African original productions as part of a restructuring, which will also lead to retrenchments for Prime Video Africa staff, including executives like Gideon Khobane who has been let go and joined Prime Video in South Africa as Prime Video Africa director just 7 months ago.

While series like the upcoming Laugh Out Loud South Africa with host Trevor Noah produced by South Africa's Rapid Blue and the Nigerian travelogue Ebuka Turns Up Africa series will still roll out, apparently no further new series or movies will be commissioned from South Africa, or from across Africa for that matter, for Amazon Prime Video with producers who got "shut down" orders.

With no new content commissioned out of South Africa, it raises serious questions about whether Prime Video will continue to have any further use for roles, or keep any of the jobs of, any of its existing content executives it appointed over the past two years to scale up Amazon Prime's African Originals based in teams in Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa, and for Nigeria based in London.

Amazon Prime Video Africa was asked questions in a media query, with its South African PR company Ten x Collective that on Thursday afternoon told me the media query needs to be directed to Amazon PR in the United Kingdom directly.

Stephen Barber, head of PR for Amazon in the UK, had no comment on the specific questions that were asked and said the information currently available is what is in an American trade publication article.

This shocking Amazon upheaval now continues with the slashing of content creation and staff costs across Africa with South African producers telling me they're dismayed, depressed and devastated that "promises made were not kept".

Barry Furlong, Prime Video vice president and general manager for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region in an email told staff today about the start of a restructuring to "rebalance" Amazon Prime Video staff and content investment in the Europe and Africa regions.

Amazon will decrease content investment in sub-Saharan Africa "to prior levels" with Barry Furlong informing staffers that the restructuring is aimed at prioritising "resources on what matters most" that will "rebalance and pivot resources to focus on the areas that drive the highest impact and long-term success".

One of the roles getting eliminated is reportedly that of Gideon Khobane who officially joined Amazon Prime Video Africa 7 months ago in July 2023 as director of Prime Video Africa. Gideon Khobane left MultiChoice to join Amazon Prime Video Africa.

It's still unclear how many other Prime Video Africa staff and executives are affected and how many jobs will be eliminated primarily across South Africa and Nigeria. 

After Amazon Prime Video's restructuring in Southeast Asia last week, and at the same time as the realignment for Africa, Amazon is also restructuring Europe which is being split into two regions comprising emerging European markets and established European markets.

In his email to staffers, Barry Furlong says "We've been carefully looking at our business to ensure we continue to prioritize our resources on what matters most to customers".

"I have carefully evaluated our structure in the region and decided to make some adjustments to our operating model to rebalance and pivot our resources to focus on the areas that drive the highest impact and long-term success."

"I have listened and considered the feedback received across the teams over the past 12 months; I believe these changes will improve the operational running of our multi-territory business and allow us to be more agile and focused."

Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Studios boasted about the multi-year partnership contracts and output deals it had signed over the past few years with production companies ranging from Anthillas well as Inkblot Productions, to Greoh Studios in Nigeria that will now suddenly make nothing for Amazon as the streamer drastically scales back on its ambitions and promises of making more African content.