Netflix steps up original Asian content to hook international viewers

Netflix scored a hit in India with Mumbai-based crime thriller Sacred Games. (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2018
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Netflix steps up original Asian content to hook international viewers

  • ‘More than half of Asian content hours viewed on Netflix this year are viewed outside the region’
  • The new titles build on Netflix’s recent forays into Asian productions

SINGAPORE: Netflix unveiled a plan on Thursday to make 17 more original productions in Asia including Thai and Chinese language shows, as the US firm seeks to attract new international users through more local content.
The plan, which includes nine productions in India and five anime series, should help ease concern that the video streaming pioneer is running out of space to expand in developed markets.
Netflix reported bumper quarterly earnings last month as it exceeded forecasts in both the US and international markets, with the bulk of new subscribers coming from outside the United States where the company has been investing aggressively.
“More than half of Asian content hours viewed on Netflix this year are viewed outside the region,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, said when unveiling the plan at the firm’s content showcase event in Singapore.
“So, we have confidence that our upcoming slate of Asian productions will find fans in their home countries and abroad.”
Netflix has earmarked $8 billion for content this year, and had spent $6.9 billion as at the end of its third quarter.
On Thursday, the company said the new productions will include anime series such as Trese, based on a Philippine graphic novel of the same name, and Pacific Rim, an adventure story about two siblings searching for their missing parents.
Netflix will make two Thai language originals including Shimmers, a drama series about five teenagers at an isolated school in northern Thailand. It will also broadcast Triad Princess, a Chinese-language original from Taiwan in which the protagonist seeks independence in defiance of her Triad father.
The new titles build on Netflix’s recent forays into Asian productions, including India’s Sacred Games, Japanese anime series DEVILMAN crybaby, and variety comedy BUSTED! in South Korea.
In Asia, led by India, Netflix has won fans among a young, tech-savvy middle class. Chief Executive Reed Hastings has said India could deliver the service’s next 100 million subscribers.
The company will announce details of nine projects from the country on Friday.
Netflix scored a hit in India with Mumbai-based crime thriller Sacred Games. However, the Bollywood studio that produced the show disbanded last month after sexual harassment allegations against one of its partners, Vikas Bahl, and the show’s lead writer, Varun Grover. Both men have denied the allegations.
Netflix later backed the series for a second season.
The firm had 137 million subscribers to its movie and TV streaming service worldwide as of September-end. It began releasing original English-language programming nearly six years ago and has since expanded into other languages.


Vietnamese blogger who vanished in Thailand jailed in Hanoi

Updated 21 March 2019
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Vietnamese blogger who vanished in Thailand jailed in Hanoi

  • Truong Duy Nhat fled to Thailand in January and applied for refugee status with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
  • His employer and family lost contact with him soon after
HANOI: A Vietnamese blogger who vanished in Thailand earlier this year is being held in a Hanoi prison, his friend and wife confirmed Thursday.
Truong Duy Nhat wrote weekly posts about politics and current affairs for Radio Free Asia (RFA) and last posted about the prospects for change in Vietnam in light of major anti-government demonstrations in Venezuela.
All independent media is banned in Vietnam and bloggers, activists and rights lawyers are routinely jailed. The one-party state has seen an uptick of arrests under a hard-line leadership in charge since 2016, with nearly 60 put behind bars last year according to an AFP tally.
Nhat, 55, fled to Thailand in January and applied for refugee status with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, according to RFA.
His employer and family lost contact with him soon after and he has not been heard from since. The UN said does not comment on individual cases.
Nhat’s friend Pham Xuan Nguyen said he visited Hanoi’s T-16 jail on Wednesday and received confirmation Nhat was being held there.
“I took Nhat’s wife to the jail yesterday. I saw the book the jail gave to her to register future visits,” he said Thursday.
“Inside the book, the date of his arrest was written January, 28 2019 ... it said that he was transferred to the jail the same day,” he said, adding that they did not see Nhat.
The blogger’s wife Cao Thi Xuan Phuong confirmed the account to AFP, declining to comment further.
His daughter Truong Thuc Doan, who lives in Canada, said she believes he was taken from Thailand against his will.
“It’s clear that my father did not voluntarily go back to Vietnam,” she told RFA.
The circumstances of Nhat’s return have not been confirmed by Hanoi and he has not yet been formally charged.
This is Nhat’s second prison stint. He was jailed for two years in 2014 for “abusing democratic freedoms” after writing blogs critical of Vietnam’s communist leadership.
Hanoi has in the past forcibly returned corruption suspects, including a former state oil executive kidnapped by Vietnamese security agents from a Berlin park in 2017.
Last year a fugitive spy was sent back from Singapore to face trial for divulging state secrets.