A scene from Netflix’s “Squid Game.”

Source: Netflix

Popularity NetflixThe successful drama “Squid Game” and other Korean series, as well as the recent success of films such as “Minari” and “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” have helped increase the demand for Asian-language movies and TV shows worldwide.

Much of this demand comes from US viewers having easier access to global content than ever before thanks to major streaming services such as Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery‘s Max, as well as niche offerings like Rakuten Viki, which focuses on Asian entertainment.

The unwieldy libraries of streaming services have led some media companies to implement cost-cutting efforts to make the apps profitable. However, investment in Asian, especially Korean, content is still high.

Popular around the world

The share of global demand for content in Asian languages ​​reached 25% in the first quarter of this year, up from around 15% in the same period in 2020, according to data provider Parrot Analytics.

While the supply of such content has outstripped demand — meaning more is being produced than people are watching — the gap between the two is narrowing, said Brandon Katz, entertainment industry strategist at Parrot. During the first quarter, supply was 4.7% higher than demand in the Asian languages ​​category, an improvement from 9.8% in the first quarter of 2020.

“Some might think that supply exceeding global demand might mean a slight drop in investment. But that gap is closing a lot,” Katz said, pointing to the success of Netflix hits like “All of Us Are Dead” and “Glory.” “Continuous progress is being made, which has shown in 2022.”

Since the beginning of this year, these titles, along with “Squid Game” and “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” have continuously claimed four spots on Netflix. global top 10 non-English TV hits. The thriller show “Squid Game” took first place for charm.

Last month, Netflix he said will expand its Korean content, roughly doubling its total investment since the company began offering its offering in Korea in 2016. The behemoth streaming service said it plans to invest $2.5 billion over the next four years to produce more Korean shows and movies . The investment comes after 60% of all Netflix members watched at least one Korean title by 2022.

While global demand for Korean-language TV shows has grown since the early 2020s, it has still been outpaced by content supply. Meanwhile, that demand is flat compared to other Asian TV series, specifically Japanese and Chinese, according to Parrot.

Netflix will focus on more than just the increasingly popular Korean drama genre, Don Kang, Netflix’s vice president of Korean content, he recently said CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

“Our main focus is the local audience in Korea. We found that if a show is loved by the Korean audience, there is a very, very high probability that it will be loved by the audience or members around the world,” Kang said.

Outside the mainstream

Netflix is ​​part of a larger trend. His favorite shows – along with hit Asian-American movies like “Minari” and “Everything Everywhere, Suddenly” which recently he swept top awards at this year’s Oscars — have taken advantage of other streaming platforms and opened up American audiences to exploring more Asian films and TV shows.

Rakuten Viki Home Page

Source: Rakuten Viki

Rakuten Viki, a streaming service in possession the Japanese e-commerce giant Rakutenhas seen a surge in various Asian language content in recent years.

The company said its registered user base grew by 27% globally in 2022, leading the streamer to increase investment in content by 17%. Korean content remains the majority of what is consumed on the service, but viewership for shows in Japanese, Chinese and Thai has also increased.

Karen Paek, vice president of marketing at Rakuten Viki, said in an interview that while the company has been in the Asian entertainment space for more than 10 years, it has recently seen a growing interest and passion around the world for its shows, which are mostly licensed.

“Specifically with Viki, we’ve seen a shift in the ethnic makeup of our viewership towards non-Asians,” Paek said. “But at the same time, the whole size of the audience is growing.”

Paek said the streamer sees an increase in registered viewers and viewership in general when hits like “Squid Game” go mainstream.

The user base for Rakuten Viki has been so enthusiastic that most of its content is actually captioned by a community of volunteers around the world. Its content is mainly produced and created in Asian countries, although the service licenses hits like “The Farewell”, especially during Asian American Pacific Islander month for its American audience.

Other streaming services are following suit. Max he said during AAPI month, Asian content would be increased and highlighted.

“We’re seeing a shift in the audience in terms of what they’re open to watching outside of K-dramas,” Paek said, pointing to Chinese and Japanese dramas, as well as the “Thai boy love genre,” which has been a big hit. for service.

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