Netflix set to take on Asian tigers

Netflix has announced plans to launch in the four Asian tiger economies of South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan in early 2016.

The announcement follows Netflix’s entry into the Australian market in March and Japan on September 2. Read the Netflix news release here:

Netflix To Launch In South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong And Taiwan In Early 2016

All four territories are wired and gadget-obsessed with developed economies (they were dubbed Tiger economies following a period of rapid growth starting in the mid-1960s) so they’re obvious targets for Netflix after launching in Japan. Audiences in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan are also avid consumers of US films and TV shows. Hollywood movies have a majority share of box office in all three territories.

Korea may prove more of a challenge in content terms as Netflix will need to acquire a substantial amount of Korean films and TV shows to make an impact with local viewers. But then Netflix also needs Korean content to woo viewers in the rest of Asia – particularly Korean TV shows, which have a global audience, although they’re already available on platforms such as Viki.com and DramaFever.

In terms of local competition, Korea is well developed with VOD services launched by IPTV operators, telcos KT and SK and internet portals such as Daum and Naver. Like neighbouring China, Korea never had much of a legal DVD market, but now content producers are starting to see an uptick in digital revenues.

In Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, Netflix will compete with the VOD offerings of local cable, IPTV and telco players. As they’re relatively small markets, attempts by outsiders to set up TVOD or SVOD services have so far been few and far between.

An exception is mainland China’s LeTV which is targeting the Hong Kong market –recently paying $50m (HK$400m) for exclusive rights to English Premier League matches for the next three years.

However, there’s some debate over whether internet TV companies need to secure a licence before they can operate in Hong Kong. Although Hong Kong only has two free-to-air broadcasters, one of which appears close to collapse, the government denied a free-to-air licence to Ricky Wong’s Hong Kong Television Network two years ago.