Netflix gained 9.3 million subscribers in the Asia Pacific in 2020, 65% more than in 2019. Revenue increased 62% compared to 40% in other regions like Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Netflix planned to double its budget for original content in the area, hoping to gain more new customers in India, South Korea, and Japan.
The company launched in Japan about six years ago, with no office space or local workers. Now the company has about 600 staff and a regional headquarters in Singapore. Netflix spent about $2 billion from 2018 to 2020 to license and produce content in Asia. Now it has more than 200 original Asian titles.
Netflix found that it works best when it takes hit shows from the West and markets or adapts them to other audiences. For example, it released a particular season of “Queer Eye, Japan,” where the group performed makeovers in Japan. The company also announced a South Korean version of “Money Heist,” a Spanish crime drama. However, the Asian audience doesn’t just want to watch adaptations of Western shows. In 2016, the first Asia-based content executive, Minyoung Kim, said the company “knew that local content was going to be a really important factor for growing our business in Asia.”
Netflix realized that Asian shows also have worldwide appeal. For example, Japan’s “Alice in Borderland,” South Korea’s “Kingdom” or “Squid Games,” and “Indian Matchmaking” have had massive success around the world. K-dramas and Japanese anime have also been driving Netflix’s growth in Asia. In 2020, K-dramas dominated the top 10 lists in Southeast Asia, and regional viewership for Korean content quadrupled compared to 2019. Regional viewership of Japanese anime also doubled in 2020 compared to 2019.
Gaining more customers in Asia also meant that Netflix needed to expand the number of languages on its platform. The platform is available in 35 languages, including Hindi, Chinese, Malay, and Vietnamese, and is planning to add more languages, including subtitling and dubbing options.
Netflix also launched a cheaper mobile-only plan for Asian audiences who watch a lot of TV on their phones. It started in India and then expanded to other countries, including Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand. The company also developed a technology that allows consumers to toggle video playback speed. The idea started to help those learning a foreign language, and now the ability is available worldwide.
The company increased its brand recognition in the Asia Pacific by producing more local content and adapting popular Western content. Netflix also adapts to the Asian market by creating a cheaper mobile version and a toggle video playback speed. The larger audience in Asia requires Netflix to expand the number of languages available; however, it also increases consumer brand loyalty by providing content in different languages for consumers everywhere.