• Television

Foreign Language Content on Streaming Platforms: A Look at the Importance of Diversity in Media

Foreign language content on streaming platforms has become increasingly popular in America, providing viewers with various options. According to media analytics firm Parrot Analytics, the demand for non-English-language TV shows in the US is rising. In Q3 2022, non-English language shows accounted for 8% of the need for streaming original content, up from 6% in Q1 2020.

Netflix dominates the market with eight out of 10 of the most popular non-English language shows, including the top two slots: Cyberpunk: Edgerunners (Japan) and Dark (Germany). Korean and Japanese language shows are top-rated, with seven out of the 10 top non-English-language shows in these languages. Two shows broke Netflix’s dominance: Disney+’s Summer Time Rendering (Japan) and Apple TV+’s Pachinko (mostly Korean language).


The UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report of 2022, compiled with financial support from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and other organizations, highlights the increase in diversity in the 2020-21 television season. However, the rise in representation did not extend to people of color’s being proportionately represented as leads or allocated episodic budgets as large as those afforded to their white male counterparts. Nevertheless, diverse audiences demand diverse television content, and in 2020-21, viewer engagement peaked for shows with casts that were predominantly minorities.

Streaming platforms have the potential to increase representation and break down barriers to entry. This is because they offer content from all over the world, including shows and movies that are not typically available on traditional English language networks. In this way, streaming platforms can provide a platform for content creators who might not otherwise have the opportunity to showcase their work.

While Netflix has a large selection of foreign language content, including popular shows and movies from Europe, South America, and Asia, Amazon Prime Video has less variety. Likewise, Disney+ and HBO Max have limited offerings of foreign language content, with most of their content being in English. However, there are plenty of smaller platforms that offer foreign language content, such as Funimation for anime fans, Magnolia for documentary lovers, Mubi for feature-length films, Viki for Korean drama and Asian content, Topic for foreign language movies, and Sundance Now for indie films and documentaries.

Some challenges still need to be addressed despite the benefits of accessing foreign language content on streaming platforms. For example, some venues may not offer subtitles or dubs in different languages, making it difficult for viewers who are not fluent in the language to understand the content. Additionally, licensing agreements can limit the availability of foreign language content in certain regions.

However, the popularity of streaming platforms and foreign language content is a testament to the importance of experiencing new perspectives and cultures in our increasingly connected world. Including diverse voices in media is essential, and streaming platforms can potentially lead the charge in breaking down barriers to entry and increasing representation for non-English language material. It is crucial to research and compare the offerings of different platforms to find the best options for viewers interested in experiencing different cultures and perspectives. In this ever-changing landscape of streaming platforms, it will be interesting to see how the offerings of foreign language content evolve and grow in the future.