Netflix has become one of the main destinations for fans of Korean content, who appreciate the diverse storytelling that they have to offer. From 2016 to 2021, Netflix has launched over 130 Korean titles and they plan to release even more in 2022. The company will be releasing the largest number of Korean shows to date, with more than 25 Korean shows set to launch.
Compared to 2019, global viewing hours of Netflix’s Korean shows grew six-fold in 2021. When the hit Netflix original series, “Squid Game” became the most-watched series in Netflix history with 111 million views in 28 days back in October, 2021, the company knew then that they had a golden formula for Korean dramas. Then came the success of “Hellbound” which was released in November and clocked 43.48 million viewing hours during the time of the premiere.
So what is this K-Drama formula? Half of the method revolves around providing alternative stories that contradicts what you think of when you think Korean drama. “Squid Game” follows the template of a Netflix original, with social commentary, gore, and diversity, which of course found unprecedented success with its subscribers. However, being that Netflix is a major media conglomerate after all, it still has to produce the reliable hits that people know and love. Also known as “mainstream” content.
Mainstream content is the second half of Netflix’s formula. The Korean TV landscape is saturated with K-drama/comedy blockbusters that have big names, likeable characters, and the typical conflict and classic romance. Netflix conforms with such titles like “Crash Landing on You,” “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha,” “The King: Eternal Monarch,” “Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung,” and so forth. These inked deals with major networks is Netflix’s clever way to compensate for content that is traditional and commercially viable.
With its growing slate, Netflix has a steady stream of hits that balance traditional hits and experimental titles.
Korean Slate for 2022
- All of Us Are Dead (January 28)
- Twenty Five, Twenty One (February 12th)
- Forecasting Love and Weather (February 12th)
- Thirty Nine (February 16th)
- A Business Proposal
- The Sound of Magic
- Juvenile Justice
- Remarriage and Desires
- A Model Family
- The Accidental Narco
- The Fabulous
- Love to Hate You
- Money Heist: Korea - Joint Economic Area
- Black Knight
- Celeb Five: Behind the Curtain (unscripted show)
- Love and Leashes (February 11)
- Yaksha: Ruthless Operations
- Seoul Vibe
- 20th Century Girl
Streaming Wars Across the Globe
In the international market, Netflix competes mainly with streaming titans Amazon Prime Video and Disney+. When comparing all three, Netflix’s foreign library expanded from 25% in 2019 to 31% in 2021. Amazon’s foreign content catalog spiked from 19% in 2019 to 25% in 2021. Meanwhile, Disney+ has plans to commission 50 shows in Europe by 2024.
In April of 2021, Netflix and Amazon committed to financing around 16 Japanese anime projects, putting up almost $500 million alone on South Korean productions. As companies grow their original slates, experts from Ampere Analysis believe content spend will only continue on this upward trajectory, most likely reaching about $240 billion.
In 2022, international content will be key for companies to succeed in the global streaming war.