Netflix doubles down on Korean content after achieving global impact with viral series like squid game, Glory And Physical: 100.
The streamer said in a statement to local Korean media on Monday that it will spend $2.5 billion in South Korea over the next four years to produce TV dramas, movies and unscripted shows. The sizable investment would be double what Netflix spent in Korea between its local launch in 2016 and today, according to the company.
The investment plans were first shared during a meeting between South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos in Washington, where Yoon arrived on Monday for a visit. State.
“We were able to make this decision because we believe that the Korean creative industry will continue to tell great stories,” Sarandos said. “I am confident that our investment will strengthen our long-term partnership with Korea and the Korean creative ecosystem,” he added.
The meeting with the Korean president took place at the Blair House in Washington and Sarandos was joined by Bela Bajaria, chief content officer of Netflix; Minyoung Kim, vice president of content for Asia-Pacific (excluding India); and Kang Dong-han, vice president of Korean content.
According to local Korean press, Yoon encouraged Netflix’s latest investment pledge, describing it as a “great opportunity” for the South Korean entertainment industry, as well as Netflix.
Sarandos personally launched Netflix’s Korean content ambitions by funding Korean author Bong Joon-ho’s $50 million sci-fi action drama Okja in 2016. Since then, the streamer has both driven and driven the global growth of K content, releasing a string of international hits like sweet home, squid game, Helland more recently, reality TV sensation Physics 100 and feature film Kill Boksoon.
Netflix’s investments in Korean content have proven particularly helpful in boosting subscriptions across Asia, where growth in the premium video industry has yet to plateau. Last year, Netflix released 29 exclusive Korean dramas, 6 of which were among the 10 most-watched titles in Asia-Pacific in 2022, according to regional consultancy MPA. Korean dramas were also the most-watched content category in Asia-Pacific last year, accounting for 28% of total viewers in the region, followed by 25% for American series, 12% for American movies and 10% for Japanese cartoons, according to MPA. analysis.
However, Netflix is not alone in being optimistic about the Korean content sector. Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+ are all spending heavily to acquire and produce original Korean content, which has quickly driven up the costs of top talent and titles, according to industry veterans on the market. Korean domestic streaming services – including operators with strong local backers, like Tving (backed by studio giant CJ ENM, broadcaster JTBC and tech company Naver) and Wavve (co-owned by broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS and SK Telecom) – are also investing heavily in local content to win eyeballs at home and in the region.
When meeting with Yoon, Sarandos described Korean designers as now being “at the heart of the global cultural zeitgeist”.