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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Content from abroad is boosting its share of the American entertainment diet, thanks in large part to streaming, the pandemic and the creator economy.

Why it matters:  "As 'American exceptionalism' has become less of a truth geopolitically, the same goes for entertainment," says Brad Grossman, founder and CEO of ZEITGUIDE.

Driving the news: The U.S. demand share for non-U.S. content was higher each quarter in 2020 than in the previous two years, according to data provided to Axios from Parrot Analytics, which measures demand for entertainment content

  • "This trend started in mid 2019, so it pre-dates COVID-19, but the strong upward trend has continued into 2020," says Wade Payson-Denney, an insights analyst at Parrot.
  • In Q3 2020, non-U.S. shows accounted for nearly 30% of demand in the U.S.
  • The data shows that U.S. audiences are discovering content from previously unfamiliar markets, like India, Spain and Turkey.

The top 5 international markets in the U.S. by Q4 2020 were the U.K. (8.3%), Japan (5.7%), Canada (3.2%), Korea (1.9%), and India (1.5%), per Parrot.

  • Demand for Indian shows stands out. Indian series went from having an almost negligible demand share in Q1 2018 (0.3%) to the 5th largest country at the end of 2020 (1.5% share). "Naagin," an Indian fantasy thriller series, was the top Indian show in the U.S. last year, with 16.7x the average demand.

Netflix has been a large catalyst for what Grossman calls "cultural diffusion," or the globalization of content across borders. Before Netflix's streaming dominance, studios often bought up rights to a foreign film or series so they could recreate it in an Americanized version.

  • Netflix has had to look abroad for growth as the U.S. becomes more saturated. Its investments in international content have influenced the entire industry.
  • "International gating has become rare," says Rex Sorgatz, a media consultant.

Be smart: The pandemic has put more pressure on streamers to feed antsy audiences in lockdown, especially those craving travel. With production limited or halted in some cases, TV networks and streamers looked to foreign content to deliver to U.S. audiences.

The big picture: The trend extends across all genres.

  • Music: "A growing number of the biggest pop stars in the world are from outside the traditional capitals of the continental U.S. and U.K.," Bloomberg's Lucas Shaw writes. "Of the 25 biggest pop stars in the month of January, 12 hailed from places that speak a language other than English," compared to just four last April.
  • Social: The rise of TikTok and other creator apps globally has helped to surface talent, particularly music artists, globally. Some of TikTok's most popular creators last year were from places like Mexico and India (before India banned the app).
  • Television: The makeup of U.S. TV series premieres (on traditional TV and streaming) from non-U.S. markets rose to 21.8% in 2020, up from 18.3% in 2019, per data from Diesel Labs, a content measurement platform. The most "imported" genres were drama, action and adventure.
  • Movies: Last year "Parasite," a South Korean black comedy thriller, won the award for Best Picture at the Oscars, becoming the first foreign language film to do so in the 92-year history of the Academy Awards. Netflix's "Roma" received 10 Oscar nominations the year before.

What to watch: "You're seeing this trend across cultures," says Snigdha Sur, founder of The Juggernaut, a subscription publication for South Asian stories and news.

  • Examples she cites include "Never Have I Ever," about the Indian American experience, which reached the top 10 in several countries, including India; and "Indian Matchmaking," focused on both the U.S. and Indian experience, which made it big in mainstream America.
  • A similar trend is playing out with U.K. content, although Sorgatz notes that the Brits seem to be a bit more guarded about licensing their shows. Still, the popularity of shows like "Bridgerton" and "The Crown" indicates the appetite for British-culture content in the States.
  • Grossman notes that many international hits in the U.S., like "I May Destroy You" and "Lupin," feature Black lead actors. Some domestic shows featuring Black performers or themes, like Ava Duvernay's “When They See Us,” are even more popular abroad than in the U.S., disproving the old Hollywood notion that films with Black characters wouldn't do well abroad.

The bottom line: "In the past, movies and celebrity culture have always been American cultural exports to the rest of the world," says Grossman. "If content succeeded here in the U.S., it had a better chance of succeeding internationally.  But successful entertainment no longer has to come from the U.S."

Go deeper

Updated 47 mins ago - Sports

The Olympic events to watch today

U.S. diver Krysten Palmer. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images

5 events to watch today...
  • 🏃 Track & Field: Watch the men’s 100m final at 8:50 a.m. ET on nbcolympics.com
  • 🏐 Men’s volleyball: USA plays Argentina in the group stage at 8:45 a.m. on NBC.
  • 🤸 Gymnastics event finals: Watch the replay of the men's floor exercise and pommel horse, as well as the women's vault and uneven bars starting at 9:30 p.m. on NBC.
  • 🤽Men's water polo: USA takes on Greece in group play at 10:30 p.m. ET on CNBC.
  • 🏊Women's springboard final: Watch the replay tonight on NBC.

In photos: Tokyo Olympics day 9 highlights

Team USA's Ryan Murphy, Zach Apple, Michael Andrew and Caeleb Dressel celebrate winning gold in the final of the men's 4x100m medley relay swimming event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre in Tokyo on Aug. 1. Photo: Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images

Day nine of the Tokyo Olympic Games Sunday saw the final day of swimming competition end with a historic win for Team USA.

The big picture: The U.S. men's 4x100-meter medley relay team set a new record world as they won the final and Caeleb Dressel earned a fifth gold — becoming the fifth American to do so. Team USA's Bobby Finke won the 1,500-meter freestyle.

Trump PACs raise over $82M for first half of 2021

Former President Trump during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Texas, on July 11. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Former President Trump's political action committees (PACs) raised more than $82 million in the first half of 2021, per Federal Election Commission filings published on Saturday.

Why it matters: It's a significant amount for a former president who's been banned from major social media platforms. It demonstrates his ability to raise huge sums of money should he choose to run for the presidency for a third time.