Amazon Prime Video is upsizing its focus on Southeast Asia now that production operations on the ground in Japan, India and Australia were successfully up and running, the platform’s APAC director of local originals, Erika North, said this afternoon.
A search is already under way for a managing director for Southeast Asia as part of the streaming video platform’s broader ambitions for the region..
“We’re at day one in Southeast Asia,” North said during an online session on day two of the ATF online market.
She outlined expansion plans that included bigger teams on the ground driving a more local content agenda.
Eyes have been on Prime Video’s plans in Southeast Asia for months, with heightened expectations in September when former Netflix/HBO Asia exec Raphael Phang joined the Singapore operation as senior development exec for Southeast Asia.
In November, Prime Video posted five Southeast Asia-focused jobs on its online portal, including creative director and senior content acquisition manager.
Prime Video’s scaling up in Southeast Asia runs alongside a hiring spree at WarnerMedia’s HBO Max as global giants build out their businesses in the region.
North did not disclose a timetable for the release of the first Southeast Asia originals, saying only that the goal was to “partner with the top local talents across the region”.
There are “inumerable opportunities to tell great stories in Southeast Asia”, she added, stopping short of prescribing what she’s looking for by plot, genre or volume
She said the originals focus was on relevance and untold stories, to look for and fill the “white spaces of opportunity”.
“In many ways, the deeper, more grounded and authentic the show is, the greater its propensity to travel,” she said, adding that “distribution shifts had led to real genre opportunity”.
The pandemic, she added, had “brought out a greater need for audiences to find connection and cohesion. Increasingly, as OTT and SVOD become mainstream, people are gravitating towards a collective experience,” she adding, using “The Masked Singer Japan” as an example.
Prime Video’s remake in Japan “drove co-viewing and was an experience the family gathered around. The appetite for that will grow,” North said.
North did not say how many originals she was targeting out of Southeast Asia in any specific time frame.
“We are impact driven… We are not thinking of hundreds of shows and hundreds of hours. Everything that is greenlit has the full weight of our support and is truly treated as hero content,” she said.
“Great content can take time to create,” she added, appealing to the region’s creators to “come to us directly”.
She flagged coming-soon announcements for more scripted and unscripted originals out of Japan, and highlighted titles such as Japan’s “Documental”, now in its 10th season in Japan with remakes across multiple markets, including Italy and Germany.