n order for Disney+ to keep growing globally, it is investing lots of money into new content and while there is a lot of focus on the popular Marvel and Star Wars series, Disney has been busy building up its international output and most recently, creating a whole new division to create content for its streaming service.
One area that Disney is expanding its production of new original programming is across Asia, with shows like “Rookie Cops” and “Snowdrop” being some of the most popular originals released so far.
Recently, Disney’s Asia Pacific head of content and development, Jessica Kam-Engle, spoke with Variety about why its new original programming is so important for the growth of Disney+.
From our extensive research, consumers across most Asian markets have a strong preference for local language entertainment content. In recent years, demand for Korean content in particular has experienced phenomenal growth across the region. Our local production operations in APAC was set up with the goal of producing premium original content from this region to complement global branded content from our iconic suite of franchises, including Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, Nat Geo and Star. Anchored on quality storytelling, we aim to offer a diversified portfolio of entertainment content on Disney Plus that will resonate with and beyond our core audiences. We also aspire to showcase creative excellence from Asia Pacific to global audiences.
Following the huge success of Netflix’s “Squid Game”, it’s unsurprising to see Disney focusing its attention on Asia, with millions of subscribers potentially available, it needs original content created in the region and Jessica explained what Disney’s current plan is:
We have ambitious goals and hope to greenlight over 50 APAC originals by 2023. Over the last six months, we have launched several titles including “Grid,” “Rookie Cops,” “Blackpink The Movie” and “Snowdrop” from South Korea; “Anita: Director’s Cut” from Greater China; “Susah Sinyal The Series” and “Virgin The Series” from Indonesia. This year alone, we plan to release over 20 Korean titles including at least 12 Korean originals on Disney Plus. The consumer response towards our APAC content slate has been positive and encouraging. Korean drama “Snowdrop” secured a spot in the top five most watched titles in the majority of APAC markets on Disney Plus.
Because Disney is going to be spending so much money globally on brand new content, Jessica explains why they want to focus on quality rather than quantity with regards to originals.
We have a long-term and very exciting content plan in place, with a broad range of genres, across markets and languages to cater to different audiences. Our new content lineup from APAC will be part of the best of global storytelling that The Walt Disney Company is known for. Our strategic focus for local production is not centered on the volume of content (as we have a treasure trove of content across our brand franchises and a vast library across decades) but on quality storytelling. We are working with the best content creators and talent in the region to tell their authentic stories to worldwide audiences.
Recently, Disney announced it has made a new deal with the Japanese production company Nippon TV, to produce content together and during the interview, Jessica explained the difference between co-productions and originals.
Our APAC content slate includes local originals which we commission and develop– such as “Grid,” “Rookie Cops,” “Gannibal” and “Teluh Darah.” It also includes co-productions with our broadcasting and studio partners leveraging their local expertise – such as “Snowdrop” or “The Files of Young Kindaichi.” Our strategic collaboration with Nippon TV Holdings includes co-production efforts on local language content for the global streaming audience. That’s very exciting as it offers us long-term collaborative opportunities with strategic partners and Japanese creators, and allows us to bring authentic and high quality Japanese series (like the “Files of Young Kindaichi”) to the world stage.
She also explained where they are focusing their efforts:
We have local production efforts in Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia/Indonesia, Australia and Greater China. This is based on market priorities for our direct-to-consumer business, as well as local production needs and expertise available. From these production hubs, we have a steady supply of Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Bahasa content which addresses the most popular local language content demands from the region.
We should expect to see many more international originals released globally on Disney+ in the coming years, not just from Asia, but also from across Latin America and Europe, as Disney currently has over 350 projects in development from its international division.
Are you excited to see more content from Asia on Disney+ globally?
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.