EXCLUSIVE: Prime Video’s teams in Africa and the Middle East & North Africa region are facing layoffs, as part of a wider restructure that also “rebalances” investment towards Amazon’s European content division.
The move will split Europe in two clusters and see “emerging” territories such as Benelux, the CEE and the Nordics get new investment, with funding for African and MENA slashed. In the past hour, Prime Video’s VP & GM for EMEA, Barry Furlong, has outlined the raft of changes to staff in a memo seen by Deadline.
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Among the decisions, which are being defined as a “rebalance” of resources, Prime Video will create two European clusters, EU Established (EU5) and EU Emerging (EUX), with new roles for several execs.
This impacts the Sub-Saharan Africa and MENA, which will see investment decrease to what are being described as “prior levels.”
Furlong said the restructure is part of a plan to “prioritize resources on what matters most to customers” and “rebalance and pivot resources to focus on the areas that drive the highest impact and long-term success.”
We understand staff have been informed in both Sub-Saharan Africa and MENA that roles are set to be eliminated, and that a consultation period is underway.
Among those understood to be impacted is Gideon Khobane, Director of Prime Video Africa. Head of Originals for Africa and the Middle East Ned Mitchell and Director of Content Acquisition and Head WW Major Studio Licensing Strategy Ayanna Lonian, who both work out of LA and have wider remits, are believed to be safe. Ionian’s role includes buying in the U.S. and international territories, along with Africa.
Regional reporting from the MENA region now goes into Prime Video’s APAC leadership, which is led by Gaurav Gandhi.
Shows that have previously been greenlit or contracted such as LOL ZA, Ebuka Turns Up Africa and Water and Garri will continue, but like the changes recently announced in Asia, no new original series or movies will be ordered.
Over in Europe, a restructure is underway to make the business “more agile and focused.” In practice, this means splitting the region into two, EU Established and EU Emerging.
EU Established will comprise UK, Germany, Italy, France and Spain and be led by Brigitte Ricou-Bellan, who is currently Prime Video Country Director France. EU Emerging will comprise Benelux, Nordics and CEE, with Ritchie Ordonez, currently Prime Video Director of Benelux, CEE and Turkey, taking over the unit.
The two regional directors will lead all business, program and operational management of their respective region. Country Programming & Content Strategy leaders will report to Ricou-Bellan and Ordonez for their respective territories.
Countries within the EU Emerging cluster will receive increased investment, “matching resource with the growth and opportunity we have seen in those countries,” according to Furlong.
Furthermore, Prime Video will appoint a Director of EU Content & Programme Strategy, who will lead a new strategic regional programming function, working closely with U.S. and international colleagues on the content pipeline from Amazon MGM Studios. The role will also be introduced in the Asia-PAcific and Latin America regional teams.
Prime Video Head of EMEA Programme Strategy Chandru Lakshminarayanan and his team will now regionally to report into the new role. Marketing, TVOD & Channels will remain unaffected.
Last week, Amazon cut its originals team in Southeast Asia, resulting in a major reduction in headcount at the Singapore office. Around 25 staff will remain in the Singapore office working across the Southeast Asia region, we understand.
That came after Amazon MGM Studios and Prime Video SVP Mike Hopkins told staff that “several hundred roles” would be eliminated across the organization following a review of the company’s business operations. There have since been cuts in theatrical, unscripted and gaming unit Twitch, and international redundancies have been widely expected.
“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,” said Furlong in the memo.
“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.”
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