The myth of the global streaming hit

The myth of the global streaming hit

THE ANOMALY The Octopus game the effect has not yet been established. (Netflix)


Of the following three IMDb descriptionswhich sounds worst:

  1. Walter moves from the city to the countryside after a nervous breakdown. But his dream of a peaceful life is destroyed when he meets his loud neighbors.

  2. A police detective tries to get back both his lover and his sense of smell, and is helped by a perfumer who uses deadly methods to find the perfect perfume.

  3. A romantic film about two people who are not right for each other. The story revolves around Prajakta’s character who is a technical wizard and the guy who is interested in her.

Well, the latter is just difficult. The second one might be the worst thing I’ve ever read. But the winner is option one, and it comes with this poster:

Don’t worry: the trailer somehow looks worse. (The other two titles are The perfumery and Not matchingrespectively.)

What do these three films have in common? They all premiered on Netflix as Netflix Originals in recent months (from Brazil, Germany and India respectively). As I have written on my website and here to The Ankleswhile we all spent 2021 praising Octopus game to show that foreign titles can break through in America (which fits well with a globalist narrative), we’ve mostly used 2022 not followed up, asking if foreign titles still do well in America (and other countries). Since I track down almost every new TV show or movie that Netflix puts out for writing my weekly streaming ranking reportI see how many titles from other countries fail to perform in America.

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This is not an academic exercise about taste; it gets to one of the core theses of the Streaming Wars. One of the advantages of Netflix is ​​supposedly that it can buy/produce a title in one territory/country and turn it into a “global hit”. (Netflix is ​​currently in 190 markets and produces local content that it seeds for other territories). Call it “Octopus game advantage” if you will. It is a core pillar of the business model.

The idea that Netflix could “scale” globally – and thus justify an incredibly high valuation – was based on the idea that they can make a show in one territory and sell it globally. Reed Hastings has previously said that his goal is to create one distribution platform to create global hits. Other streamers are copying this strategy. (This is a separate call from overseas growth, where Netflix reported adding 2.3 million subscribers globally in Q3 revenue. One could argue that while these titles don’t resonate globally, they is attract local audiences.)

Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu and Disney+ drops big on soap operas from South Korea, anime from Japan, action movies from India, thrillers from Germany, and so on. And while that money is cheaper than many American-made movies and series, budgets around the world have increased considerably with this influx of buyers.

My premise for today is to show you how very poorly, according to data, this strategy works. I single out Netflix as an example today since it is the global leader that set the dynamics of today’s market in motion.

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In this article I will cover:

  • The absolute lack of global hits since Octopus game.

  • The bad reviews from customers of the vast majority of Netflix’s foreign-language films

  • The slightly better performance of foreign television

  • And why global “scale” in streaming could bleed lots of money


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