The global streaming giant Netflix has publicly committed to spending $2.5 billion (approximately KRW3.34 trillion) on South Korean film and television production over the next four years. The total is double what you have spent on Korea since 2016, the company said.
The promise was made by Ted Sarandos, co-CEO of Netflix, in a meeting in Washington with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.
“We were able to make this decision because we have great confidence that the Korean creative industry will continue to tell great stories. We were also inspired by the President’s love and strong support for the Korean entertainment industry and driving the Korean Wave. I would like to personally thank the president for the kind response letter from him,” Sarandos said in a statement.
“It’s amazing that the love for Korean shows has led to more interest in Korea, thanks to the compelling stories from Korean creators. Their stories are now at the heart of the global cultural spirit,” he continued.
A slate of Korean content has anchored Netflix’s position as the dominant streamer within the rich and competitive Korean market. And at the same time, Korean shows are increasingly traveling across borders, fueling a «Korean Wave» of enthusiastic audiences beyond the established markets for Korean entertainment in East Asia.
Netflix’s new spending commitment comes at a time when other global players, notably Disney+ and Apple TV+, are also trying to up their game with expanded slates of Korean shows.
Korea-based streaming operators, notably Tving (backed by CJ ENM, tech giant Naver and broadcast producer JTBC) and Wavve (jointly owned by the country’s three major public broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS, and private sector giant SK Telecom) are also looking for a bigger part of the Korean Wave for themselves. at home and abroad.
In response to the growing demand for content, Korean production companies have also expanded their operations. CJ ENM launched a third production subsidiary, while JTBC Studios relaunched a year ago as Studio Lululala as part of a global expansion of Korean content.
At the height of the content career two years ago Netflix previously committed to spending close to $500 million on Korean production in 2021.
analytics company, Media Partners Asia Forecast that Netflix would spend about $700 million on Korean content in 2022, but the streamer did not confirm the figure.
Sources close to Netflix later explained that the 2021 investment promises were made due to a specific constellation of political circumstances and were unlikely to be repeated.
Around that time, a change in local regulations, Netflix was forced to disclose its Korean profit and loss figures. Simultaneously, a Korean Internet giant was challenging Netflix to pay fees for transportation on its networks, and the company came under fire from an influential committee within the Korean National Assembly.
In a longer Korean language version of the new production spending commitment, seen by Variety, Netflix makes several arguments for being seen as a good corporate citizen and a driving force within the Korean entertainment community.
“The world’s interest has expanded not only to Korean content, but also to the Korean creators who produce it. Netflix’s investment goes beyond producing great works to create a ‘virtuous circle’ that grows with Korean companies involved in content production, including special effects (VFX), special makeup (SFX), post-production, production financing and production online”, reads the translated version of the longer statement.
He claims to have boosted the dubbing and subtitling industries in Korea, naming local firms such as Dexter Studios, which runs digital intermediaries, and VFX firm Westworld, which have expanded thanks to Netflix’s workflow.
The longer statement cited a 2021 report by accounting and consulting firm Deloitte that attributed an economic ripple effect of KRW 5.6 trillion and 16,000 jobs created by the expanding Korean content industries, and another KRW 2, 7 billion profit for other Korean industries like food, beauty, fashion and tourism.
He cited a recent survey conducted by a Korean business federation «Public Perceptions of the Spread of the Korean Wave,» which found that the global presence and influence of the Korean Wave have increased more than 40-fold from 2023 compared to the beginning of the 2000s.
Variety and Variety contributed.