Amazon Prime Video is hatching plans to launch its streaming service in Southeast Asia, the company said on Thursday. But its announcement had more the feel of a creative call to arms than a fully-developed business plan.
The company unveiled a plan to open a regional office in Singapore and said that it will add Indonesia, Thailand, The Philippines and Singapore to its Asian footprint, which currently spans only three countries.
“We are thrilled to announce that, and that we will now add Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore to the canon of Japan, Australia, and India in the APAC region,” said Erika North, director of Amazon Originals at Prime Video.
She was speaking at the Asia TV Forum and Market in Singapore. Her fireside chat was styled largely as an appeal to local creators about production and partnerships.
She disclosed no information about subscriber costs, telco or cable partnerships, or international content.
Similarly, she offered few clues about the timeline to launch. “We are at ‘day one’ when we think of South East Asia,” she said. “We are also looking for a director for the South East Asia Prime Video business, so there is immense opportunity.”
Amazon’s website indicates that at least four other Southeast Asia jobs are currently open. These include a senior manager for content acquisition, a social media team leader, a creative director and a recruiting manager.
Significantly, Amazon does not operate its Prime shopping and delivery subscription service in Thailand, Indonesia or The Philippines. That appears to mean that its video services in those countries will operate as pure-play streamers without the benefit of the flywheel effect its executives frequently tout, combining e-commerce and services.
Prime is currently available in Singapore, at a cost of S$2.99 ($2.19) per month. Its country-specific web page says that it already includes video, gaming and free delivery of goods bought online.
“We are truly open for business, and our goal in South East Asia, as much as it is in every other part of the world, is to partner with the top local talents across the region to find stories and opportunities to tell their stories and amplify them across over 200 million Prime members across 240 countries and territories,” said North.
Amazon Studios aims to be a true “home for talent,” North said. She explained that this means “means we want to be top of mind for creatives when they’re thinking about great ideas, and we want to be partners who are genuinely interested in working with them to make great things happen. We care about development. We spend time curating their stories, and we will take pitches at any point in gestation. Over time, we will build that trust as Amazon with the community.”
“It’s truly about stories, giving them the time that they need, understanding the particularities and peculiarities of the format,” she added.
North offered unscripted Japanese series “Documental” as an example of an Asian show that can be expanded onto the international stage. Now in its tenth season in Japan, it has been reformatted and reimagined as LOL: Last One Laughing around the world. “It is the number 1 show for Prime Video in Italy, Germany, and it’s in the top three among multiple markets where it launched including Mexico,” said North.
Other Amazon content now being made in Asia-Pacific includes “The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart,” an Australian book-to-film adaptation that stars Sigourney Weaver; and the service’s first Japanese original film “Homestay.” The picture is a YA supernatural romance based on a “Colorful,” a novel by Mori Eto, and stars Nagao Kento in his first feature film role alongside Anna Yamada.