ROVINJ, CROATIA — Streaming giants looking to grow overseas are shelling out billions of dollars to local content producers, fueling a new production economy all over the world.
Why it matters: Companies like Amazon and Netflix need local languages and storylines that are native to the regions where they need to win over subscription budgets. They can't do that from Hollywood.
The rush to create localized content is being felt particularly in countries like Croatia, Serbia, and other parts of what was formerly Yugoslavia.
- Once a bastion for Hollywood film production prior to the Yugoslav Wars, the region still has resources and expertise in production that new Hollywood giants are flocking to, says Nebojša Taraba, a Croatian producer whose hit Croatian TV series "The Paper,” was acquired by Netflix last year and became a global success.
- HBO came to the region in 2016 when its European arm launched HBO Adria, a premium cable channel serving countries like Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Macedonia.
The promise of local content investment was the center of focus at "The Weekend" Media Festival in Croatia this past weekend, where thousands of producers, editors and media professionals from the region gathered to talk about streaming and local content.
- Yes, but: The influx of cash to the region isn't occurring without some drama. Local telecom companies and TV networks are struggling to compete with the influx of money being poured into rivals by outside groups and private equity giants. Tension was visible during one of the panels at the event.
Be smart: The popularity of shows shot in the region, like Game of Thrones, has further lured Hollywood giants to the area.
- Large tax incentives — as well as scenic backdrops and cheap labor — also help drive interest of Hollywood heavyweights to the region.
Between the lines: Regions all over the world are experiencing similar demand.
- In Latin America, former Univision Chief Content Officer Isaac Lee and several of his former colleagues have launched Exile Content, a Mexico City-based production company that's producing content for big streamers in Latin America and Spain.