‘Friends’ & ‘The Office’ Still Popular In Asian SVOD But U.S. Content Wanes With K-Pop & Anime On The Rise

Legacy U.S. shows such as The Office and Friends remain popular in Asia, but interest in American content is on the wane in the region, a new study shows.

Media Partners Asia (MPA)’s latest report show U.S. content maintained a lead among SVOD users, with 60% viewing it in Q1 of 2024, ahead of Korean titles (56%) and Japanese originals (48%). However, the figure for U.S. content was 70% two years ago in the same period, highlighting how local content, especially in Korea and Japan, are driving viewing.

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Notably, in Korea, engagement with U.S. content was just 9%. In Japan, it was 11%. Conversely, engagement was up at 69% in English-speaking Australia and relatively strong in Southeast Asia (32%). Despite the low engagement, MPA Lead Analyst Dhivya T said that “even in highly local markets such as Korea, Japan and Indonesia, U.S. content drove 15-30% of SVOD customer acquisition.”

The US Content In Asia Pacific report leveraged data from insight from MPA’s platform Amid to reveal trends across Australia, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand – through passive panels of 40,000 digital users over the May 2023 to April 2024 period.

Netflix, Warner Bros. Discovery and NBCUniversal provided the most popular U.S. content, with Netflix gobbling up between 50-75% of U.S. streaming hours in each market over the past year. Local dubbing on U.S. originals such as One Piece, Avatar: The Last Airbender and Extraction 2 helped those titles to top reach metrics. In Japan, market leader Prime Video provided 23% of the U.S. hours, while Disney+ captured between 15-20% of viewership in Australia, Japan and Korea by the same metric.

Third-part studio content drove around around 75% of engagement on Netflix and Prime Video, while almost all of Disney+’s local viewership cameras from the likes of WBD, NBCU, Paramount and Sony. Output partnerships, such as Binge’s with WBD and Paramount’s with Hulu Japan, led to high engagement in Australia and Japan, respectively. Therefore, local services such as Big, U-Next and Waave captured “notable” shares of U.S. content engagement.

“Long-tail appeal and a variety of scripted genres across series and movies, topped by science fiction and fantasy, power U.S. content popularity in APAC,” said Dhivya T. “Fan-favourite sitcoms and procedurals such as Friends and The Office have enduring engagement impact, with library titles making up 68% of the top 500 U.S. titles in APAC.”

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