According to entrepreneur Tariq Jalil, Netflix’s recent U.S. success with local language programming has broadened Americans’ palate for internationally produced shows so much so that Globi — a new advertising-based video on demand (AVOD) streaming service — is launching to directly compete with Netflix’s non-U.S. produced content.
Available worldwide Dec. 9, Globi will offer 600 hours of foreign-language content from over 20 countries. Approximately 60 film titles, including 2016 French-Russian ballet drama Polina, danser sa vie and the Spanish Penelope Cruz drama Ma Ma will be available to stream alongside 30 television shows including Sweden’s crime series Stockholm Requiem. Globi will be offered online at Globi.tv and via app on Apple TV, Roku, Samsung and Amazon Fire, as well as on Android and iOS mobile.
Jalil, who serves as Globi’s CEO, is well versed in foreign language entertainment. Since 2012 his Santa Monica-based production company, Intrigue Entertainment, has been acquiring the rights to foreign language television series and selling them to U.S. networks to remake for American audiences. In 2019, Intrigue had Einstein — an hour-long procedural drama based on a German series — in development at CBS, and in 2020 the production company sold the rights to the 2015 Russian series Quest (Квест) to NBC to turn into an English-language action thriller titled Escape.
“We’ve been looking at foreign TV shows before even Netflix was,” Jalil said. “We knew there was a business there and a viewership for those shows, but Netflix really helped blow the doors off of the stigma of subtitles.”
Since its September debut on Netflix, the dystopian South Korean series Squid Game has become the streaming services’ most-watched show ever. In fact, the nine-episode series drew a staggering 1.65 billion hours of viewing in its first 28 days of release. Along with Squid Game, the Spanish drama Money Heist and French series Lupin have also helped viewing of non-English content on Netflix increase significantly over the last year.
“We have just as high caliber of shows for people to discover on Globi,” said Jalil, who began forming the streaming service in 2019 to expand the cultured streaming experience.
“As idealistic as it sounds, I want there to be some cultural understanding and appreciation amongst all of us,” he said. “That is the ultimate goal. I don't know that a streaming platform can do it entirely, but that's certainly at least my goal and the impetus for me in launching Globi.”
But how will Globi, with just five executives including Jalil, compete with the juggernaut that is Netflix?
“There are a lot of things that Netflix misses quite frankly,” Jalil said. “Or they can’t acquire a project because it takes on a subject matter that is already a part of another show on Netflix. We are very good at knowing what Netflix has, and we're able to figure out what's available. And what’s available is oftentimes very high-quality, huge-budget television shows and movies. The prevailing thought out there is if Netflix passes on your show what do you do? Globi is a place that can say, ‘Hey. We can help monetize your content and get people to watch your content.’”
According to Jalil, approximately 50% of Globi’s content has never been anywhere in the world other than its origin country. He adds that the streaming service gives “deference” to films that have garnered festival wins or films that were selected to be part of festivals, “especially if it's Venice or Cannes.” But the benchmark for a title being selected to stream Globi is, according to Jalil, “whether we really truly love watching that particular show or movie.”
Content doesn’t have to be new to be featured on Globi. Polina, directed by Valérie Müller and Angelin Preljocaj, was an “Official Selection” at the 2016 Venice Film Festival, while Globi’s Embrace the Serpent, a drama made in Columbia, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2015.
Netflix is arguably Globi’s biggest competitor, but due to the new streaming service’s free, AVOD status, Jalil sees it differently.
“We're more like a brother or a sister,” he said. “Globi is a place that people can supplement their original, international content viewing.”
Globi will also be available in most countries around the world by the end of 2022.
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