Prime Video: A Unified APAC Strategy or Bespoke Country Approaches to Win?

Prime Video: A Unified APAC Strategy or Bespoke Country Approaches to Win?

The APOS event took place from 26-28 September 2023.

Aparna Purohit,Gaurav Gandhi and David Simonsen

Mumbai: APOS, the defining voice and global platform for the Asia Pacific media and telecoms industry, took place from 26-28 September 2023, at the Ayana Estate in Bali, Indonesia.

Created & curated by Media Partners Asia, APOS is the ultimate destination for deals, partnerships and thought leadership with a focus on content, connectivity and commerce sectors.

APOS was established in 2010 and is attended by global, local, and regional industry leaders.

The speakers of the panel discussion on ‘Prime Video: A Unified APAC Strategy or Bespoke Country Approaches to Win?’ were Prime Video VP Asia Pacific Gaurav Gandhi, Prime Video director Southeast Asia David Simonsen, and Prime Video head of originals – India and SEA Aparna Purohit.

On your long-term strategy and on applying insights from your successful ventures in India

Aparna: I'm thrilled about my expanded role overseeing Originals in Southeast Asia. First, looking back at the past seven and a half years in India, where we pioneered premium cinematic content. It was a journey of breaking new ground and convincing filmmakers to join us in creating something unprecedented. We learned and grew together, and our shows like "Inside Edge" became cultural phenomena, demonstrating our long-term vision and creative commitment. We invested time and creativity without hesitation and championed gender balance both on and off-screen. Our India team continues to excel.

Now, in Southeast Asia, I see endless possibilities. Meeting creators there highlighted the universal power of storytelling, transcending language and culture. Our strategy is to craft authentic, locally rooted stories that resonate with each unique audience. We'll build upon the strong foundation laid by our exceptional teams on the ground. It's an exciting journey, tailoring content to our customers' preferences and connecting through the art of storytelling.

On some successes, challenges, and your broader ambitions

David: In our first year, we've seen significant success in building a strong team in Singapore. We've made excellent hires, fostering diversity and expertise within our team. Our regional infrastructure, active for the past six months, has further bolstered our capabilities to reach millions of customers across the region. We've been strategizing for customer engagement and acquisition.

On the flip side, we've encountered challenges related to product and consumption events. However, we've stayed committed to our plans and adapted as needed. The introduction of three new modes in Q2 this year has had a substantial impact on our business, positioning us favorably.

We view this year as foundational, having established valuable relationships in the market and forged new partnerships in programming and production. Looking ahead, we're excited about the opportunities the next few years hold.

On approaching significant markets like Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand, especially considering Thailand doesn't have a standalone service yet

David: Certainly, Prime is a significant aspect of our business, and we're diving into it in greater depth in our priority markets. Quality and customer experience are paramount, and this remains consistent across our various offerings. Rather than viewing it as a barrier, we see it as an opportunity to cultivate and expand a brand-new subscription service in markets where we haven't made our mark yet.

On your strategies driving scale in both past and present market landscapes and lessons from these experiences that can be applied to markets like Thailand and the Philippines

Gaurav: Amazon's approach always centers on understanding customers' needs and creating value. We start by identifying white spaces in each market, seeking ways to win local customers across key segments. In Japan, our success lies in being the go-to destination for local content, including films and unscripted formats. We've also excelled in sports, particularly baseball and boxing. Our channels business thrives, forming a robust entertainment ecosystem for a vast customer base.

When we began, we were clear about not limiting ourselves to a single language but scaling across languages simultaneously. We focused on two key dimensions: original content and a personalized user experience. These differentiators have been instrumental in our success. We've also looked at the business-to-customer category, addressing the overwhelming amount of content and the need for a better user experience.

Another key aspect is our commitment to breaking barriers and creating categories where opportunities exist.

Our collaboration with T-Mobile in India is a prime example of expanding beyond language silos, and it has been remarkably successful, showcasing the potential for creators and offering a richer experience for customers. These strategies are part of our ongoing efforts to innovate and cater to diverse customer preferences.

On navigating different scenarios, you've competed with Netflix in Japan to build the category. India appears to be developing a global category, while Netflix dominates in Southeast Asia.

Gaurav: We're certainly excited about being a beloved content service for our customers, offering a diverse range of programming pillars. We program our content while also partnering with others.

Our service encompasses a wide variety of content, including movies, shows, and sports, catering to diverse emotional experiences. Collaboration with our partners is key to this approach. As we venture into Southeast Asian territories, some of which are in the early stages of development, we aim to play a significant role in shaping the creative economy. We envision not only contributing to the existing category but also expanding it through our offerings.

On mentioning Prime Video as a one-stop entertainment destination and elaborating on how this strategy will unfold in APAC, especially considering the significance of live sports and the convergence of live sports, channels, and television in this region and  it enhancing the overall user experience

Gaurav: We're actively involved in live sports in various parts of the world, with a stronger presence in Japan, where we've had success in baseball and boxing. We're exploring channel content as well, and it's an exciting part of our offerings.

In terms of sports programming, we evaluate it on an event-by-event basis to provide our customers with a compelling experience. Additionally, sports plays a crucial role in our channels offering, complementing the digital wallet approach.

We've seen strong demand for video-on-demand sports content, especially in India. Our strategy varies by country, taking into account the market's maturity. In India, we've adopted a curated strategy with a focus on live sports events and a vast catalog of recent movies. The response has been highly positive, with deep engagement and customer satisfaction.

We collaborate with global and local partners, creating a comprehensive spectrum of offerings. We're open to discussing partnerships with anyone interested in expanding their reach, whether they are global or local partners.

On your strategy for engaging with pay TV operators and telcos in the region and are there any early successes or partnerships you'd like to highlight

David: Overall, we're diligently working on each chapter, ensuring our retail funnel remains in top shape. We're actively pursuing partnerships with a clear goal in mind: engaging and retaining customers through these collaborations. Expanding our reach is of paramount importance to us, providing customers with various gateways to access and enjoy the Prime service.

In addition, we have dedicated teams managing relationships with our partners across the board. We prioritize the onboarding process, striving to get customers onto the service swiftly and efficiently. Our focus is on building relationships where Prime Video complements the broader B2B ecosystem. You can expect to hear more from us on this front as we continue to make progress, even though we may have been relatively quiet in this space in the past.

On envisioning potential opportunities in Indonesia and expanding this model across the region and globally and are there specific areas you believe require further attention and development

Aparna: We've witnessed how some of our international shows gain popularity and travel across Europe and beyond. India shows have seen up to 20 per cent of their viewership come from outside their home country. The diverse linguistic palette is striking, with viewers comfortably consuming content in more than three or four languages. I firmly believe that the next wave of global content innovation will emerge from this region.