Netflix’s Investment in South Korean Media

As Domestic Subscriber Growth Slows, Netflix Looks for International Viewers

Netflix (NFLX) is planning to spend $500 million on South Korean films and TV shows this year, one of its largest recent international investments. As the streaming industry becomes more crowded, Netflix wants to maintain its lead and is hoping that audiences around the world will be drawn to its South Korean content.

Netflix hit the 200 million subscriber benchmark at the end of 2020. Its subscriber growth in the US has fallen recently, so it is doubling down on gaining international subscribers. During the last quarter of 2020, Netflix gained 2 million subscribers in Asia and 4.5 million in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. It added just 860,000 in the US and Canada during the same time frame.

South Korean Media Gains Global Attention

The South Korean entertainment industry is gaining attention on a global scale. The film Parasite made history at last year’s Oscars, becoming the first non-English-language title to win best picture. It also took home three other academy awards.

Other South Korean cultural exports are also gaining ground around the world. K-pop band BTS received a Grammy nomination and has topped billboard charts in the US. South Korean variety and comedy shows are also gaining international fans.

Other Investments in International Content

Netflix is also pouring resources into local content in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, as well as other parts of Asia. The streaming giant spent $400 million on local content in India during 2019 and 2020 and it is expected to announce another significant investment in Indian content next month. Netflix is also working on anime films with Japanese companies and this content is gaining fans worldwide.

Streaming services have seen viewership numbers spike during the pandemic as people have searched for ways to pass the time at home. As vaccine rollout unfolds, there will be more in-person entertainment options competing for people’s attention. There are also an increasing number of streaming platforms crowding into the space. Netflix sees international content as a way to maintain its lead.

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