All over the world, Netflix is making its mark. The two most searched series on Google in Argentina in 2020? “Cobra Kai” and “The Lady’s Game”, two Netflix-branded programs. In India comes first “La Casa de Papel”, another series of the platform, which ranks fifth in Egypt and first in Nigeria. In Brazil, according to the Omelete site, the launch of the third season of “Cobra Kai” in early January increased searches for karate schools by 75%. In Iraq, government opponents shot and posted a video wearing the red jumpsuit and mask popularized by “La Casa de Papel”.
Wherever you are, “Netflix has become the ultimate destination for anyone looking for (the new series or the new movie) to go viral in the world,” Oliver Skinner, marketing manager of the dubbing company, recently wrote in a blog post. Voices. Able to put online a series translated into dozens of languages, a first, Netflix has managed, on several occasions, to orient the dominant conversation on social networks around its content in recent months, from “Tiger King” to ” Lupine”.
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However, there is a gap between the platform’s series and its films. Despite 35 Oscar nominations, none of them (notably “The Blues of Ma Rainey”, “Mank” or “The Chicago Seven”) has yet had a major popular impact. In a televisual universe in theory more fragmented than ever, “certain series of Netflix (…) have the same cultural influence as those of the three big American chains” (ABC, CBS and NBC) until in the Eighties, estimates Gabriel Rossman , professor of sociology specializing in the entertainment industry at the University of UCLA. “Happy Days” (1974-1984) or “Dallas” (1978-1991) thus toured the globe and marked a generation of viewers, at a time when series were more imposed than chosen.
Arrived before all its competitors at a critical size, Netflix maintains a head start thanks to the accumulation of data on the consumption habits of its 207 million accounts, underlines Aswin Punathambekar, professor at the University of Virginia. “It allows them to understand trends beyond just demographics,” he says, “and to decide which series to order.” Is the imprint of the big red “N” unprecedented? “It would be like asking if the cultural influence of Netflix is stronger than that of Disney. I am not sure that this is the case for the moment”, moderates Louis Wiart, professor in the department of information sciences and of communication at the Université Libre de Bruxelles.
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“What is certain is that these new emerging markets in Asia and Latin America are priorities for Netflix,” he said, in particular because of the emergence of a middle class, “which has access to new modes of digital and cultural consumption “and have a” fairly strong affinity with this platform “. To improve its penetration abroad, and also to comply with local laws, Netflix produces more and more local content, and has succeeded in making, for the first time, a Spanish series (“La Casa de Papel”) and French (“Lupine”), worldwide successes.
“Netflix produces local content but for the global market (…) which can be exported around the world”, underlines Louis Wiart. “This entails a risk of standardization, of fitting into standards (…), but also a risk of folklorization of the content, that is to say that we will seek in these works to promote typical aspects of the territory. ” “This Netflix content has a very strong Hollywood accent. + The Revolution + is really reminiscent of a blockbuster for example and there are a lot of examples like that.”
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For Gabriel Rossman, Netflix has now peaked. The platform must now deal with the rise of competing offers from Disney + or Amazon Prime, which will limit its hegemony, using the same strategy, with a base of programs in the English language and series produced locally. Netflix published results on Tuesday that show the first signs of slowing down, and expects to gain only one million subscribers in the second quarter, against ten for the same period of 2020.
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