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

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.


REVIEW: Second season of Sacred Games mirrors the ills of today's India

Updated 4 min 35 sec ago

REVIEW: Second season of Sacred Games mirrors the ills of today's India

CHENNAI: The first season of “Sacred Games” last year was a hit, and the second edition, which began streaming on Netflix on Aug. 15, may be even more so.

The eight episodes explore some of India's most pressing current issues such as a nuclear threat, terrorism and inter-religious animosity dating back to the country's 1947 partition. It. It also addresses how religious men can indulge in the most unholy of acts, including helping corrupt politicians.

Some of the greatest films have had conflict and war as their backdrop: “Gone with the Wind,” “Casablanca,” “Ben-Hur” and “Garam Hawa,” to mention a few. The second season of “Sacred Games” also unfolds in such a scenario, with terrorism and inter-communal disharmony having a rippling effect on the nation.

Directed by Anurag Kashyap (“Gangs of Wasseypur,” “Black Friday”) and Neeraj Ghaywan (“Masaan,” which premiered at Cannes in 2015), the web series, based on Vikram Chandra's 2006 novel, unfolds with Ganesh Gaitonde (played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui) escaping from prison and finding himself in Mombasa. He has been carted there by an agent of India's

Research and Analysis Wing, Kusum Devi Yadav (Amruta Subhash), who forces him to help find Shahid Khan (Ranvir Shorey), the mastermind behind bomb blasts and terror attacks.

In Mumbai, police inspector Sartaj (Saif Ali Khan) has just two weeks to save the city from a nuclear attack, which Gaitonde had warned him about. Both men love Mumbai and do not want it to be destroyed. But religious extremist Khanna Guruji (Pankaj Tripathi) and his chief disciple Batya Ableman (Kalki Koechlin) believe that only such a catastrophic destruction can help cleanse society and bring a cleaner, saner new order.

A narrative of deceit, betrayal, love and longing, the second season has a plodding start, but picks up steam from the fourth episode, with Sartaj and his men racing against time to find a nuclear time bomb that could wipe out Mumbai. Crude dialogue and a constant doomsday atmosphere could have been avoided, but riveting performances by the lead pair – Khan and Siddiqui (though he is getting typecast in this kind of role) – and nail-biting thrills make this Netflix original dramatically captivating.