Korea Rivals the U.S. in New Scripted Shows’ Global Internet Popularity

TOLEDO, Spain — In 2022, 32 U.S. titles ranked in a top 100 of most globally popular new scripted TV shows released in 2022. 

30 South Korean series made the same Top 100, according to a study by London and L.A.-based consultancy Ampere Analysis  presented Tuesday at Spain’s Conecta Fiction. 

Ampere’s popularity score is a propriety metric based not on viewership but on the tracking of internet search volume received by a title each month as well as other metrics, Ampere’s Alice Thorpe clarified at the presentation. 

The fandom base of Korean series and Japanese anime are concentrated in teen and YA demographics, which are also most avid Internet users. 

“Demographic skew can certainly be a factor, yes. The existence of fandom around these titles certainly helps. We account for not just search volume/trending topics, however, but also factor in page views on key internet sources such as Wikipedia and IMDb, for example,” Thorpe told Variety

“The global popularity scores are cumulative across territories so the more individual markets a title generates high levels of engagement in, the higher its chances of appearing in the global top 100,” she added.

Her major point, however, was that the shift in focus to still growing markets will only accelerate the globalization of popular scripted TV. 

The focus on new shows means that many of the currently most popular shows on earth were not considered for the count, as they bowed returning seasons in 2022. Five of the Top 10 English-language TV shows on Netflix over June 12-18 were sequels, for instance. 

“While South Korea does indeed release a far higher proportion of new shows, some 360 new scripted shows produced in the USA released last year vs. around 140 produced in South Korea, so the territory really does continue to punch above its weight when it comes to the global impact of its content!” said Thorpe.

The figures serve to supply further statistical backing to other stats confirming a surge in Korean TV worldwide. 

In an off-week, over June 12-18, Korea’s “Bloodhounds” –  proclaimed as “the most exciting and impressive Korean Netflix original since the streaming platform’s golden late 2021 run of ‘D.P.,’ ‘Squid Game’ and ‘Hellbound’” – scored on Netflix 65.9 million hours viewed, more than Netflix’s top English-language show that same week, “Never Have I Ever,” Season 4.

Three Other Takeaways from the Ampere Analysis Keynote:

Business Growth Slows

When Alice Thorpe at Ampere Analysis took the stage to deliver her keynote at Toledo’s Conecta Fiction on early Tuesday, she became the first analyst in the history of Conecta Fiction to do so in a context of slowing business fundamentals or outright downturn. 

Since 2013, four years before Conecta fiction launched, global content spend has seen 10 or 11 years of consistent growth, only broken by COVID-19 in 2020. But spend is beginning to plateau around $250 billion for 2023 as investment in original & acquired  content has shrunk in North America (down from $68.4 billion in 2022 to an estimated $61.9 billion this year) and in Western Europe ($26.6 billion/$26.2 billion). The only region where spend has increased is Asia-Pacific (APAC), up 3% year-on-year from $16.4 billion to $16.9 billion. 

AVOD & FAST: The Explosion

Yet growth there is, despite a generally downbeat scenario. AVOD and FAST series orders grew 417% in the U.S. from 12 in second half 2021 to 62 same period 2022, Thorpe noted in Toledo. 76% of Spanish-language content in content hours on U.S. platforms played on SVOD services in April 2020. Three years later, near half, 47%, now airs on AVOD systems. The audience for FAST is growing in Latin America, particularly among Spanish-speakers. 32% of U.S. Internet users have used a FAST player service in the last month. Argentina is now hardly far behind at 23%.

A Growth Driver: Europe’s Broadcaster VOD Platforms  

One major deal driver at the Cannes and Annecy festivals last month and this was the lift-off of European broadcasters VOD platforms as their priority services or a significant part of their business model. Results can be extraordinary. Documentary content produced in the European Big 5 markets available outside their production country on broadcaster VOD (BVOD) services increased 423% from 2020 to 2022 to rival hours aired on linear services, up 25%. AVOD doc content skyrocketed 91% in two years. Doc content even increased 38% in programming hours on SVOD systems. Nor everything is downturn.

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