Former SuperSport boss gone from Amazon Prime Video

Former MultiChoice executive Gideon Khobane has departed Amazon Prime Video after the streaming giant headhunted him last year.

Khobane was at MultiChoice for over fifteen years, beginning his career in M-Net’s marketing department in 2008.

He was appointed channel director for M-Net, M-Net Edge, and M-Net City in 2015.

A year later, he became SuperSport CEO, where he served for over four years.

MultiChoice appointed him as group executive for general entertainment in November 2020.

In 2023, he was headhunted to become the director of Prime Video Africa. He started at the American streaming giant in April. By May 2024, he was gone — likely retrenched.

Khobane declined a request for comment.

Khobane’s departure came amid a larger restructuring at Amazon Prime Video.

News that Amazon was laying off hundreds of workers at its streaming service surfaced in the second week of January.

A week later, Variety reported that Amazon had cut its African and Middle Eastern content budgets to focus entirely on its European expansion.

South African TV journalist Thinus Ferreira reported at the time that Khobane had probably not been spared the axe.

When Amazon first headhunted Khobane, it said his new role as Prime Video Africa director signalled the company’s “continued, long-term investment in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Less than a year later, Amazon changed its mind completely.

“We’ve been carefully looking at our business to ensure we continue to prioritise our resources on what matters most to customers,” Prime Video EMEA boss Barry Furlong reportedly told staff in a January email.

“I have carefully evaluated our structure in the region and decided to make some adjustments to our operating model to rebalance and pivot our resources to focus on the areas that drive the highest impact and long-term success.”

Existential threat to South African broadcasters

The Department of Communication and Digital Technologies recently said that streaming services pose an existential threat to South African broadcasters.

“On-demand music and video online streaming services are seriously disrupting the industry globally,” it stated in its annual performance plan for 2024/25.

The department’s remarks come five years after industry regulator Icasa proposed interventions to break MultiChoice’s dominance in several key areas.

The regulator launched an inquiry, which concluded that MultiChoice dominates South Africa’s subscription broadcasting market in several key areas.

It proposed several remedies, including forcing the unbundling of certain high-value sports rights and limiting the number of Hollywood studios with which a broadcaster may have exclusive agreements.

It also proposed that satellite decoders should be interoperable with multiple services.

MultiChoice hit back at Icasa’s draft findings, launching legal action against the regulator.

It warned that over-regulating South African broadcasters would put them at a major disadvantage to international streaming giants Netflix and YouTube.

Two years went by, and Icasa reopened the inquiry.

During its 2021 presentation, MultiChoice said global streaming video services were their biggest competitors and “an existential competitive threat.”

Icasa seemed to take MultiChoice’s submission to heart and rebooted its subscription TV market inquiry in May 2022.

Since then, MultiChoice has been coy whenever asked about the threat services like Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video pose.

Responding to recent questions from MyBroadband, MultiChoice only acknowledged that streaming services are disruptive and said it was increasing its investment in local content to remain competitive.

“MultiChoice is the biggest funder of local content in Africa and produces thousands of hours of local content annually, further expanding our local content library,” it said.

“Our customers love to watch stories that resonate with them,” it said.

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