Netflix Data Reveal Unstoppable March of Korean TV Series

  • By Oh Rora

    December 14, 2023 12:02

    Streaming giant Netflix' biggest data reveal so far confirms just how popular Korean drama series are around the world.
    "The Glory" starring Song Hye-kyo as a bullying victim who takes revenge, was the third most-viewed program in the first half of this year with 622.8 million cumulative viewing hours after it was released on Dec. 30 last year. "The Glory" was the only non-English series among the top 10 most-viewed contents.
    Netflix revealed the data in a comprehensive report titled "What We Watched: A Netflix Engagement Report" for the first time on Tuesday and will publish them twice a year from now on.
    It covers viewership information on 18,000 programs that accounted for 99 percent of the content on Netflix in the first half.
    The top-ranked show was "The Night Agent," which logged some 800 million viewership hours. Fifteen Korean dramas and shows were among the top 100, logging 2.7 billion combined cumulative viewership hours. They included "Physical: 100" at 15th (235 million hours) and "Crash Course in Romance" at 16th (234.8 million hours).
    Non-English content accounted for 30 percent of the top 100 programs. Although Netflix did not break down data by country, Korean and Spanish-language content led the field.
    But Netflix warned that the data cannot tell the whole story. Global releases are at an advantage compared to regional releases, while running times also affect viewership patterns.
    "Success on Netflix comes in all shapes and sizes, and is not determined by hours viewed alone," the company said. "We have enormously successful movies and TV shows with both lower and higher hours viewed. It's all about whether a movie or TV show thrilled its audience -- and the size of that audience relative to the economics of the title."
    Netflix said it is releasing the data now to boost "transparency," but what is really behind the change of heart is unclear. The decision to reveal the viewing figures comes at the same time that the global streaming giant is raising subscription fees and prohibiting the sharing of accounts.
    In Korea, Netflix on Wednesday scrapped the cheapest W9,500 basic membership (US$1=W1,320). New customers now have to pay at least W13,500 for a standard membership without ads. In July, Netflix also scrapped the cheapest subscription in the U.S. and several other countries.
    "Netflix' global fee hike appears to reflect its confidence that viewers won't stop signing up because the service is so vital," an industry insider said.
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