Omdia: Netflix Original Content Accounts for Less Than 40% of Viewing in Key Markets

Original content has become of even greater strategic importance to Netflix as it builds its worldwide footprint and faces competition from the owners of the biggest content catalogs in the world (major studios) and deeply entrenched local players in the U.K. and Nordics, among other regions.

New Omdia data from PlumResearch finds that the importance of original content varies by market. Netflix ended its most recent fiscal period with more than 232 million subscribers across more than 190 countries.

In the U.S., 35.6% of total hours watched in the first three months of 2023 were Netflix originals. The SVOD pioneer’s home country was its biggest market, with a total of 14.8 billion hours streamed in the first quarter, ended March 31. Originals also accounted for the largest share of total hours streamed  in Poland — just under 40%, and Spain at more than 35%. At the other end of the scale were Japan (20.6%) and South Korea (25.4%).

At the same time, original Korean content has become a goldmine for Netflix worldwide following the success of “Squid Game” and other locally-produced programs. The streamer recently announced plans to invest more than $2.5 billion in original Korean content to be distributed globally.

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Although these percentages appear to be low, considering the massive investments Netflix has made in original content, Omdia estimates that last year the vast majority of Netflix originals were produced in the United States — 403 titles out of a total 935 titles launched in 2022.

The analysis of viewing of local originals (i.e., content produced in the country in question) offers a noticeably different perspective of the streamer’s success with local production. Out of all original hours watched in South Korea, local titles accounted for nearly 68%. The U.S. also had a high percentage of 61.4%, and both countries were very far ahead of the next placed country, Japan. Viewing of German originals in Germany was just 2.7%.

“Given its increasing emphasis on originals and heavy investment, the share of viewing actually going to these titles seems surprisingly low,” Tim Westcott, senior principal at Omdia, said in a statement.

Westcott suggests the reasons for this could include the continuing strong performance of certain non-original content, especially theatrical movies, but also some TV series that have been acquired by Netflix.

For example, the “Harry Potter” movies and TV series like “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Rick and Morty” feature among the top titles in other countries such as Italy and Germany.

“Another reason [for lower interest in original content in some markets] is the depth of catalog: Netflix has been originating since 2012, but still does not have the volume of Walt Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery or Paramount Pictures,” Westcott said.

Indeed, while Disney and Warner Bros. Pictures celebrate centennials this year, Paramount turned 100 in 2012.

Netflix Announces 2023 Original Korean Content Slate

Korean content has been good to Netflix. More than 60% of Netflix’s global 223 million subscribers watched Korean content in 2022, and the streamer’s original 2021 dystopian series “Squid Game,” in which contestants face life-or-death decisions, remains Netflix’s most-viewed content ever.

Netflix Jan. 16 announced 34 upcoming Korean titles with a common theme of “survival,” whether it’s battling monsters during the dark days of 1945 in “Gyeongseong Creature,” struggling to breathe in the dystopian future of sci-fi series “Black Knight,” or fighting to protect Joseon during Japanese colonial rule in the action drama “Song of the Bandits.”

Other returning shows include “Sweet Home,” “D.P.,” and “The Glory.” Part two of the latter revenge drama will be released in March, with part one being the most-watched, non-English TV show during the week of Jan. 2, with 82.5 million viewing hours. “Sweet Home,” which set new viewership benchmarks for the creature genre in Korea, will return with an expanded world and story, while “D.P.” brings back the cast from the first season to continue chasing after deserters.

“Over the last year, Korean series and films have regularly featured in our Global Top 10 list in more than 90 countries, and three of Netflix’s most-watched shows ever are from Korea,” Don Kang, VP of Content Korea, said in a statement. “This year, we’re pushing the envelope even further with the stories we tell and how we tell them.”

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Other new series this year include “A Time Called You,” “Behind Your Touch” (WT), “Crash Course in Romance,” “Destined With You,” “Doona!,” “King the Land,” “Love to Hate You,” “See You In My 19th Life,” “Bloodhounds,” “Celebrity,” “Mask Girl,”Daily Dose of Sunshine,” “Queenmaker,” “The Good Bad Mother” and apocalyptic “Goodbye Earth.”

Report: SVOD Scripted Original Content Is Often Not Original

Streaming video services frequently tout new programming to subscribers as original content when in fact the shows are often based on pre-existing intellectual property, according to a new report.

New data from Ampere Analysis found that “original” content based on adaptations, franchises and other forms of pre-existing intellectual property (IP) accounted for 64% of top SVOD services’ slate of new scripted programming in the United States in the first half of 2022.

When including unscripted reality-based content, 42% of new movies and first-run originals was based on pre-existing IP, while 28% of international content was based on pre-existing programming. Ampere said North American SVOD services have increased their share of IP-based commissions by seven percentage points over the past two years.

The report found that 53% Apple TV+ original programming through the first half of 2022 was based on pre-existing IP — tops among seven platforms that include Paramount+, Disney+, HBO Max, Discovery+, Prime Video and Netflix.

IP-based commissioning is generally the highest for studio-backed platforms such as Paramount+ and Disney+ as they turn to internal — and primarily U.S.-based — IP and movie franchises for their new original content. But this share is slowly decreasing as they gradually increase their international footprint. For Disney+, IP-based titles represented 35% of its global new originals in the first half of 2022, down from more than 60% in 2020.

Meanwhile, Netflix and Prime Video have the lowest share of IP-based projects. While leading by originals spend level and output, Netflix has the lowest share of IP-based titles at 32%, a share that is steadily on the rise in the U.S. market. The streaming giant is primarily drawing on book adaptations as the IP base, but also increasingly in a position to tap into some of its own titles and franchises (i.e., “Stranger Things”) to develop new content.

That said, one of Netflix’s most-popular programs is “Manifest,” the former NBC drama canceled in 2021 after three seasons. Netflix licensed the series about a time-traveling commercial airline flight and then commissioned an original fourth and final season.

Discovery+ has the lowest rate of IP-based titles (19%) due to its primarily reality TV-based slate. Overall, the share of IP-based titles is lower for unscripted content than scripted, although an increasing percentage of reality programming is drawing on pre-existing formats for remakes, spin-offs or reboots.

“[The] investment in original content has grown from a quarter of [SVOD’s] total content spend in 2019 to over half this year,” Cyrine Amor, analyst at Ampere Analysis, said in a statement. “Drawing on pre-existing IP capitalizes on established and successful content and is more likely to attract subscriber attention and positive reception than new brand content.”

Almost Half of Studios’ First-Run Shows in 2021 Were SVOD Releases

Original content is getting pushed toward SVOD. That’s according to Ampere Analysis, which says the five largest U.S. content distributors have increased the proportion of their original shows premiering online.

Disney and WarnerMedia led the way with a strategic shift several years ago, while Comcast and Discovery were later to the game, catching up in 2021, according to Ampere.

Discovery, in particular, has rapidly switched strategy, moving from having a minimal focus on VOD originals in 2019 to placing the greatest emphasis on streaming originals. In 2021, nearly half (48%) of its first-run commissions were for VOD platforms, primarily Discovery+.

Having entered the SVOD market early with CBS All Access, Paramount now lags its studio rivals with only one third of commissions going to VOD. Time and resources over the last two years has largely been spent readjusting content priorities among its cable assets post the 2019 Viacom-CBS merger, according to Ampere.

“Original content is crucial to the success of any SVOD service,” Fred Black, research manager at Ampere Analysis, said in a statement. “And alongside increasing the volume of streaming originals, the studios are using a strategy centered on adapting existing IP, spin-offs, and reboots in their efforts to migrate loyal cable and movie audiences to the new ecosystem. Franchise character spin-offs have proved enormously successful for Disney+, with titles such as ‘The Mandalorian’ and Marvel series like ‘Loki’ and ‘Wandavision’ boosting the service’s early audience growth.

“The other studios have taken note; spin-offs from Food Network cooking competition ‘Chopped’ and TLC stalwart ’90 Day Fiancé’ are increasingly housed on Discovery+, and while Paramount Network’s blockbuster hit ‘Yellowstone’ is currently streaming on Peacock due to a preceding deal, the after-show reaction series and dramatic spin-offs will be found on Paramount+.

“Reboots are another way to capture audiences from elsewhere and head up HBO Max’s slate with series like ‘And Just Like That …’ and ‘Pretty Little Liars.’ Don’t forget the power of kids content in the streaming game too; Peacock is betting heavily on Dreamworks Animation’s library of IP for new animated series.

“All of this poses a problem for incumbents like Netflix and Amazon, which find themselves needing to build out franchises at an accelerated rate to compete, through a combination of buying up existing IP like ‘Lord of the Rings,’ the Roald Dahl books, or ‘The Witcher,’ as well as leveraging existing hits like Amazon’s ‘The Boys’ or Netflix’s ‘Selling Sunset’ to the maximum extent through multiple spin-off series to keep pace.”

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Ted Sarandos: Netflix Management Wasn’t Sold on ‘Squid Game’ in the Beginning

With South Korean original horror series “Squid Game” setting viewership records for Netflix, it would be easy for co-CEOs Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos to take credit for a show 142 million Netflix households streamed in the first 28 days following its Sept. 17 debut.

Speaking on the company’s Oct. 19 webcast, Sarandos gave credit to the streamer’s South Korean team that recognized the show’s potential when acquiring the rights two years ago. It was not a sentiment equally shared stateside.

“I can’t say that we had the same eyeball on it that it was going to be the biggest title in our history around the world,” Sarandos said.

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The executive said that the show tracked like a local-language show that mushroomed globally. At the same time, he said predicting the success of a program is unrealistic.

“In 10 years trying to sell [‘Squid Game’], our team recognized something nobody else did. And created an environment for that creator to make a great show,” Sarandos said. “How something can go viral is really hard to predict, but it’s super powerful when it happens.”

The co-CEO said “Squid Game” has been able to “deliver the goods” to be able and attract monster viewership, and have people talk about it in shorthand.

“Sometimes you think you have lightning in a bottle and you’re wrong,” Sarandos said. “And then you have a really great Korean show that happens to be lightning in a bottle for the rest of the world.”

The CFO was quick to point out that Netflix has had similar successes, just not on the same scale as “Squid Game.” Shows such Spain’s “Money Heist,” France’s “Lupin,” Germany’s “Blood Red Sky” and the U.K.’s “Sex Education,” among others.

Sarandos said Netflix’s content team continually focus on the reality that stories of the world increasingly come from all over the world — not just Hollywood. He said non-English-language content viewing has grown three times since Netflix began making original programming in 2008.

“The thing [our content teams are] mostly focused on are a bunch of shows you’ve never heard of, but are hugely impactful in [different] territories, like Denmark, Italy and India,” Sarandos said. “These are all shows that are meant to be hugely impactful and loved in territory, and if they really catch on, they travel a lot.”

Tubi Announces Original Movie ‘Corrective Measures’ With Bruce Willis

As part of its original content rollout strategy, Tubi Sept. 8 announced the future original movie release Corrective Measures, a sci-fi action movie starring Bruce Willis and Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Suicide Squad, “The Walking Dead”) is set for release on the ad-supported VOD platform in spring 2022.

Based on a graphic novel, Corrective Measures is written, directed and produced by Sean Patrick O’Reilly (Howard Lovecraft, The Kingdom of Madness) and is set in San Tiburon, the world’s most dangerous maximum-security penitentiary and home to the world’s most treacherous superpowered criminals.

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Todd Masters of MastersFX (Predator, Child’s Play, Legion) will head the character and creature design. Produced by Arcana Productions and executive-produced by The Exchange. Jas Boparai, Corey Large, Johnny Messner and Steven Eads serve as executive producers. Michelle O’Reilly serves as producer.

“We’re excited to be harnessing the creative talent of Sean Patrick O’Reilly, Bruce Willis, Michael Rooker and Todd Masters to bring this celebrated comic book series to life,” Adam Lewinson, chief content officer at Tubi, said in a statement.

The Ubermax prison, hidden in the Great Northwest, houses monsters, cyborgs, and supervillains, all equipped with 24-hour power inhibitors and shock-collars. Most notorious among them is Julius “The Lobe” Loeb (Willis), a super genius sitting on an untraceable fortune. Warden Devlin (Rooker) is arguably as corrupt as his charges, with his sole interest in The Lobe’s riches, and has been trying to crack The Lobe for years without success.

The fragile peace of the prison is thrown into chaos with the arrival of Payback (Dan Payne, “Watchmen”), a murderous vigilante with red intentions on the entire prison community, and Diego Diaz (Brennan Mejia, “Power Rangers”), a driver on a trumped-up sentence. As tensions among the inmates and staff heighten, anarchy engulfs the prison and order is turned upside down.

Nat McCormick of The Exchange negotiated the deal and will be selling the movie at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Over the coming year, more than 140 hours of all-new content are set to debut on Tubi, including original documentaries from Fox Alternative Entertainment; animated titles from Fox Entertainment’s Emmy Award-winning animation studio, Bento Box Entertainment; and premium independent-minded titles across the black cinema, thriller, horror, sci-fi, romance and Western genres.

Netflix Announces Expanded Korean Content Slate

Netflix March 23 announced a new slate of Korean shows — from reality to crime and sci-fi to romance and dramas, among others. The SVOD pioneer, which has long embraced South Korean content, next month (April 10) will bow the first Korean language original movie, Time to Hunt, since the 2017 release of Okja.

“From K-pop and K-food, to K-zombie and K-content, we’ve seen how much people in different parts of the world love Korean cultures and stories,” Minyoung Kim, VPt of Korean content at Netflix, said in a statement. “By making it easy for people to watch films and shows from other countries, we can help them build empathy and develop a shared understanding of the world”.

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Last year, Netflix’s “Crash Landing on You,” a romance about a couple from the two Koreas (North and South) showed the popularity of K-content making the top 10 list in the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand.

Earlier this month Netflix began streaming the second season of “Kingdom.” The K-zombie series has again become one of the Top 10 titles in almost every Asian country, according to Netflix.

New Content includes police drama “Rugal,” premiering March 28 in Korea/APAC/all English speaking countries/Latin America; and on May 24 in Japan and the rest of the world. Main cast members include Choi Jin-hyuk and Park Sung-woong.

“Extracurricular,” about a group of high school students who have chosen a life of crime,” streams on April 29, starring Kim Dong-hee, Jung Da-bin, Park Joo-hyun.

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“The King: Eternal Monarch” is a romantic fantasy drama that revolves around relationships of the people from two parallel universes. Cast includes Lee Min-ho, Kim Go-eun, Woo Do-hwan, Kim Kyung-nam, Jung Eun-chae.

“It’s Okay to Not Be Okay” is about an unusual romance between two people who end up healing each other’s emotional and psychological wounds. The show premiers in June starring Kim Soo-hyun and Seo Ye-ji, among others.

Netflix series in suspended production include: “Twogether,” featuring two top celebrities from Seoul and Taipei who go on a trip to several cities in Asia to meet their fans and become friends. Cast: Lee Seung-gi, Jasper Liu.

In “The School Nurse Files,” a newly appointed high school nurse discovers secrets and mysteries with her supernatural abilities of chasing ghosts. Cast: Jung Yu-mi, Nam Joo-hyuk.

“Sweet Home,” about a reclusive high school student, moves into an old apartment complex after the tragic death of his entire family. He soon realizes complex residents, including himself, are trapped and surrounded by monsters in various forms of distorted human desires, which are about to sweep away mankind. Cast include Song Kang, Lee Jin-wook, Lee Si-young.

Currently streaming: “Itaewon Class,” about a group of youths, held together by their mutual stubbornness and bravado, start a “cool” revolt against an irrational world.

“Hyena,” about a jaded female lawyer willing to use every last sexy trick in the book to make money, no matter how evil the means can be. Other titles include, “Hi Bye, Mama!,” “Hospital Playlist,” “Kingdom S2” and “My Holo Love.”

 

Ampere: Netflix Expediting Comedy, Concert Releases

Seeking to get a jump on competitors in select genres, nearly 20% of Netflix original stand-up comedies and music concerts are released on the streaming service within two months of production, according to new data from Ampere Analysis.

This release strategy contrasts sharply with slow-burn release strategy for scripted dramas, which have an average production period of 13 months from announcement to release.

The report found that 39% of Netflix docs and 64% of reality series were released less than two months after they were first announced.

Children and family content had the longest production period, whether created by Netflix and a single producer, or as a co-production.

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Crime, thriller, sci-fi and fantasy productions each took a year to produce, with 25% of crime content released from 13-15 months after announcement.

“Netflix co-productions have a longer average creation time, taking an additional 2.8 months to craft compared to sole Netflix commissioned shows,” Fred Black, analyst and author of the report, said in a statement. “The shortest co-production was announced 109 days before release — by this point, 39 solo Netflix productions had already been released. Drama, documentary, sci-fi and fantasy are the most co-produced genres.”

Ampere found 36% of unscripted Netflix originals were released less than two months after announcement – versus just 7% of scripted titles.

By comparison, over 90% of productions taking 14+ months to release are scripted. Over half of Netflix scripted originals (52%) have taken longer than a year between announcement and release, compared to just 7% of unscripted titles.

Almost all (95%) of the slowest 19 releases were scripted (release after at least 600 days).

At more than two years in production, “Our Planet,” Netflix’s high-budget, David Attenborough-narrated natural history documentary, stands out as an anomaly in the unscripted space. “Magic for Humans” also had a long production period. Italian stand-up special from Edoardo de Carlo took two weeks, while Ellen Degeneres’ special, “Relatable,” was in production for 19 months.

“With competition heating up in the SVOD arena, Netflix is using its ‘surprise drop’ strategy to foil competitors and delay them from copy-catting new content formats,” Black said. “But this is not a simple approach, there are huge variations in the time content takes from announcement to release, based on genre, whether it’s scripted or not and if it’s a sole or co-production.”

Netflix Tops Q3 Sub Growth Forecast with Nearly 7 Million Additions

Netflix Oct. 16 returned to business as usual, reporting record third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) global subscriber growth of nearly 7 million, including 1 million in the United States – beating company projections. The service ended the period with 137 million subs, including 130 million paid.

The SVOD pioneer generated nearly $4 billion in revenue, up 34% from the previous-year period of nearly $3 billion. Net income tripled to $403 million from $130 million last year.

“Our broad slate of original programming helped drive a solid quarter of growth,” CEO Reed Hastings wrote in the shareholder letter. “We’re thrilled to be growing Internet entertainment across the globe.”

On the flip side, free cash flow ballooned 85% to $859 million from $465 million as Netflix continues to spend large on original content. Third-party streaming content obligations reached $18.6 billion compared to $17 billion last year.

Free cash flow is the cash a company produces through its operations, less the cost of expenditures on assets. In other words, FCF is the cash left over after a company pays for its operating expenses and capital expenditures.

“We recognize we are making huge cash investments in content, and we want to assure our investors that we have the same high confidence in the underlying economics as our cash investments in the past,” CEO Reed Hastings wrote in the shareholder letter. “These investments we see as very likely to help us to keep our revenue and operating profits growing for a very long time ahead.”

Indeed, Netflix believes negative free cash flow will be closer to $3 billion than $4 billion for the full year 2018 as the FCF deficit year to date is negative $1.7 billion.

Finally, Netflix ended the period with more than 2.8 million by-mail disc subscribers, compared with 3.5 million last year. The packaged media unit generated $51.6 million operating profit on revenue of $88.7 million. That compared to operating income of $63.1 million and revenue of $110.2 million last year.

Snap Bows Original Programming

Social media app Snap Oct. 10 announced the launch of Snap Originals and the debut of serialized programming, including its first formal slate of scripted shows and docuseries from Bunim/Murray Productions, the Duplass Brothers and Brad Weston’s Makeready, as well as established film and television writers.

Snap also announced NBC Universal extended its content production commitments through 2019, and Viacom has committed to creating 10 new Snap Originals. Viacom also committed to syndicating at least 500 episodes of its network’s shows to the platform.

Snap Originals will be available on the app’s Discover page to Snapchat users globally. It is also introducing new product features that will make it easier for viewers to find, watch and interact with programming.

Every Show will have a dedicated profile page where users can find all available episodes and seasons to watch at once. Each ad-supported episode averages five minutes. Snap recently launched a six-second, non-skippable ad format.

The app has also created portals for several of its shows, enabling users to swipe up from an episode and literally walk into a scene and interact with the objects and characters. It has also developed custom interactive lenses that will enable users to share the show experience with their friends.

Since the beginning of the year, Snap said it has nearly tripled the time viewers spend engaging with its video programs.

“Over the last two years, our highly engaged and loyal audience has helped to define what mobile content should look like,” Nick Bell, VP of content at Snap, said in a statement.

The initial launch slate includes:

  • “Endless Summer”- (Bunim/Murray Productions) – Influencers Summer McKeen and Dylan Jordan try to balance love, friends, family, and fame in this intimate snapshot of their lives in Laguna Beach, California. Docuseries launches )ct. 10.
  • “Class of Lies”- (Makeready) – Best friends slash college roommates Devon and Missy crack cold cases on their successful true-crime podcast…but can they solve the most important case of all when their best friend disappears without a trace? Scripted series launches Oct. 10.
  • “Co-ed” (Duplass Brothers’ DBP Donut, Indigo Development and Entertainment Arts) – Juggling classes, parties, and down-the-hall crushes, freshman roommates Ginny and Chris try their best to face whatever college throws at them, discovering who they are along the way. Scripted series launches Oct. 10.
  • “Vivian” (NBCU Digital Lab, The Intellectual Property Corporation in association with Wilhelmina) – Vivian is the youngest model scout at Wilhelmina, one of the most prestigious modeling agencies in the world. She takes us inside this exclusive world where she has the power to make wannabes’ dreams come true — but can she do that for her own? Docuseries launches Oct. 22.
  • “The Dead Girls Detective Agency”- (Indigo Development and Entertainment Arts, Insurrection and Keshet) – This darkly comedic supernatural soap follows Charlotte Feldman, a young woman who must work from beyond to figure out how and why she died, in order to avoid an eternity in purgatory. Based on the young adult novel by Susie Cox. Scripted series launches Oct. 22.
  • “V/H/S”- (Indigo Development and Entertainment Arts and Studio 71) – The next generation of the horror anthology series, bringing four new frightening experiences to the palm of your hand. Scripted series launches Oct. 28.

Six additional series have already been greenlit for production.