After quickly expanding to become the world’s largest subscription based video streaming service, (excluding China) Netflix has faced little in the way of competition. Amazon’s Prime video offering has come closest so far, but the company doesn’t generate the large volumes of new content Netflix does.
But now, HBO, a premium content company has declared war on Netflix’s global prowess. To increase its audience around the world, HBO is creating more homegrown series in its foreign markets. These shows, at times, surpass even its flagship properties Game of Thrones and Westworld for viewership in those markets.
Gerry Smith writes at Bloomberg:
This year, HBO is creating 250 hours of original programming for its foreign subscribers, including shows, movies and documentaries—a 40% increase over last year. The channel will make 14 original scripted series outside the US, up from 10 two years ago.
The Spanish drama “Patria” is one of them. It’s based on a best-selling novel about two families during the Basque conflict—still a fraught topic in some quarters. It’s being developed by one of Spain’s most famous TV showrunners, Aitor Gabilondo, creator of “The Prince,” a cop show that was the country’s biggest primetime series in 2016, according to Variety. Another HBO project is the Swedish comedy “Gosta,” which tells the story of a child psychologist in Stockholm who moves to a rural town, rents a cottage in the woods and attempts to be the nicest person in the world.
Both shows are expected to be released next year on their country’s streaming services—HBO Spain and HBO Nordic. Each of the online channels has more than 1 million subscribers and offers a mix of popular American HBO shows and acquired hits from other programmers.
Some existing HBO shows in Europe include the Polish drama “Wataha,” which translates to “the pack” in English but is also known as “The Border.” It’s a show about a guard unit that patrols the Polish border with Ukraine. Meanwhile, in Mexico, HBO has backed “Sr. Avila,” a drama which tells the tale of a hit man who struggles with personal demons. Both programs have at times drawn larger audiences in their home countries than have HBO’s flagship American series.
HBO said introducing homegrown programs often leads to a surge in subscribers. From 2001 to 2004, for instance, the channel saw 16% subscription growth in Latin America. In 2004, HBO unveiled its first international scripted series, the Argentine detective show “Epitafios.” Over the next four years, subscriptions in Latin America grew by a whopping 53%.
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