Business & Finance

Gideon Khobane’s Departure from Amazon Prime Video Amid Restructuring

Gideon Khobane, a seasoned executive in the broadcasting industry, has left Amazon Prime Video less than a year after being appointed as the director of Prime Video Africa. His departure aligns with a larger restructuring at Amazon Prime Video, which includes significant layoffs and budget cuts focused on the company’s European expansion.

Gideon Khobane, a former MultiChoice executive, has parted ways with Amazon Prime Video, where he served as the director of Prime Video Africa. Khobane’s exit, likely due to retrenchment, occurred in May 2024, just a year after he joined the American streaming giant in April 2023.

Khobane’s career spans over fifteen years at MultiChoice, starting in M-Net’s marketing department in 2008. He progressed to channel director for M-Net, M-Net Edge, and M-Net City in 2015, and was appointed SuperSport CEO in 2016, a position he held for over four years. In November 2020, he became MultiChoice’s group executive for general entertainment before being headhunted by Amazon Prime Video.

Khobane’s departure comes amid a broader restructuring at Amazon Prime Video, which involved laying off hundreds of employees and slashing content budgets for Africa and the Middle East to prioritize European expansion. In January 2024, Barry Furlong, Prime Video EMEA boss, announced adjustments to the operating model to focus on high-impact areas for long-term success.

The streaming service’s strategic pivot starkly contrasts its initial commitment to a long-term investment in sub-Saharan Africa when Khobane was hired. Despite Khobane’s significant industry experience and the initial promise of growth in the African market, the restructuring led to his swift exit.

Existential Threat to South African Broadcasters

The Department of Communication and Digital Technologies in South Africa recently highlighted the existential threat posed by streaming services to local broadcasters. The annual performance plan for 2024/25 noted that online streaming services are significantly disrupting the industry globally.

Five years ago, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) proposed interventions to curb MultiChoice’s dominance. These included unbundling high-value sports rights and limiting exclusive agreements with Hollywood studios. MultiChoice responded with legal action, arguing that over-regulation would disadvantage local broadcasters compared to international giants like Netflix and YouTube.

In 2021, MultiChoice emphasized that global streaming services were their primary competitors and an existential threat. Icasa acknowledged this concern and restarted its subscription TV market inquiry in 2022. MultiChoice, meanwhile, has increased its investment in local content to stay competitive, producing thousands of hours annually to cater to their audience’s preferences.

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