Netflix is at it again. After a terrible year in 2022, the streaming giant has regained confidence and is eyeing new investments in successful markets. Its last move involved £2bn to go to South Korea.
After the success of the South Korean series Squid Game, which topped global charts as the most-watched Netflix series ever in 2021, Netflix is looking for the next television miracle to come out of Asia.
The money will be spent over the course of the next four years. Netflix has been investing in South Korea since 2016, but the new £2bn is double the amount previously spent in the country.
South Korean movies and series have become internationally recognised and celebrated in the last few years. They’ve grown a global audience, especially after Parasite won Best Picture at the Oscars in 2020. So Netflix’s investment looks all the more like an intelligent move to grow its global subscriber base.
Netflix has a history of watching closely what’s doing well on its platform, and of investing money and resources accordingly. Two years ago, it doubled the size of its Shepperton Studios in the UK, after British success stories like The Crown and Sex Education made it earn quite a bit of good money.
And if you look at what’s currently doing well on Netflix, it all makes sense. The first most-watched series last week was The Night Agent, a very American FBI drama, but in the second position was Beef, a dark comedy created by Korean director Lee Sung Jin specifically for Netflix.
When it comes to movies, the Brits are still doing well, with an English production, The Last Kingdom: Seven Kings Must Die, firmly in pole position.
Last year was very difficult for Netflix – and for the streaming industry more broadly. Its slump started in January and continued throughout the year. In April, the streaming giant’s value dropped 35 per cent after it admitted it had lost more than 200,000 subscribers from January to March. Gradually, things started going better for the company and in the fourth quarter it reported a number of subscribers that gave some confidence back to investors.
The South Korean investment might be a sign Netflix is back on its feet. Movie lovers would certainly be hoping so.