Netflix Is Focusing On Asia But China Remains Elusive

After having gained about 200 million subscribers, and cementing its position as the leader in the streaming video industry, Netflix is now making a big push to grow further in its fastest-growing region – Asia.

In 2020, 9.3 million paid subscribers were added in Asia Pacific which was 65 per cent more than in the previous year. There was also an almost 62 per cent growth in revenues from the region compared to a 40 per cent growth in revenues from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

That performance has prompted Netflix to focus more and depute more resources in Asia. The company plans to increase its budget for original content in the region this year by almost 100 per cent with the hope of amassing even more new customers in India, South Korea, Japan and elsewhere in Asia.  

However mainland China remains off limits for the company for the time being.

“We’re excited — massively excited, I would say — about the potential in Asia,” Greg Peters, the company’s chief operating officer and chief product officer, said in a television interview. “There’s literally hundreds and hundreds of millions of people that we’re still trying to find a great way to connect with and entertain.”

Five years ago, Netflix entered the Asian market through its launch in Japan. Peters said that back then, the California-based company was essentially viewed as “a startup” in Asia, and added that the company did not have any local offices or local employees. 

Things have changed since then.

The “next 100 million” users would come from India alone, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings predicted three years ago. Since then there has been “big growth” in viewing in India. About $2 billion between 2018 and 2020 was spent by Netflix in the region to license or create new content from the region. The video streaming company currently has more than 200 original Asian titles in its library. The company also currently has 600 local staff in Asia and has set up its APAC headquarters in Singapore.

The winning strategy of the company for Asia is partly comprised of marketing or adapting hit shows from the West for the Asian audiences. A special season of “Queer Eye,” where the cast performed makeovers in Japan, was rolled out by the company in 2019. A South Korean version of “Money Heist,” a Spanish crime drama that has been given critical and audience acclaim, was also announced by the company in December.

However the company has realised that adaptations of Western shows is not particularly watched by the Asian audiences.

The company “knew that local content was going to be a really important factor for growing our business in Asia” at eth time when Minyoung Kim joined Netflix in 2016 as its first Asia-based content executive, she said.

“We just didn’t have … proof,” added Kim, who is vice president of content for Netflix in South Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Expansion in Asia also entailed Netflix expanding the number of languages it supported. Currently Netflix is available in 35 languages including Hindi, Chinese, Vietnamese and Malay.

(Adapted from Madison.com)

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