IN THE THREE YEARS SINCE streaming giant Netflix entered the Philippines — alongside 90 other territories — in 2016, Filipinos have largely embraced streaming as a new way to consume content.
As the decade comes to a close, Netflix revealed the most popular releases of 2019 in the Philippines, a list which showed a propensity towards both local and Hollywood content.
On top of the Most Popular Releases of 2019 is Netflix’s own action-thriller, 6 Underground directed by Michael Bay and starring Ryan Reynolds. Despite being released on Dec. 13, it quickly became the most viewed title on the service.
It is important to note though than Netflix ranked the titles “by the number of accounts choosing to watch at least two minutes of a series, movie of special during its first 28 days on Netflix,” according to a release.
Following 6 Underground is Kyle Newachek’s crime-mystery film, Murder Mystery starring Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler.
At number three is Mikhael Red’s Eerie, a Filipino horror film starring Bea Alonzo.
Another Filipino entry is Miss Granny, directed by Joyce E. Bernal and starring Sarah Geronimo and Nova Villa. The film is the local adaptation of a 2014 Korean film of the same name.
On a separate list which includes only the most popular movie titles on the platform, 6 Underground, Murder Mystery, and Eerie held their places while Ang Babaeng Allergic sa Wifi (The Girl Allergic to Wifi) by Jun Lana occupied the ninth place. The film stars Sue Ramirez.
For series, Filipinos watched the newly released The Witcher, an action-fantasy series adapted from a book series of the same name by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski. The Witcher’s showrunner, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, and its lead actor, Henry Cavill, were in the Philippines in December for the show’s press tour.
Following The Witcher is the Korean drama Hotel del Luna, a dark fantasy-comedy series starring Lee Ji-eun and Yeo Jin-goo. Two other K-dramas made it to the list: historical horror Kingdom and romantic comedy Love Alarm.
Popular Netflix Originals also made it to the list: Umbrella Academy and Stranger Things.
“This lineup shows the quality, diversity, and variety of entertainment choices that Filipinos enjoyed on Netflix in 2019, from Filipino to Hollywood and Korean movies and shows, and across multiple genres including sci-fi fantasies, live action, romantic comedies, and more,” said the Netflix press release.
PHL CONTENT FOR FILIPINO VIEWERS
What this year’s list confirmed is the appetite of Filipinos for Philippine content, something local producers have long known.
“We chuckle among ourselves and say that Netflix is learning just now what we knew all along — that Filipinos, in their heart of hearts, are romantics and family people, and that will never change,” Olivia M. Lamasan, head of ABS-CBN Films, told BusinessWorld in an e-mail interview in December.
“Local content will always be a surefire and stable subscription magnet for Filipinos. No one can tell the Filipino experience more powerfully than Filipinos themselves,” she added.
Streaming services also extend the shelf lives of Filipino content as Vincent “Ting” Nebrida, President of TBA Studios, told BusinessWorld in a separate interview, saying that being on streaming platforms allow their titles to be viewed by more people across generations.
“Because in the end, we make films not only for the Filipinos of today but also future generations,” he said.
He added that they earn “substantial revenues” from streaming, though the biggest moneymaker still is a successful theatrical release.
Among the TBA Studios films currently on Netflix are Jerrold Tarog’s historical epics Heneral Luna and Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral.
But it must be noted that not all streaming contracts pay the same as a film producer who asked not to be identified said that some acquisition contracts entail a fixed amount.
“Sometimes, streaming services buy the rights for a title for a fixed amount — this means that we won’t earn royalties every time a user watches our film,” the producer said. — Zsarlene B. Chua