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Erika North Joins Amazon Studios in Asia (EXCLUSIVE)

Seasoned Asian TV production executive, Erika North has joined Amazon as head of Asia-Pacific Originals at Amazon Studios.

North’s LinkedIn profile was updated to show her new status since February. North did not respond to  enquiries, but an Amazon source with knowledge of the situation told Variety that she took up the role from Tuesday.

The move points to Amazon expanding its streaming presence in Asia, a massive region, but one not yet fully served by Amazon’s local content production capacity.

James Farrell, who was promoted to head of international originals in 2018, was previously based in Japan, and green-lighted series in both Japan and India. But he relocated to North America after his promotion, to lead the international original teams in Japan, India, Europe, Mexico and Brazil. North will report to Farrell.

North previously held similar positions at HBO Asia and subsequently at Netflix, with both roles based in Singapore. Her LinkedIn posting suggests she will remain in Singapore.

Within Asia, Amazon operates its Prime retail membership service, with which the streaming platform enjoys a symbiotic relationship, in Japan, India, Australia, and Singapore. That relationship is often referred to by Amazon executives as a “fly wheel” effect, with each force helping to drive the other.

Additionally, Amazon Prime Video was launched in Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam in December 2016.

North was at HBO Asia between 2009 and 2017 and has executive producer credits on HBO’s “Serangoon Road,” “Halfworlds” and “The Teenage Psychic” as well as a writer-producer credit on horror series “Grace.”

North joined Netflix at its Asia hub in early 2017, and departed in mid Nov. 2019. Netflix green-lighted a range of content in Asia on North’s watch, including three Chinese-language series: crime thriller, “Nowhere Man”; Neal Wu-directed action comedy, “Triad Princess,” which got its first airing from December last year and “The Ghost Bride,” a period thriller set in 1890s Malacca.

Asia represents huge opportunity for Amazon, but also significant challenges. Southeast Asia alone has a huge population of over 600 million, many of whom are young and tech savvy. But the region is fragmented by culture and language. Its vastly different levels of economic development is a factor that keeps monthly subscriptions out of the reach of many.

Despite those challenges, Southeast Asia is a highly competitive streaming scene. It has witnessed the development of multi-territory regional streaming services including iflix, Hooq and Viu; the arrival of global players (Netflix and Amazon); and the first stages of international expansion outside Greater China by Chinese streaming giants Tencent Video and iQIYI.

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