Prime Video ‘thrilled’ to capture Philippines market with Rings of Power

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Prime Video âthrilledâ to capture Philippines market with Rings of Power
Josh McIvor, Prime Video’s director for International Expansion, and Erika North, head of Asia- Pacific Originals at Amazon Studios, during a gathering with local press at The Grand Hyatt Manila in BGC.
Prime Video

The Philippine market is “incredibly important” to Amazon’s streaming service Prime Video as it steps up expansion plans in the country and the rest of Southeast Asia.

“We’re available in 240 countries worldwide but what we’ve started to do this year is really localize our service in Southeast Asia,” Josh McIvor, Prime Video’s director for International Expansion, recently told The STAR in an exclusive interview.

“And for us, localization means a bunch of things, products that really work for the local (customers) — local payments, local language support, distribution, making sure we’re widely distributed through local mobile operators and device manufacturers. And setting up local marketing teams in the region and ensuring that we’re doing regionally sensitive marketing,” added the executive who oversees the international streamer’s business in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

One of the strategies was launching a brand campaign in August that introduced actress and host Anne Curtis as the “face” of Prime Video. “And that’s just the beginning,” McIvor said.

Still, the most important part of their approach is content, he said. “So really investing in the best of local storytellers and creating shows for audiences here in the Philippines and across Southeast Asia, but also to take stories from these regions to the world,” he pointed out. “So yes, (the Philippines is) an incredibly important country in Asia for Prime Video.”

Last year, Prime Video announced that 175 million members were streaming their shows and movies. “And we believe that the next chapter of our growth is international,” McIvor said.

He further shared that they spent the past two years “really figuring out how to do all those things I just mentioned in terms of localization across several regions. But within Southeast Asia, specifically this year, our starting point is focusing on Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore.”

Prime Video has recognized localization as a way to go for its growth approach after listening to customers. “So, while we have lots of viewership and our global shows like Jack Brian, Reacher, The Rings of Power are super popular in the Philippines, there’s also a real reverence and importance to the (local) stories. So, we listened to them and they told us what they wanted,” the exec further said.

Erika North, who heads Asia-Pacific Originals at Amazon Studios and supervises the development of original content in this region, promised more details about local content to expect in the coming months. But for the meantime, she said, “what we’re most excited about, in principle, is we are at the start of our journey here in Southeast Asia and the Philippines.”

“We really want to be an essential partner and a home for talent and the creative community. You know, to be able to plug into their conversations and ambitions — we know creators in the region have a thirst to create stories — and to embark on originals and co-productions that they’ve never had the chance to engage in before.

“The conversations that we have with the creative community usually start with what’s the story that you’ve wanted to tell but you haven’t had a chance to embark on yet?”

She further stated that Prime Video is eyeing to help local creators and producers “create a new chapter for their productions and creative talent, and at the same time, open the door to bring in new talent because we see this creative depth in the Philippines across the board. And our goal in the Philippines and across Southeast Asia is to harness that and take those stories not only for our local markets but to the world.”

North, who’s half-Filipino, has also tapped Filipino creatives for her team, including filmmaker Quark Henares who is head of Originals for the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the Prime Video execs were happy to confirm that the series The Rings of Power attracted new subscribers from the Philippines. The streamer was able to reach its target within the week of its premiere.

“We had an initial target of how many customers we wanted to sign up in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, and our goal was for 70 days. We hit our goal in the first week. So, we’re really thrilled, you know. It’s an extraordinary production,” McIvor said.

He noted that the pilot episode registered 25 million viewers worldwide, adding, “It’s a global smash and it seems to be really resonating here, too.”

As of writing, The Rings of Power is the No. 1 show being watched by Prime Video’s Filipino members. Set thousands of years before the events in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) novels, it airs Fridays until the Oct. 14 season finale.


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