What Filipinos love watching on Netflix

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
What Filipinos love watching on Netflix
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MANILA, Philippines — K-dramas, YA Hollywood content, animé these are what Filipinos are loving on Netflix.

If you’re a subscriber, you’ll get an idea of what’s trending based on the daily Top 10 feature of the platform. Nevertheless, Netflix gave us a clearer insight into what and why Filipinos consume certain content on the international streaming service.

Minyoung Kim, Netflix’s vice president for Content (Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand), told The STAR and other select press in a recent virtual interview that the streaming platform, which arrived in Asia six years ago, is still at the early stages of the business. “We’re at the dating stage of figuring out what our audiences want.”

Minyoung Kim is Netflix’s VP for Content (Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand).

But what they have learned so far about the Philippine audience, Kim said, is that “they love our Hollywood shows. They love films like To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. But what they also love is Korean content and then they also love the animé that we’re also putting on our service.”

She also believes that the Filipino preferences are reflective of the country’s large young population.

Kim said, “Authentic stories travel really well but I do think there are certain types of stories that our Philippine audiences really love. Philippines, being such a young country, with the demographic being so young, I do think our Philippine audience really loves young adult (YA), romance titles.”

Undoubtedly, one of the platform’s strongest suits and a major draw of Filipino viewers is its Korean content. Kim said that from the start, they’ve always believed that K-content will help the business expand across Asia. Comparing 2020 to 2019, the K-content consumption on the service rose four times in Asia. K-drama viewing among Filipinos, in particular, grew to 350 percent in 2020.

When asked about similarities and differences between what does well in South Korea and in other markets like the Philippines, Kim said, “There are certain things that our Philippine audiences love, there are certain things that our Thai audiences love or Singapore audiences love. I don’t think of it as something that works in Korea and something that works outside of Korea. Again, an authentic story, something that’s authentic to Korea, really works well outside. But, I see subtle differences in the preferences of our audiences, and I think our Philippine audiences really love those YA stories and romance shows as well.”

Star Cinema’s romantic-comedy film Love or Money, starring Coco Martin and Angelica Panganiban, is coming to Netflix on May 15.

For Kim, there are three main reasons why their K-content selection works.

No. 1, she noted, the stories are diverse — from time-traveling, romantic thriller shows such as The King: Eternal Monarch to cross-border romance Crash Landing On You, to the monster-themed Sweet Home and dark high school drama Extracurricular. “I think that’s what appeals to a lot of our audience — that they can actually enjoy these different, diverse stories.”

Second reason is the production quality which, she said, has evolved and developed a lot over the years. “Right now, we’re at the stage that the Korean entertainment industry is able to produce top-notch, high production value shows that are as of high quality as any other shows in the world.”

But the third and strongest point for her is the shows’ relatability. “The biggest strength of Korean content is that whatever genre, Korean shows are very good at helping our audiences resonate and relate to (them) by being able to describe emotions in a very detailed way.

“There are so many diverse shows and you will have at least a couple of shows that you can really relate to. So, it really satisfies a wide audience base. And I think strong emotions are one of the strengths (if not) the biggest strength of Korean content, and I think our audiences in the Philippines are very passionate and strong in emotions. That’s why our Philippine audiences really love Korean content.”

Meanwhile, Netflix is bullish about 2021 becoming their strongest year yet.

Premiering on May 14, Move to Heaven is a K-drama starring Lee Je-hoon and Tang Jun-sang that tells the heartwarming tale of a young man with Asperger’s syndrome and a man who becomes his guardian overnight.
Photos courtesy of Netflix

They’re investing $500M in K-content alone this year and “laying the long-term foundation” for more original Korean productions by securing two content studios. Aside from K-dramas, Netflix is releasing its first self-produced films Carter and Moral Sense and venturing into unscripted shows and sitcoms this year.

Kim said, “We have great ambition and great plans to entertain our members with a diverse slate.”

Moreover, it’s worth-noting that Netflix is interested in sourcing more original and licensed local content. There has been a marked increase in local titles on the platform over the year. It’s interesting to see how even old movie releases found new life on Netflix.

In 2020, for one, romance viewing on Netflix Philippines went up by 400 percent and it was the Filipino movie Through Night and Day (starring Paolo Contis and Alessandra De Rossi) that emerged as the most popular romantic title. While Ang Pangarap Kong Holdap, topbilled by Contis, Jerald Napoles, Pepe Herrera and Jelson Bay, was the most popular comedy title. These films were theatrically released some years back and “underperformed” at the box-office, but became well-loved on the platform.

“One of the areas that we really want to look into and we do have confidence that our audiences really love is to see themselves on the screen, to find those stories that are authentic to the local market, where our audiences in each market can resonate really well,” Kim said of their plans on original and licensed local content.

“And what we do is we try to bring those content for our service, whether it’s original or licensed. So, figuring out what our audiences want has been the homework that we still have and something that we want to get better at.”

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