TBI Tech & Analysis: How Netflix’s Korean originals are dominating local consumption

The Glory

It’s no secret that streaming giant Netflix has had huge international success with South Korean originals – such as Squid Game, which captured the global zeitgeist in 2021. But a new report from research powerhouses Omdia and PlumResearch explores how original shows from the country are also proving massively popular at home.

South Korea tops the Netflix charts in terms of the number of consumed hours of original content produced in the country from which it originated – with local titles accounting for nearly 68% of watched shows. The US also had a high percentage, at 61.4%, and both countries were very far ahead of the next-placed country, Japan, which had 19.4%.

Viewing of German originals in Germany, meanwhile, was just 2.7% – which may explain the controversial decision to cancel 1899 after just one season.

Squid Game

Local interest

South Korean local consumption has grown strongly over the last few years. From the moment Netflix became available in South Korea, the share of total hours watched going to local originals started to grow rapidly, with the highest increase in 3Q19 and 4Q19.

Netflix partnered with Deloitte to get an accurate third-party assessment of the socio-economic impact of Netflix on the Korean creative ecosystem since 2016. According to Netflix, its “investment in content production in Korea has contributed almost 5.6 trillion won ($4.3bn) to the country’s GDP across related fields, from publishing, to webtoons, to consumer goods. In addition, the report found that we have helped create more than 16,000 jobs.” This statement was published just two weeks after the premiere of the global phenomenon Squid Game.

In South Korea, the country with the highest local viewing index, all of the top five productions in 1Q23 were local, with The Glory leading the ranking far ahead the others. The top foreign title was the Japanese anime Slam Dunk in the 20th spot.

Netflix local originals: share of total original hours watched, 1Q23 as % (Click to expand)

US declines

The picture in South Korea stands in contrast to habits in the US, where the viewing of homegrown originals is declining.

The US, with 39.5%, had the biggest local original content count in 1Q23. This means that of all Netflix originals available on Netflix in the US, almost 40% were produced in the US.

In the US in 1Q23, five US titles took the top places, bu total hours watched of local (US) Netflix originals has gradually declined over time. While continuing strong viewing from acquisitions like Grey’s Anatomy and The Walking Dead is part of this, it may also be an indication that US viewers are becoming more accustomed to viewing non-US originals.

This article was adapted from a report, ‘Where Its Originals Strategy Is Paying Off For Netflix’, available to read here in full (with registration), by Andrzej Latka, chief of analytics at PlumResearch, Nicolás Eugenio, data analyst at PlumResearch and Tim Westcott, senior principal analyst, digital content & channels, Omdia.

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