A scene from Netflix’s The Squid Game
Popularity NetflixThe hit drama The Squid Game and other Korean dramas, as well as the recent success of films such as Minaret and Everything at Once, have fueled demand for Asian-language movies and TV shows worldwide.
Much of this demand is due to the fact that American viewers have 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 use cost-cutting efforts to make the apps profitable. But investment in Asian, especially Korean, content is still high.
Loved all over the world
According to data provider Parrot Analytics, the share of global demand for Asian-language content reached 25% in the first quarter of this year, up from about 15% in the same period of 2020.
While the supply of such content is outstripping demand — meaning more is being produced than people are watching — the gap between the two is closing, said Brandon Katz, entertainment industry strategist at Parrot. In the first quarter, supply was 4.7% greater than demand in the Asian language category, an improvement from 9.8% in the first quarter of 2020.
“Some might think that supply exceeding demand worldwide might mean a bit of a pullback in investment. But that gap is closing a lot,” Katz said, pointing to the success of Netflix hits like We’re All Dead and Glory. “There is steady progress that has shown itself in 2022.”
Since the beginning of this year, these titles, along with The Squid Game and The Extraordinary Prosecutor Wu, have held four consecutive spots in Netflix’s top 10 global non-English-language TV hits. The thriller show “Squid Game” took the first place in terms of charm.
Last month, Netflix said it would increase its Korean content, roughly doubling its total investment since the company began offering its offerings in Korea in 2016. The streaming service giant 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 have watched at least one Korean movie in 2022.
Although global demand for Korean-language TV shows has increased since the start of 2020, it is still outpaced by content supply. Meanwhile, demand has stagnated compared to other Asian-language series, particularly Japanese and Chinese, according to Parrot.
Netflix will not only focus on the increasingly popular Korean drama genre, Don Kang, Netflix’s vice president of Korean content, said recently on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”
“Our main focus is the local audience in Korea. We’ve often found that if Korean audiences like a show, the chances of it being liked by audiences or members around the world are very, very high,” Kang said.
Outside the mainstream
Netflix is part of a larger trend. Its popular shows — along with popular Asian-American films such as The Minarets and Everything At Once, which recently won top honors at this year’s Academy Awards — have benefited other streaming platforms and opened up U.S. audiences. opportunity to explore more Asian movies and TV series.
Rakuten Viki Home Page
Source: Rakuten Viki
Rakuten Viki, a streaming service owned by the Japanese e-commerce giant Rakutenrecent years have seen a surge in the growth of various content in Asian languages.
The company said its registered user base will grow 27% worldwide in 2022, with the streamer increasing its investment in content by 17% that year. Korean content remains the majority of what is consumed on the service, but views of shows in Japanese, Chinese and Thai have also increased.
Karen Peck, Rakuten Viki’s vice president of marketing, said in an interview that while the company has been in the Asian entertainment space for more than 10 years, there has recently been a growing interest and enthusiasm for its shows, which are mostly licensed, around the world.
“Specifically for Wiki, we’re seeing a shift in terms of the ethnic makeup of our audience towards non-Asians,” Paek said. “But at the same time, the whole audience is growing.”
Payek said the streamer sees an increase in registered viewers and overall audience as hits like The Squid Game hit the mainstream.
Rakuten Viki’s user base has been so enthusiastic that subtitles for much of its content are created by a volunteer community around the world. Its content is primarily 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 take a similar approach. Max said that during AAPI month, it will increase and highlight Asian content.
“We’re seeing a change in the audience in terms of what they’re willing to watch outside of K-dramas,” Paek said, pointing to Chinese and Japanese dramas, as well as the “Thai boy” genre, which has become a big hit. for the service.