Netflix’s Korean drama Squid Game is taking the world by storm, topping the streamer’s rankings in more than 90 countries en route to likely becoming Netflix’s most watched program ever, a first for a non-English language series. The milestone success got the attention of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who congratulated Netflix on making their “internationalization strategy” work, calling the feat “impressive and inspiring.”
The Saturday tweet set the Internet abuzz, with reactions ranging from comparing Bezos to the Squid Game VIP villains, to hypothesizing about an Amazon acquisition of Netflix all the way to wondering what Bezos’ praise for Netflix’s international content strategy means about the one employed by Amazon Studios.
.@ReedHastings and Ted Sarandos and the team at @Netflix get it right so often. Their internationalization strategy isn’t easy, and they’re making it work. Impressive and inspiring. (And I can’t wait to watch the show.) https://t.co/yFw7TGyc1U
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) October 2, 2021
Netflix, Amazon Studios and Apple TV+ have all been aggressive in their expansion into local language originals, recently joined by other streamers that are going global, including Disney+. Netflix and Amazon have gone toe-to-toe in India, which is considered a top growth opportunity given its size, and Amazon Studios has been gaining on Netflix in Latin America.
The Squid Game’s success caps a concerted effort as Netflix has been actively ramping up Korean production. It paid off as the streamer’s K-dramas’ US viewership has jumped over 200% between 2019 and 2021, culminating in the Squid Game breakthrough.
While it doesn’t have a Korean content pipeline, in Asia, Amazon Studios has been strong in Japan, with local format Last One Laughing as its most successful Local Original franchise, which has launched or been greenlit in ten regions to date including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico and Spain. (In the U.S. the company has gotten most traction with Indian titles.)
Amazon Studios also has been investing in global drama formats, like the Russo brothers’ Citadel, which was designed to incorporate local offshoots.
Still, Netflix had a head start and is starting to reap the benefits of implementing a global content strategy early and in more markets with more resources than any of its competitors. The streamer already has had success with shows like Elite, Money Heist as well as Lupin, which earlier this year became the first French-language series to hit No. 1 in the U.S.
After leaving pundits scratching their heads for 20 hours, Bezos, who previously had professed his love for HBO’s Game of Thrones and Netflix’s Stranger Things, went back to Twitter Sunday to squash the wild theories about the meaning of his Squid Game comment. Netflix and Amazon are both slated to report earnings within the next month.
No, just simple admiration. https://t.co/uLeWcB8xrn
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) October 3, 2021