Netflix’s “Squid Game” Increases Viewing of Dystopian Japanese Series “Alice in Borderland”

By Mark Schilling

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – The Japanese death game series “Alice in Borderland” had previously been a hit for Netflix. But, with the worldwide crossover triumph of the equally dystopian South Korean show “Squid Game”, the streaming giant seized the opportunity to make “Alice” a success once again.

Company executives gave attendees an overview of its algorithms and recommendation strategies at a seminar on Tuesday at TIFFCOM, the rights market attached to the Tokyo International Film Festival.

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Sakamoto Kaata, vice president in charge of Japanese content, said the company is looking for projects with the “3 Cs” of “content, choice and conversation.” These shows can be enjoyed anywhere and should generate positive word of mouth, with “social media being a primary source of interaction,” Sakamoto said.

Michael Smith, head of product innovation for Tokyo-based Netflix, said the company aims to tailor the viewing experience for each member. He cited “Alice” as an example. The 2020 sci-fi action series, which takes place in an abandoned Tokyo where drafted players take part in life and death games, is based on a blockbuster comic and is directed by the action specialist Sato Shinsuke. It launched on December 10, 2020 and reached Netflix’s top 10 in nearly 40 countries and territories.

“We customized the images and video illustrations [of ‘Alice’] we used for every member, “Smith said, in addition to dubbing and captioning the show in over 30 languages.” Some members saw it under ‘Japanese TV shows’, some discovered it under has presented it as part of “TV thrillers”, “Smith said.

After the launch of “Squid Game” in September 2021, Netflix cross-promoted “Alice”. “Squid Game” has an equally fatal premise and an action-packed storyline.

“We were delighted to see that many members who discovered and watched ‘Squid Game’ also started to experience ‘Alice’ for the first time,” Smith said. “Our service picked up that connection and started recommending ‘Alice’ to more members who had not yet seen the show.”

The result was what Smith describes as a “huge increase in overall visualization” for “Alice”. “It has returned to the top ten for series in more than fifty countries around the world, more than nine months after its initial launch,” he said.

But sometimes shows can defy algorithms and erupt in unexpected ways.

Smith admitted that the international success of the Korean romantic drama series “Crash Landing on You” came as a surprise. The show, about a female entrepreneur hosted by a North Korean man after crossing the border in a hang-gliding accident, was broadcast on Netflix from December 2019. It became an international hit even without prior marketing. at launch.

“It also shows that even without a formal marketing campaign or an existing integrated audience, films and series can become huge hits here in Asia and around the world,” Smith said.

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Marie A. Evans