- Netflix, Disney+ and other streamers invest in international series to attract viewers around the world.
- Many companies have reshuffled their original programming teams to prioritize global content.
- We’ve identified the top executives commanding international shows at Apple, Warner Bros. Discovery, and more.
Streaming has changed the way Hollywood thinks about the ability of content to cross borders.
With services like
, Amazon Prime Video and Disney now available worldwide, it’s easier than ever to hit a truly global hit. And it’s not just American content that can find an international audience. Netflix thriller “Squid Game” has proven – with more than a billion hours watched in its first 28 days – that a local-language original can also resonate around the world.
As the US streaming market matures, platforms are increasingly looking for new subscribers overseas, which means international content will only grow in importance in the years to come.
To that end, many companies have revamped their original programming teams expressly to boost their international content pipelines. In 2020, for example, Netflix promoted Bela Bajaria to a newly created position overseeing its global television business. And earlier this year, Disney created a new hub to feed an international programming pipeline to Disney+. It now has some 500 local language originals in the works.
Max Michael, Asian business development manager for UTA, told Insider that the so-called “Squid Game” effect has created “an increased level of attention to foreign language content” across all streamer markets.
“To Netflix’s credit, they’ve been so successful on some of their international shows that the growth has brought a lot of attention to some of these territories and some of these projects,” Michael added. While the result signified a boom time for producers around the world, he said he also created questions about “what is local language content and what is global”.
Now, there are executives at almost every media company tasked with finding answers to this question.
Some broadcasters, like Netflix and Disney+, have central executives overseeing their international content strategies, with regional managers ordering shows in each market. Others, like Discovery+, primarily order content locally.
NBCUniversal’s Peacock, which doesn’t order much local-language programming apart from some shows from the UK and Canada and Spanish-speaking partner Telemundo, is one of the main streamers who has so far watched its rivals from the sidelines. as rivals prioritize international expansion.
Peacock is currently available as a standalone service in the US and a few other markets including the UK, Ireland and Germany. (There are plans to distribute some originals in other European countries via a
joint venture with Sky and Paramount called SkyShowtime.) But that could change as executives including NBCU entertainment content president Susan Rovner, head of content acquisitions Val Boreland and vice president of Peacock programming Brian Henderson work out the streamer’s content strategy.
Below are the key executives driving the international content boom at major broadcasters, and the people they lead on programming across the globe.