Overseas expansion has also begun paying off for Netflix. After a rocky start four years ago, Brazil by 2017 had become the company’s largest market outside the English-speaking world. Original content helped: a show called 3%, a near-future drama shot in São Paulo, was a hit in Brazil and beyond, with “millions” of US viewers streaming it with subtitles, according to the company. This also made 3% “the first Portuguese language television show to travel meaningfully beyond Latin America and Portugal,” Netflix said in its most recent earnings statement.
Other Netflix programs are also proving their transnational appeal. The bilingual drama Narcos, about cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar, was a hit both in Latin America and the United States, a rare cross-border success. The company said it would focus on producing more original shows with transnational appeal, such as Japanese anime and Turkish dramas.
Not all technology companies have been so successful. YouTube, owned by Google, has seen weak subscriber growth in the first year of YouTube Red, its paid subscription service that offers original programming.
But that hasn’t deterred Apple, which is now planning its own foray into original content, according to unnamed sources cited in the Wall Street Journal. Premium original shows and movies will soon be part of the company’s $10-per-month streaming-music service, the sources said, adding that the company aims more to distinguish itself from other audio streaming services such as Spotify than to go up against Netflix and the like. Original scripted content from Apple is expected by late 2017.
The original content gold rush is just one more example of the extent to which tech brands are now treading on each other’s turf. For more on the increasing overlap of technology giants, see Silicon Soup (#17) in The Future 100: Trends and Change to Watch in 2017.