July 29, 2021

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Netflix Needs You to Binge Watch Extra Korean Dramas

Netflix Inc.


NFLX 1.33%

will make investments $500 million this 12 months in South Korean movies and TV collection, tapping one in every of Asia’s cultural powerhouses as world competitors for viewers attracts extra rival providers and expands past American content material.

It’s one in every of Netflix’s most important abroad investments lately. The spending additionally marks a deeper dedication to a South Korean leisure trade having fun with heightened prominence following the shock success of the movie “Parasite,” which final 12 months received 4 Oscars together with finest image—the primary non-English-language movie to take action.

Between 2015 and 2020, Netflix spent about $700 million on Korean content material, on each licensing outdoors titles and making about 80 authentic movies and TV collection.

That features a three-year partnership with one in every of South Korea’s main leisure firms, CJ ENM Co., plus its manufacturing subsidiary Studio Dragon Corp. The deal has already produced hits reminiscent of “Candy Dwelling,” an apocalyptic suspense collection. It has been watched by greater than 22 million Netflix member households after its December debut, Netflix stated final month, making it one of many Los Gatos, Calif.-based firm’s extra in style Korean-produced reveals.

“Our dedication in direction of Korea is robust. We’ll proceed to speculate and collaborate with Korean storytellers throughout a wealth of genres and codecs,” stated Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s co-chief govt officer, in a web based press convention on Thursday.

As its U.S. subscriber development has slowed lately, Netflix has been spending aggressively on authentic content material overseas, because the pandemic retains folks at dwelling and supercharges demand. The streaming service handed the 200 million subscriber mark on the finish of 2020 and far of that development got here from abroad. Within the last three months of 2020, Netflix added two million subscribers in Asia, plus 4.5 million in Europe, the Center East and Africa—in contrast with 860,000 within the U.S. and Canada.

A part of the motivation for Netflix’s world funding comes from elevated competitors within the U.S. from new providers together with Walt Disney Co.’s Disney+. In its most up-to-date letter to shareholders, Netflix cited its new rivals as a main cause for “why we’ve been shifting so shortly to develop and additional strengthen our authentic content material library throughout a spread of genres and nations.”

Moreover South Korea, Netflix is trying to increase native content material in Europe, the Center East and Africa. The corporate has additionally invested closely in India, spending $400 million on native content material throughout 2019 and 2020. Netflix is planning to unveil a big programming dedication for Indian content material as effectively subsequent month, an individual conversant in the matter stated.

In Japan, Netflix has been investing in native anime movies, which is gaining a broader fan base globally. Netflix stated final 12 months it had 16 anime tasks within the works with a Tokyo-based anime manufacturing hub.

World streaming providers like Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu and Amazon Prime have created a paradigm shift in how content material is seen and appreciated, stated John Penotti, co-chief govt officer at SK World Leisure in Santa Monica, Calif., who produced the 2018 box-office hit “Loopy Wealthy Asians.” Mr. Penotti is working with Netflix on a undertaking in regards to the 2018 Thai cave rescue of a youth soccer crew.

“We’re shifting on this course the place the technical capabilities of those platforms have allowed for viewer appreciation around the globe” of culturally-specific reveals, Mr. Penotti stated.

About 3.8 million South Korean households are subscribed to Netflix, in line with the corporate. Month-to-month distinctive viewers soared 64% in November in contrast with the beginning of 2020, in line with a Nielsen Korea report, printed final week.

In South Korea, Netflix has thus far relied closely on each its originals and licensed content material to woo viewers. Fashionable South Korean collection on Netflix have included a large collection of licensed content material such because the inter-Korean hit romance drama “Crash Touchdown on You,” that includes South Korean A-list actors Son Ye-jin and Hyun Bin, and “Sky Citadel,” a collection spotlighting the nation’s private-education frenzy.

However the funding in South Korea’s leisure trade brings ambitions to draw viewers world-wide, too. The nation for many years has developed a pipeline of exportable popular culture—referred to as “hallyu” or the Korean Wave—first spreading throughout Asia however lately discovering a extra world market.

“Audiences around the globe are falling in love with Korean tales, artists, and tradition,” stated Minyoung Kim, a Netflix vice chairman of content material for Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, in a Thursday weblog put up in regards to the recent funding.

Past the success of “Parasite,” South Korea has seen its different cultural exports thrive. The Okay-pop band BTS has topped the U.S. Billboard charts and obtained a Grammy nomination. One other group, Blackpink, was featured in a Netflix documentary and one in every of its hit songs not too long ago handed 1.5 billion views on YouTube.

In the meantime, world demand for Korean content material is increasing past dramas and movies to incorporate leisure selection and comedy reveals, stated Shin Su-yeon, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities Co., a brokerage in Seoul.

“Netflix additionally appears to be catching onto this rising demand for lighter leisure,” Ms. Shin stated.

Write to Eun-Younger Jeong at [email protected] and Joe Flint at [email protected]

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