Netflix Rules Over International Content in Hollywood, and It’s Only Getting Bigger

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The streamer known for South Korea’s “Squid Game” has been investing in overseas content for more than a decade, but “Narcos” set the stage

Netflix co-CEOs Ted Sarandos and Greg Peters have charted the streaming company's dominant international strategy. (Chris Smith)

In 2015, a crime drama about the rise of international drug cartels, filmed in Colombia in both English and Spanish and starring Brazilian actor Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar, seemed like a risky play for Netflix, which had only started producing original content four years earlier.

But despite the bilingual dialogue — and a mishmash of local accents that were ridiculed by Colombians — “Narcos,” with an estimated budget of $25 million, turned into a critical hit and became a cornerstone in an emerging global strategy that has made Netflix the undisputed leader overseas, both in original productions and subscribers. 

While its rivals, including Disney and Warner Bros.


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