Amazon Prime Video strikes back in Southeast Asia

Amazon has unveiled its ambitious plan to conquer the highly coveted region: the company is to launch brand new streaming products in Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

It was about time, as the figures have been all the more disappointing and competition with its rivals is fiercely increasing. Although Amazon Prime Video has been available across Southeast Asia since 2016, the platform has struggled if not failed to take off. Meanwhile, local platforms such as Filipino Vivamax are thriving, and Disney+ Hotstar reports 55 million subscribers, two years following its coup de maître.

However, Amazon refuses to be defeated and this revamp could be successful in the region for several reasons.

Localised content and user experience

History has proven over and over that to succeed in Southeast Asia, platforms need to offer their customers a targeted experience. SVOD subscribers are interested in local stories and traditional values. Big US giants are beginning to learn their lessons and started investing massively in regional content and talents. For the first time ever, Amazon announced it will be developing several original productions in Indonesia and Thailand, as well as Southeast Asian remakes of successful Western productions like the Italian hit “Perfect Strangers”. The studio already greenlighted three versions of “Comedy Island”, a new situational comedy improv where eight comedians and celebrities take part in challenges and games. On a technical level, Amazon Prime Video’s interfaces are now available in local languages and subtitling will be more widely available.

Affordable pricing and free trials

Efforts are also being made in terms of prices, which is a critical issue in Southeast Asia where subscribers are very price-sensitive. In its new model, Amazon Prime Video is available for around $4 a month in Indonesia and Thailand (IDR 59,000 and THB 149) and $3 a month in the Philippines (PHP 149), following a seven-day free trial. This business initiative is coherent to try matching much lower regional ARPUs, in a region where piracy is still widely used and free content is favoured.

Full-scale local marketing campaign

Amazon also launched 360° marketing campaigns in the three countries in partnership with local celebrities, who have a huge influence on Southeast Asian consumer behaviours through their enthusiastic use of social media. The studios also worked with local producers to conceive video campaigns playing on local stereotypes: for example, the Filipino campaign highlighting the cliché that Filipinos are always late to ironically mirror the late arrival of Prime in the region.

Amazon clearly understood the assignment, but this sudden wake-up call also reflects a more general attitude of giant platforms on the verge of losing their leadership, such as Netflix which almost lost a million subscribers and subsequently launched an ad-supported offer in the US. The streaming competition landscape in Southeast Asia is more ruthless than ever and demands an impeccable comprehension of each market, far from the “one-size-fits-all” strategy adopted so far by some SVOD giants. With its bold plan, Amazon is on the road to redemption.

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