Netflix’s China strategy surprisingly doesn’t revolve around launching its platform in the second biggest economy of the world.
The online streaming network has been spending a ton of money producing original Chinese content and acquiring distribution rights to content in Mandarin.
Its current strategy is to create shows for Mandarin speakers living outside China, with a global appeal.
September saw the launch of ‘Nowhere Men’. January saw the launch of ‘The Ghost Bride’ and ‘Triad Princess’, filmed in Malaysia and Taiwan, with the medium in Mandarin.
Netflix released ‘The Wandering Earth’ on its own platform for global audiences. The movie was among the highest grossers in China for 2019 and its first space-based epic.
Youku, a streaming platform owned by AliBaba, stated that Netflix had previously bought distribution rights for outside China to ‘I Hear You’, which is a romantic comedy consisting of 24 episodes.
Netflix has never been able to launch in China. It had previously partnered with a Chinese streaming service, iQiyi, owned by Baidu to distribute its own content in the country. However, that partnership ended soon.
Gong Yu, the CEO of iQiyi, informed CNBC that since Netflix’s content did not match with user taste in China, the partnership had been scrapped. They had signed deals with six other conventional studios from other countries including USA.
Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix has stated that they need government approval to launch Netflix in China. They’re currently focusing their efforts in countries like India.
The plan right now is to continue to present content aimed at Mandarin speakers outside China.
Paolo Pescatore of PP Foresight stated that Netflix made no gains in China at all. It needs to focus on partnering with local studios and deal with censorship issues. It could also restart its partnership with China’s iQiyi and work with vendors and local Telco’s.
But it might not work, since iQiyi has already made major strides in the Chinese market.