With more users looking for content online (and recommendation engines suggesting things they might like), more programming is reaching faraway fans. As USA Today put it earlier this year, “TV viewers’ appetites are going global.” Almost 40 percent of YouTube’s U.S. audience is watching foreign content, according to an executive cited by the newspaper. And YouTube king Psy shows how readily global viewers are crossing borders with a mouse click. Increasingly, international programming or viewers, once the purview of startups like Viki.com, Crunchyroll.com and DramaFever.com, are becoming more significant for bigger players such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
Hulu, for instance, offers English-subtitled episodes of Hatufim, the Israeli drama that inspired Homeland, and thanks to an agreement with Saturday Night Live’s production company, makes SNL available in Japan just hours after it airs in the U.S. (a subtitled version comes online a few days later). Among other shows, last year Netflix started offering subtitled versions of Spiral, a popular French crime drama, and later this year it will introduce the Ricky Gervais show Derek to U.S. audiences. Pilots of Amazon’s new original programming are open to anyone from the U.S., U.K. and Germany for free. U.S. cable provider Comcast recently launched an online portal for customers to stream content from Asia Pacific. And Isabel, a historical fiction series from Spain, recently became available via DramaFever, a site backed in part by AMC Networks and Bertelsmann.
DramaFever and other smaller players are raising their profiles. For instance, anime-focused Crunchyroll now has an app on Samsung Smart TVs and Sony PlayStations. The appeal of international programming will only grow as more viewers (and their recommendation engines) find commonalities among programs from a range of cultures. As Hulu interim CEO Andy Forssell told USA Today, Americans are becoming more willing to experiment, thinking, “‘I don’t care about accents. I just want great storytelling.’”
Image credit: DramaFever.com