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Netflix Hunt For Next Big Hit In South Korea, Japan and India!

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NETFLIX

Credits: Nikkei Asia

Netflix is investing heavily to create new content in Asian markets like South Korea, Japan and India, recruiting new partners and searching for emerging talent to capture audiences in the increasingly important region.

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While in last month, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said the streaming platform was looking to bolster partnerships with South Korean content producers. He met with production company executives and creators as part of the trip.

Netflix has enjoyed major success with South Korean movies and shows, starting with the 2021 release of  "Squid Game"; which has become its most popular series of all time, and followed by  "The Glory", a tale of revenge against bullying. About 60% of its roughly 200 million subscribers worldwide have now watched a South Korean title, and the viewership of South Korean content has grown sixfold in four years.

"I love Korean dramas because they make me excited until the ending. I always watch the new on", says Ann Keller, a Seattle resident in the U.S. state of Washington. Sarandos met with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on his trip to Washington in April, pledging to invest $2.5 billion in South Korea over the next four years- double the figure from 2016 to 2022. It aims to foster young creators, betting that interest in up-and-coming Korean writers and directors will grow.

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Netflix could invest $1.9 billion into new content in the Asia-Pacific region this year, according to research company media partners Asia. With deep pockets, the platform is also expanding production teams in Japan and India.

"Sanctuary',  a Japanese coming-of-age drama about an aspiring sumo wrestler, ranked among the top 10 non-English TV shows on Netflix for two straight weeks following its May release. A netflix executive had immediately greenlighted the project after hearing the pitch, eager to offer a glimpse into the often secretive world of sumo.

Netflix aggresively advertised the series during the grand sumo tournament over the summer. Japan Sumo Association Chairman Hakkaku reportedly watched the show as well. Last month, Netflix signed a five-year contract with Yuji Sakamoto, who won best screenplay for the film "Kaibutsu" at this year's Cannes Film Festival, to develop exclusive titles for the platform. It has also partnered with The Seven, a production unit of Tokyo- based broadcaster TBS Holdings, and other industry players.

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With Netflix producing more TV series and movies in Japan, the country could account for at least 25% of the platform's revenue in the Asia-Pacific region this year, according to an industry analyst.

In India, Netflix signed a multiyear contract with director Hansal Mehta following the success of his crime drama "Scoop". It also started offering $10,000 grant to make short films last year to uncover the next generation of talent in the country. Netflix's Asia push comes as the platform faces cuthroat competition at home, slowing growth. Revenue increased about 4% on the year to $8.16 billion in January-March, falling short of market expectations. Net profit dropped 18% to $1.31 billion.

Over 80% of new subscribers gained that quater, and around 60% of the net increase in 2022, came from Asia. Because the platform faces restrictions in China, other markets in the region have become increasingly important to growth. But rivals are also focusing on  Asia. In 2021, Japan accounted for the largest number of viewers on  Amazon Prime Video after the U.S.

Amazon plans to increase original content by around 50% worldwide in 2023. It expects to significantly expand its original Japanese programming by 2025 as well. Other challenges loom for Netflix . Because the platform holds intellectual property rights to most original titles, prodiuction companies say they are unable to leverage the content they worked on into related business opportunities. This has lead to concerns in South Korea that production companies could end up stuck as subcontractors for Netflix.

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