AFRIFF 2021 Day Two: Amazon Prime Video’s Strategy to Rival Netflix in Sub-Saharan Africa

The tenth anniversary of AFRIFF (Africa International Film Festival) opened on Sunday, 7th November 2021. Day 2 saw its first panel session: The Stakeholders: Amazon Prime Video Introduction to African Filmmakers. It was moderated by the delectable Nse Ikpe-Etim and she had an interactive session with Ayanna Lonian (Head Worldwide Major Studio Licensing Strategy, Amazon Prime Video). They discussed Nollywood, Amazon’s continued presence in the industry, and how that would affect the industry, and the new dimension Amazon’s relationship with Nollywood will take now.


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Via AFRIFF (Instagram)

Starting off with the usual courteous admiration that Lagos foreigners usually declare, Ayanna Lonian spoke about her talented team and how it will be supporting content strategy, acquisition, and development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Their goal is to be the most loved subscription video platform by customers in Sub-Saharan Africa. 


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Nse Ikpe-Etim, rather dainty in her eloquence, asked how much local versus international content is to be expected from Amazon Prime to which Ayanna responded that there is little discrimination because since Amazon’s arrival to Africa in 2016, they have produced a myriad of popular local content and basically any content they believe would delight their customers. To the question of what Amazon Prime Video is looking for now; how many local original contents?; what materials?; etc, Ayanna responded that local content will take time but they will work with local content creators to come up with local original content. They won’t lean into thousands of titles but exciting, original ideas, and will be going on a project-by-project basis. Local content can also work via licensed content. Finished series or content can be licensed to them. And then original content can be contracted. They are willing to work with local content creators and they don’t need intermediaries of aggregators; all the content creator has to do is engage the Amazon Prime Video team.

Nse pushed further to know whether they’d take risk on budding filmmakers to which Ayanna replied that they’ll work with both established and emerging filmmakers. They want to be engaged in those conversations on the template of “What is that idea? What is that story? Why does it need to be told now?” And when asked what the technique to get on Amazon Prime Video would be for content creators—anything other than being a great filmmaker—Ayanna said to be original at the highest level. Premium, hyper-local and authentic African stories. By Africans, for Africans. All African stories and storytellers are welcome.

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