Streaming Platforms Love Local Content

Collage by Nicolás Venturelli

APEX Insight: Subscription-based streaming platforms are stirring up demand for regional productions, injecting local flavor into IFE content.

Local content is on the rise in large part thanks to Netflix. The global subscription video on demand (SVOD) service has been investing in content from places where it seeks to expand its membership. Netflix released its first non-US original in 2013, followed by eight more in 2015 and another 27 in 2016, for a total of 80 productions shot outside the US, including upcoming projects.

In France, where Netflix currently reaches about 10 percent of households, it has vowed to feature 40 percent more French content than in 2017. And in India, where Netflix hopes to gain traction with the developing mobile market, it plans to invest a significant portion of its $6-billion global budget for original and licensed content on regional productions. 

But Netflix isn’t alone in propelling the local content trend forward. According to video analytics company Vidooly, Amazon Prime India’s catalog is 10 percent local content, and the online services giant has expressed further interest in boosting its Indian content offering with titles in Tamil and Telugu in addition to Hindi. 

“One major factor contributing to the rise of localized content is the growth of regional SVOD services,” says Emma Gunn, director of Programme Acquisitions and Content Partnerships, Spafax, adding that these regional distributors are recognizing the demand and responding with their
own originals.

“One major factor contributing to the rise of localized content is the growth of regional SVOD services.” – Emma Gunn, Spafax

Airlines are also responding to the trend with content from both global and regional producers. Eros International Media – an Indian motion picture production company and in-flight entertainment (IFE) provider, whose clients include Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Gulf Air and others – launched a local content SVOD platform, called Eros Now, in 2015. Having previously worked predominantly on films, the company now plans to release eight to 10 originals (a mix of films and series) spanning the comedy, drama and thriller genres over the next
year or so. 

Amita Naidu, Eros’ vice-president, Public Relations, believes the company’s plan to release originals will appeal to airlines, among which Indian content is gaining popularity. Bajirao Mastani, for example, was available on more than 62 airlines worldwide, making it one of the most popular Indian films in flight.

While content tradeshows have been traditionally popular for international distributors to acquire successful English-language titles, Gunn says this has flipped. “We’re now seeing a trend toward English-language broadcasters attending these markets to acquire shows and formats from every corner of the globe and, in some cases, overthrowing US and UK shows from prime-time slots.”

And bridging the gap between local and international content is a rise in co-productions: According to Eurodata TV Worldwide’s 2017 “Scripted Series” report, 10 percent of the top series in 2017 were co-productions, an increase of four percent from 2016. Co-productions are particularly popular when the countries involved share the same language or even culture, as they can be broadcast to a larger audience.

This was the case with the TV series Als de dijken breken, a Belgian and Dutch co-production broadcast on NPO 1 that ranked second in the Netherlands in 2017. However, as the report states, “Sometimes, associations between the most unlikely countries – for example, the historical Russian-Portuguese series Mata Hari broadcast on Russia’s Pierviy Kanal [now called Channel One] – create a surprise and encounter great success.”  

“Local Produce” was originally published in the 8.3 June/July issue of APEX Experience magazine.