In today's global world, the success of international content is not limited to its original country. With readily available subtitles and dubbing, linguistic barriers have been significantly reduced for audiences around the world. Here we dig deeper into this trend with a snapshot of US demand in May 2020 for non-English content available in the US on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.
64.1% of Netflix’s titles available in the US are English language. This is the lowest share of platforms included in this analysis and reflects the platform’s global reach as well as the number of foreign language Netflix originals that are available to subscribers regardless of home country.
Five languages are represented among the top 10 on Netflix this month. Japanese original language series took five of the top ten spots. All of these were Japanese animation shows, which have a long history of being popular outside of their home market.
La Casa de Papel is the only Spanish language series in the top ten on the three platforms analyzed here. This is a surprising result given that Spanish is the second largest language spoken in the US and could indicate an opportunity for more Spanish language content on these platforms.
85.7% of titles available on Hulu in the US are English language. The top 10 non-English series are dominated by Japanese language content. My Hero Academia is in fact the most in-demand non-English show in May across all platforms included in this analysis.
Also interesting to note is that while both Amazon Prime Video and Netflix have their own digital original foreign language series in the top 10, all of Hulu’s most in demand non-English series this month are not Hulu originals. This is likely due to the service being only available in the US. However, the company has announced plans to roll the service out internationally in 2021 so non-English originals from Hulu may be on the horizon.
89.6% of Amazon Prime Video’s titles available in the US are English language. The top 10 non-English series are spread across 5 languages, with the top 2 series on this platform being Korean language shows. The top 4 foreign language series on Amazon Prime Video in May are children’s shows.
Zerozerozero is an interesting example of foreign language content. While categorized as Italian here, it is actually shot in a number of languages including Arabic, English, French, Spanish, and Wolof. The Family Man, a Hindi language spy action series, is the only Amazon Prime Video digital original among the top 10 on this platform as well as the only Hindi language series to make the top ten on any of the platforms included in this analysis. While the reason for producing this series is likely driven by the platform's efforts to expand its presence in the Indian market, it is notable that this series has generated above average interest among American audiences.
A closing note about Disney+. This platform did not have any non-English content available in the US as of May 2020. This is a bit surprising considering the platform's international ambitions from day 1. However, Disney and its conglomerate of brands have had a long record of phenomenal success selling English language content abroad and so may stick to that strategy. It is also worth mentioning that cartoons and animated content, a strength of Disney’s, are an easier format to localize. This could be an interesting strategic differentiation with Netflix, for example, which has actively produced and acquired local content for international markets.