Netflix’s early dominance in American markets made the company a top-performing stock in the S&P 500 stock market index during the 2010s, with investors seeing a total return of 3,693%.
Why did Netflix pivot toward a global market?
When it comes to competition at home, Netflix undoubtedly faces stiff competition with other well-backed streamers like Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime and more.
With this, the company started looking abroad at other markets to maintain its growth.
The company first started hinting at overseas market expansion plans when it announced that its streaming services would be available in 130 countries in 2016, excluding some markets, notably mainland China and North Korea.
With this overseas expansion, its original content and the pandemic, which led to many bored locked up people looking for more sources of entertainment, the company now boasts over 200 million subscribers worldwide.
As of 2021, the company has 74 million account holders in North America, 71 million in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), 39 million in Latin America and 30 million in the Asia Pacific.
How’s Netflix doing in other markets?
The company is getting aggressive in multiple international key markets, including India, Africa and Latin America.
In India, for example, the company reduced the price of its streaming services by 60% for the first time since it launched in the market five years ago. This comes after some of its US rivals entered the market and heated the competition.
In Africa, the company has offered free subscriptions in some countries and partnered with well-known actors, film producers and makers. And, by the end of 2021, the company had an estimated 2.6 million subscribers in the region.
Once the streamer acquires these users, they serve them hyperlocalized original and licensed content.
Speaking to CNBC, the vice president for business development in APAC at Netflix, Tony Zameczkowski, explained that localization included adding subtitles and dubbing in regional languages and making the app interface available in local languages.
What are Netflix’s domestic competitors up to?
When it comes to competition with other streaming platforms, Netflix mainly has two global competitors: Amazon Prime and The Walt Disney Company (Disney).
Amazon actually started its streaming service before Hulu and Netflix in 2006.
Still, both companies have maintained continued success as the number two and three ranked streaming services, and both companies aren’t purely dedicated to streaming services like Netflix.
Disney+, though, boasts the most impressive growth rate, with over 100 million subscribers in a quarter of the time it took its competitors.
Right now, though, Netflix maintains dominance with 214 million subscribers, while Disney is at 118.1 million subscribers and Amazon at around 175 million.
What’s being said about the company’s globalization?
Netflix has continued to appeal to many cultures when it comes to globalized television.
When speaking about the unexpected success of “Squid Game," a show that was entirely in Korean, Bela Bajaria, the global head of TV at Netflix, said that it was television’s time to see the success of globalization.
“We’ve seen it with books. We’ve seen it in K-pop and hip-hop. We’ve seen it in the film world, with Roma and Parasite. There has been a history of that in other categories. And now I think it really is television’s time,” says Bajaria.
Still, Netflix hasn’t always hit the mark when it comes to the representation of different cultures in media, with the Ukrainian culture minister, Oleksandr Tkachenko, reportedly expressing his distaste to CNN about how Ukrainians were represented in the most recent season of “Emily in Paris."
“Is this how Ukrainians are seen abroad? They steal, want to get everything for free, be afraid of deportation? That should not be the case,” says Tkachenko.
Netflix has made shows in over 40 countries, and 97% of its US subscribers watched at least one non-English title in the last year.
And, while some Hollywood Insiders say that the company is moving away from big talent deals, Bajaria explains that “To me, it’s just an expansion of the sort of storytelling and creativity and an opportunity for people to tell stories who haven’t gotten to tell stories on that global scale.”
Moving forward, the company is looking to double down investments on its international content and grow its gaming platform, Netflix Games.
“It doesn’t matter where you live or what languages you speak, this is about great storytelling. Netflix members around the world want authentic storytelling, they want a perspective from a passionate creator that’s grounded in the local culture," said Chief Product Officer Greg Peters back in 2018.
And with the success of “Squid Game” last year among even English language speakers, it seems as if the company’s bet has so far been successful.
But, a key thing to watch moving forward is how Netflix will perform and cooexist with theaters now that economies are reopening. This is especially after the success of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which became the first pandemic-era movie to reach the US$1 billion mark, becoming the top-grossing film of 2021.
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