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Netflix in Japan: Tepid Demand for Originals, Data Indicates

Japan could be a tough market for Netflix to crack, if a new measurement system for gauging global demand for content is any indication.

The desire to watch original series there including “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards” pales in comparison to interest levels emanating from other markets the streaming service plans to add in the coming months, according to data provided exclusively to Variety by Parrot Analytics.

The Los Angeles-based firm susses out how receptive any market around the world is to new programming by monitoring an unprecedented range of digital indicators in advance of launch. Parrot scores a cumulative “demand rating” based on how active a program is in a particular region across social media, piracy, and a broad range of websites where video, photo, blogs and other expressions of fan affinity register.

With Netflix set to make its first Asia-region launch on Sept. 2, Japan finished either last or close to last when Parrot demand ratings are compared with other countries awaiting Netflix’s next entry, including Spain, Portugal and Italy (all slated for an October launch).

Orange is the New Black,” for instance, which demonstrated the most demand for a Netflix original series across the markets Parrot measured across a Aug. 3-16 period, drew a 73.11 rating in Spain, compared with a 56.05 rating in Japan. Japan also trailed the other three countries for “House of Cards,” “Bojack Horseman,” “Marco Polo,” and “Hemlock Grove.”

Italy was virtually tied with Japan in last for “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” but managed to top Italy for “Sense8.”

All this doesn’t necessarily mean Netflix is doomed in Japan; exported original content doesn’t necessarily have to be the primary lure for the service in the region. In addition, Netflix has signaled its intent to roll out an aggressive slate of local-targeted Japanese-language originals that should help compensate for any reluctance to embrace American shows, which could still win fans over in the long term.

Parrot’s ratings are intended to help programming buyers and sellers make informed decisions about valuing programming in markets they are considering entry. It could also prove a useful proxy for actual consumption data given big digital platforms are less than forthcoming about how many people are watching their content.

Parrot takes the total number of program-related expressions and weights them according to how significant the expression is; paying for content, for instance, counts more than just doing a search for the same content. The rating is calculated by taking the weighted total and applying it to the population of a given country so that a proportionate scale can be achieved across countries of different sizes.

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