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Amazon Prime executives unveil content acquisition plans [Pulse Exclusive]



Precious ‘Mamazeus’ Nwogu

In an exclusive chat with Pulse, Amazon studios’ executives James Farrell and Ukonwa Kuzi-Orizu Ojo discuss partnership with local content creators.

Amazon's Ukonwa Kuzi-Orizu Ojo and James Farrell at AFRIFF [Instagram/ukonwaojo]

It might come as no news that a team Amazon studios’ executives are currently in Nigeria, cementing partnership deals with Nigerian film content creators.

The streaming service made its first public appearance at the just concluded Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) where they held talk sessions interacting with press and content creators.

In an exclusive chat with Pulse, James Farrell, Amazon studios’ International Head of Local Originals and Ukonwa Kuzi-Orizu Ojo, Chief Marketing Officer for Prime Video and Amazon studios, shared the streaming service immediate plans for content acquisition in Nollywood.

Is this your first experience in Nollywood and what has it been like so far?

Farrell: I’ve been watching the films for a little while now and I’ve always been excited to get here and to start figuring out how we start producing Nigerian content for Amazon globally. So, going in, I knew I was going to meet some ambitious and creative people.

Distribution is arguably one of the toughest challenges in Nollywood. Creators have great ideas but struggle with getting them to the right audience. So, what is Amazon’s criteria for content acquisition?

We are considering content acquisition using three data points. The first would be how many people will be interested in watching these content? Is it an idea that a lot of people want to watch? How many people are going to sign up to watch it? Which is also an indicator of when you’re a relatively new service in the country, you want something that makes people want to really say ‘Wow! I gotta see that’ and the last one is how many people finish it because we are definitely a quality over quantity service so if they are not finishing it, that means they didn’t like it and we didn’t do our jobs. I think we look at those data points and hopefully that leads to making the right decisions.

Will you be commissioning Amazon Originals from Nigeria?

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Ukonwa : We didn’t get dressed up for nothing! We know that Nigerian customers love global originals but the game changer for us is to actually come here and partner with creators from here to create amazing content not just for the Nigerian market but for our over 200 million Prime members all over the world who love great movies wherever they come from, who love great TV shows no matter where they come from in 240 countries. Our ambition for Nigerian creators is beyond Nigeria, it’s to take beautiful culture of Nigeria to expose it to many people as possible.

Following up on this, what’s Amazon’s strategy for marketing local content once acquired?

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Ukonwa: First of all, content acquisition for us comes from a place of genuine love and passion for Nigerian content. So James loves it, I love it, so we are very passionate about taking what we’ve already seen and love and making even more of that and taking that to another level with additional support and resources.

Then there’s partnering with the creators and asking critical questions like what inspired the story, what audience they hope to showcase to? The audience they hope to connect with and how they intend to connect with the customer. Once this done, we create our marketing materials.

So, from trailers to posters to social media conversations and marketing stunts and PR, We put the whole Amazon marketing team behind it and create a bespoke campaign for the content. So basically, introduce it in a way that we know will work globally to our customers and customers everywhere.

We will be creating the stories alongside the creators which is why I said it comes from a genuine passion to really work with the creators to make sure that we are bottling up the intents that they have and really sharing it in that unadulterated state to all the people that they want to connect with. We co-create the marketing together from the very beginning to the very end and try to introduce to as many people as possible.

Netflix which happens to be one of your strongest competitors in Nigeria at the moment has lately been criticized for opting to work with only a handful of creatives. How do you plan to be accessible to every content creator with a story to tell?

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Ukonwa: While we can’t speak to Netflix processes, I can tell you what the process is at Amazon. We are a high-touch service. A worthy note is that we are all here, meeting with creators and getting a sense of what their vision is, talking to them about what they want to be, what are they passionate about, what stories do they want to tell. That’s direct access from the beginning. We are modelling the intent for our service which is the high-touch home for talents.

Any final message for content creators?

Farrell: I want people to think big. Let’s make good movies and really great shows. Let’s do it as you want to write it. Don’t censor yourself before I’ve even had a chance to see it.

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