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The future of Netflix is international, and European series will play an increasing role in the strategy of the global streaming giant.
That was the message of Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who kicked off a Netflix press event in Berlin on Wednesday dedicated to the company’s European originals.
Hastings said Netflix has spent more than $1.75 billion on European productions, including original productions, licensed films and series and co-productions. “And we are just getting started,” he said.
The event in Berlin will include panels on three of Netflix’s most highly anticipated European series: the German thriller Dark, Italian mafia drama Suburra and period romancer Cable Girls from Spain. All three mark the first Netflix original series made in their respective territories.
Netflix scored a major coup with its first British original series, The Crown, starring Claire Foy as a young Queen Elizabeth II, but its first French-language original, Marseille, starring Gerard Depardieu, received mixed reviews. Netflix, however, is backing the show, announcing a second season for the Gallic political drama on Wednesday.
Foreign-language originals are becoming increasingly important to Netflix as it expands worldwide. Hastings has forecast that Netflix will “soon” cross the threshold of 100 million subscribers, with half of its audience outside the United States. Local content will be key if the streaming giant is to keep up the furious pace of its global expansion.
Hastings pointed to the European origins of Netflix’s original programming, noting that Netflix’s first-ever original series was the Norwegian co-production Lillyhammer and that its first global hit, House of Cards, was a remake of a hit U.K. series. In addition to feeding local audiences, Hastings noted that foreign-language series have helped grow international audiences for non-U.S. fare.
“Two thirds of viewing for European Netflix series is outside of Europe,” he said, “we are creating global audiences for great local productions.”
Hastings announced that Netflix would be adding Romanian- and Greek-language services to its European offerings later this year, bringing Netflix’s local offerings to 15 languages across Europe.
On the technical side, Hastings announced that Netflix has singed a deal with German cable provider Unity Media, which will see Unity Media carry Netflix on its digital set-top boxes in Germany. The deal follows similar cable carriage deals with the likes of European telcos Orange and Vodafone.
In addition to the European focus, the Netflix event will include a panel with Better Call Saul star Bob Odenkirk, who will discuss the upcoming third season of the Breaking Bad prequel with Sarandos and one with Katherine Langford and Dylan Minnette, stars of Netflix’s upcoming series 13 Reasons Why, based on Jay Asher’s 2007 YA novel.
There will also be a documentary panel with Brian McGinn (Amanda Knox), Tim Raue (Chef’s Table), Rashida Jones (Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On) and Laurent Bouzereau (Five Came Back); and a “She Rules” panel featuring Chelsea Handler, Orange is the New Black stars Langford and Minnette, and Britt Robertson, star of Netflix’s new series Girlboss, based on the the autobiography of the same on name Nasty Girl entrepreneur Sophia Amoruso.
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