Prime Video has big plans for the Southeast Asia region, including the introduction of channels and an expanded local-language content slate, the streamer’s Vice President, Asia Pacific, Gaurav Gandhi, told the APOS conference today.
Gandhi, who headed Prime Video India before being appointed to lead the wider APAC region in April, confirmed what Prime Video VP International Kelly Day mentioned at APOS yesterday, that channels and TVOD will be added to Prime Video’s offering in Southeast Asia. Gandhi was speaking on a panel with David Simonsen, Prime Video Director, Southeast Asia, and Aparna Purohit, Head of Originals, India & SEA.
“We’ve always said we’re not just about the core SVOD service, but we’re also a content hub and a marketplace with TVOD and channels,” said Gandhi, who relocated from Mumbai to Singapore in his new role. “We’re at different growth stages across the region – obviously we’ve been investing in Japan and India for a while, and we’re now getting started with David’s team here in building out Southeast Asia.”
At the same time as bringing partnerships and third-party channels to the service, Gandhi said Prime Video would also be looking at how to expand the local-language content slate in Southeast Asia, adding to the streamer’s long-established local output in India and Japan.
Purohit, who previously headed originals in India and has also had her brief expanded to take in Southeast Asia, talked about how she aims to bring some of the expertise gained in India to the region – with a focus on Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.
“When we started out in India, we realised we needed to start building a community of writers, and we brought in consultants, writers and directors from outside India to help on some of our shows,” Purohit said. “That really helped to fuel the entire creative economy of the country and I’m excited to bring some of those initiatives here.”
Prime Video was one of the first global streamers to produce Indian shows that were well received internationally, with several breakout hits including Mirzapur, Inside Edge, Breathe and Made In Heaven. That strong track record continued this year with Raj & DK’s thriller Farzi and Vikramaditya Motwane’s period drama Jubilee. The Indian team also recently moved into unscripted with documentaries and reality show Mission Start Ab, following a group of young entrepreneurs.
Acknowledging that Southeast Asia is not homogenous, “every country has its specific nuances”, Purohit also said she was “excited about the possibilities” in the region and had recently met creators in Thailand where she felt the talent and passion “really transcended all barriers of language of nationality”.
She added that Prime Video already has strong teams on the ground in Southeast Asia and that the three territories the streamer is initially focusing on – Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand – are already “such prolific media and entertainment industries, with phenomenal talent. I’m just excited to build on that.”
While saying it was too early to announce specific projects, Purohit said the strategy in each territory is to develop “authentic and rooted” stories. “We just want to work for the audience and understand their preferences and taste,” Purohit said.
On the product and partnership side, Simonsen explained that Prime Video has spent the past year building out teams in Singapore and across the region, learning about engagement and acquisition strategies along the way.
“On the other side of the coin, we’ve been a little slow with some of our product infrastructure and it took us a while to get online with our payments, which is critical in this market,” he added. “But that came on board in Q2 this year and has made a big impact on the business.”
Prime Video initially focused on APAC markets such as India and Japan where it can offer the whole range of Prime membership benefits, including shopping and fast delivery. Those services are not currently available in Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand, but Gandhi said the goals in terms of delivering a quality experience are the same: “We don’t see it as a barrier, it’s an opportunity to build a branded subscription service for Amazon in markets where we haven’t had that previously.”
Purohit said she’s optimistic that originals from this region can find an international audience. Citing Indian shows like Farzi and Made In Heaven, for which 20% of viewership is coming from outside India, she said: “The linguistic palette of pretty much every viewer has expanded and everyone’s watching content in more than three or four languages now. I truly believe that the next big global hit is coming from this part of the world.”