For Amazon Prime Video, Africa Is The Next Programming Frontier

Nigeria’s “Nollywood” has long been one of the world’s centers of film and video production but it has recently become a hotbed of programming for American-based streamers looking for original material and new stories to serve a diverse global audience. On January 7, Amazon AMZN Prime Video announced a licensing deal with Lagos-based Anthill Studios, following a similar deal with Inkblot Studios in mid-December. Netflix NFLX had earlier signed a license agreement with EbonyLife, which also has deals through Sony and BBC Studios.

According to the deal, Amazon Prime subscribers will have access to Anthill’s theatrical releases after they have completed their theatrical run in Nigeria.

Anthill is a triple threat, producing popualr feature films including Day of Destiny, Prophecies and Elevator Baby, providing state-of-the-art multimedia postproduction facilities, and also boasting the largest animation studio in Nigeria. For Amazon Prime Video, it adds to the company’s portfolio of international content with appeal to diaspora and regional audiences, as well as a line in to the vast talent pool coming out of the continent.

“We are very excited to bring Anthill’s upcoming slates of popular Nollywood movies to Prime Video customers around the world,” said Ayanna Lonian, Prime Video’s director of content acquisition and head of worldwide major studio licensing strategy. “We want to showcase the very best of Nollywood and authentic African stories to our customers and this groundbreaking deal helps us to achieve that goal.”

“Amazon Prime Video is the right kind of home for our stories,”said Anthill founder and creative director Niyi Akinmolayan. “I am really excited because with this licensing deal, we can explore more story ideas, including genres new to Nollywood, like sci-fi and animation, for a global audience.”

One interesting angle on the deal is Anthill’s animation capabilities. Africa is rapidly becoming a center for animation production and original content creation, with properties like Mama K’s Team 4 debuting on Netflix in 2019, Ridwan Moshood’s Garbage Boy and Trash Can finding a home on the Cartoon Network later this year, and several cutting edge animated projects slated for release on Disney+ in 2022 as well.


Nick Wilson, who runs Africa Animation Network, a continent-wide consortium aiming to promote African animation talent and capabilities worldwide, sees Amazon’s interest as continuing the momentum that’s already building. “We welcome any investments and partnerships which serve to grow the film and broadcast industry (inclusive of animation) across the continent,” he said. “It’s fantastic to see the hard work that African individuals, collectives and studios like Anthill have done, being acknowledged and rewarded through international investments and partnerships. And this is only the start!”

He added that “these investments and partnerships have the potential to create large-scale job opportunities and assist in building sustainable businesses, tangible outcomes that could reverberate across the continent for many years to come.”

The Tycoon Herald