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Global demand for streaming Asian movies, TV grows


Scene from “Squid Game” by Netflix

Source: Netflix

The recognition of Netflix‘s hit drama “Squid Game” and other Korean series, in addition to the recent success of movies like “Minari” and “Every little thing In every single place All At Once,” has helped boost the demand for Asian language movies and TV shows globally.

A big a part of that demand comes as U.S. viewers have easier access to global content than ever before because of major streaming services reminiscent of Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery‘s Max, in addition to area of interest offerings like Rakuten Viki, which focuses on Asian entertainment.

Streaming services’ unwieldy libraries have led to some media firms implementing cost-cutting efforts to make the apps profitable. But investment in Asian, especially Korean, content continues to be high.

Loved world wide

The share of worldwide demand for Asian language content reached 25% in the primary quarter of this 12 months, up from about 15% in the identical period in 2020, based on data provider Parrot Analytics.

While supply of such content outstripped demand — meaning there’s more produced than persons are watching — the gap between the 2 is narrowing, said Brandon Katz, an entertainment industry strategist at Parrot. Through the first quarter, supply was 4.7% greater than demand within the Asian language category, an improvement from 9.8% in the primary quarter of 2020.

“Some might think that offer outstripping demand globally could mean a slight pullback in investment might be on the table. But that gap could be very much shrinking,” Katz said, pointing to the success of Netflix hits reminiscent of “All of Us Are Dead” and “The Glory.” “There’s regular progress being made, which was reflected in 2022.”

Because the starting of this 12 months, those titles, together with “Squid Game” and “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” have constantly claimed 4 spots on Netflix’s global top 10 non-English TV hits. Thriller show “Squid Game” took the primary spot for a spell.

Last month, Netflix said it will grow its Korean content, roughly doubling the overall investment because the company began its offering in Korea in 2016. The behemoth streaming service said it plans to take a position $2.5 billion over the subsequent 4 years to supply more Korean shows and flicks. The investment comes after 60% of all Netflix members watched not less than one Korean title in 2022.

While global demand for Korean-language TV shows has increased since early 2020, it has still been outpaced by the availability of the content. Meanwhile, that demand has stagnated compared to other Asian language TV series, specifically Japanese and Chinese, based on Parrot.

Netflix will deal with greater than the increasingly popular Korean drama genre, Don Kang, Netflix’s vice chairman of Korean content, recently told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

“Our primary focus is the local audience in Korea. We have found time after time, when a show is loved by a Korean audience, it has a really, very high likelihood of being loved by the audiences or members world wide,” Kang said.

Beyond the mainstream

Netflix is an element of a bigger trend. Its popular shows — together with hit Asian American movies reminiscent of “Minari” and “Every little thing In every single place All At Once,” which recently swept the main awards on the Oscars this 12 months —have benefitted other streaming platforms and opened the U.S. audience as much as exploring more Asian movies and TV shows.

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Rakuten Viki homepage

Source: Rakuten Viki

Rakuten Viki, a streaming service owned by Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten, has seen a surge in growth in recent times across various Asian language content.

The corporate said its registered user base grew by 27% globally in 2022, leading the streamer to extend its investment in content by 17% that 12 months. Korean content stays the vast majority of what’s consumed on the service, but viewership for Japanese, Chinese and Thai-language shows increased, too.

Karen Paek, vice chairman of promoting at Rakuten Viki, said in an interview that while the corporate has been within the Asian entertainment space for greater than 10 years, it’s recently seen a growing interest and keenness world wide for its shows, that are mostly licensed.

“For Viki specifically, we’ve been seeing a shift by way of the ethnic makeup of our viewership toward non-Asians,” Paek said. “But at the identical time, the entire audience size is growing.”

Paek said the streamer sees a lift in registered viewers and viewership usually when hits like “Squid Game” hit the mainstream.

The user base for Rakuten Viki has been so passionate that the subtitles for much of its content are literally generated by a volunteer community world wide. Its content is principally produced and created in Asian countries, although the service licenses hits like “The Farewell,” especially during Asian American Pacific Islander month, for its U.S. audience.

Other streaming services are taking the same approach. Max said it will increase and highlight Asian content during AAPI month.

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

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