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Netflix revenue in Asia-Pacific nearly triples over two years to $1.5bn

Streaming giant highlights local content investment in Japan and South Korea

PALO ALTO, U.S. -- Netflix's Asia-Pacific revenue hit $1.5 billion in 2019, the U.S. streaming giant announced on Tuesday, nearly triple what it was two years ago as the company prioritizes the region as its next growth market.

"We're getting much smarter about the Asia Pacific markets in both the content we offer, as well as the pricing and packaging and bundling and distribution and payment methods to our members, so I think we're getting better [in the region] literally every quarter and every year," said Netflix CFO Spencer Neumann in the earnings call on Tuesday.

Although the Asia-Pacific region accounts for only 7.3 % of the company's total revenue, it has become the highest growth market for Netflix. The streaming service provider had more than 16 million paid subscribers in the region as of the end of December, up from 6.5 million in 2017 and 10.6 million in 2018.

As growth in its home market stalls and competition intensifies, Netflix has been stepping up expansion efforts in Asia.

The company recently acquired the rights to distribute 21 titles created by Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli in about 190 countries, including most of Asia. It also announced in November that South Korea's CJ ENM and subsidiary Studio Dragon will produce original Korean series for Netflix under a three-year partnership starting in 2020.

"Our original local content in Japan and [South] Korea, for example, has become much more sophisticated about what is super impactful in those countries," said Ted Sarandos, Netflix's chief content officer.

Sarandos said investing in content like the Japanese film "Naked Director" and South Korean series "Kingdom" paid off as they become major global hits. The company, he added, will explore producing more content originating from the region.

Netflix reported $5.5 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, up 31% year over year, bringing its total-full year revenue to over $20 billion.

Netflix shares were up over 2% in after-hours trading on Tuesday.

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