Netflix’s K-thriller ‘Squid Game’ series goes viral, underscoring Netflix’s big opportunity overseas

Tuesday, October 5, 2021 by Robinhood Snacks | Disclosures

"Hunger Games" meets "Black Mirror"… Netflix’s new South Korean fictional thriller “Squid Game” debuted 10 days ago and is already on track to becoming its biggest show ever (sorry, “Bridgerton”). The drama follows hundreds of cash-strapped contestants competing in children’s games for a big $$ prize (think red light, green light), but losing could mean death. The results are viral:

  • From the couch to the monitor: Fans are using apps like TikTok to recreate the series’ tasks (see the Dalogna candy challenge). Game makers on Roblox are also creating playable spinoffs.
  • 82M million subscribers are expected to tune in by the end of the month. It’s now the top show in 90 countries.

Netflix’s streaming passport… is full of stamps. Since its international debut in Canada a decade ago, ’Flix has added 180+ countries to its roster. America still accounts for about a quarter of Netflix’s 209M global paying memberships, but US growth is tapping out. To unlock new audiences, Netflix is looking overseas:

  • International reels: This year, Netflix plans to spend half its $17B original content spend on productions outside the US.
  • Hits: Popular shows like Germany’s “Barbarians,” the French series “Lupin,” and South Korea’s “Sweet Home” have boosted Netflix’s international subscribers 18%+ since 2018.

Going global means it might be time to “copy and paste”… Netflix’s US subscriber base is no longer growing — it actually dropped by 400K people this year — which means the streaming giant has two options to grow: Raise prices or win new customers somewhere else. With hits like “Squid Game,” Netflix is doubling down on high-quality international content to win over new subscribers overseas. The push seems to be working, but it does bring some new costs: Think pricey licensing fees and conflicts with broadband providers facing traffic spikes.