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Bingeing without borders

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Cable Girls (from Spain), Suburra (from Italy) and Ingobernable (from Spain) have been listed as some of the most binged shows in South Africa; proving that great storytelling transcends borders.

When stories from different countries, languages and cultures find a worldwide platform, where the only limitation is the creator’s imagination, then unique, yet universal, stories emerge that are embraced by a global audience. Access breaks down borders.

This according to Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer at Netflix, who says the most practical way to bring great content to the world is to make it available to the world.

“That’s why, since 2015, all Netflix Original Content is available in 190 countries globally. When a new title is launched, all 125 million members, from Kansas to Kuala Lumpur, can enjoy it simultaneously – and watch at whatever pace they prefer since most episodes are uploaded at once. By removing the borders of time or geography, Netflix has democratised entertainment and broke the mould on traditional content ‘windows’,” says Sarantos.

Shows such as Dark (Germany) and Black Mirror (UK), acclaimed by critics and viewers alike, have demonstrated that great content has the ability to resonate with consumers locally and globally.

In a showcase in Rome this week, Netflix announced 7 new shows coming to the slate that transcend language and location with the aim of bringing great local stories to a global audience.

○         Netflix’s first Dutch original series, created by production company Pupkin will launch in 2019. In the liberal city of Amsterdam, these Dutch students have it all: youth, wealth, sex, power…and the portal to a demonic world from the Dutch Golden Age they opened by accident.

○         Mortel (France). Mortel tells the story of teenagers bound together by a supernatural force. The series will be created by Frédéric Garcia and produced by Mandarin Television.

○         The Wave (Germany). The Wave is based on the hit movie THE WAVE and inspired by real events. Produced by Rat Pack in association with Sony Pictures Television Germany.

○         Luna Nera (Italy). An original genre series about women suspected of witchcraft in 17th century Italy, created by Francesca Manieri, Laura Paolucci and Tiziana Triana, and produced by Fandango.

○         La Casa de Papel Part 3 (Spain). After the global success of Part 1 and 2 of the Spanish heist sensation, the Professor will develop new heists that will be unveiled in 2019.

○         The English Game (UK). A six-part drama about the invention of football and how those involved in its creation reached across the class divide to establish the game as the world’s most popular sport.  Produced by 42 and written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes.

○         Turn Up Charlie (UK), a new Netflix original comedy series from the UK starring Idris Elba. The eight-part series is executive produced by Idris Elba and Gary Reich.

Kelly Luegenbiehl, Netflix VP Development, Local Originals summaries their approach to content, “Our strategy is not to make global content. In fact, we’ve seen that when studios try to make ‘global content’ using non-specific cities, generic styles and forced-English language dialogue than it serves no one. At Netflix, we’ve found that the more hyper-local we are then the stories naturally travel on their own because themes emerge that are universal to the human condition. Viewers don’t need to look or sound like a character to relate to them.”

Arts and Entertainment

The VPN path to Netflix

In January 2016, Netflix announced that they were expanding their global offerings. In one day, the company simultaneously launched in 130 new countries, bringing the total number of countries with access to the streaming service to 190.

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It was an announcement that was met with excitement; it meant that hundreds of countries that weren’t previously able to access any content from the streaming site would now have access. But it came with a catch: due to agreements with content owners, who license titles by region, not all Netflix libraries would be the same. So, while a multitude of countries now had access to the streaming service, content libraries could be extremely limited. For example, when Netflix launched in South Africa in 2016, users in the country only had access to 678 titles — a strong contrast to the then-U.S. library, which had over 5,600.

To get around limited content libraries, users took to using virtual private networks, or VPNs, which enable users to change their IP address to a different location, effectively tricking the streaming service into thinking they’re in a country with more titles. Shortly after the launch date, however, Netflix began clamping down on VPNs, implementing a VPN ban meant to stop users from circumventing the geo-blocks.

Today, two years after Netflix’s global expansion, users are still facing limited content libraries. According to Finder, in June of 2017 — more than a year after Netflix launched in South Africa — the country still didn’t have access to 93 percent of the titles in the United States. To access them, they now also have to get around the Netflix VPN ban, a tricky process that involves figuring out which VPN providers can still get access to the streaming site.

To help simplify the process, TheBestVPN tested 67 VPN providers to see which ones could still access Netflix, two years into the ban. View their findings, as well as an overview of the Netflix VPN ban and the best VPNs for accessing Netflix in 2018, in the full infographic below.

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Arts and Entertainment

Incredible animation landmark

The Walt Disney Company Africa is pleased to share that, in its sixth week of release, Disney•Pixar’s Incredibles 2 has become the biggest animated film of all time at the South African Box Office, with over R47.4 million and 676k attendances.

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Disney releases now account for 4 of the top 10 films of all time at the local Box Office, with 3 coming from 2018 alone, including Marvel Studios’ Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War in number 1 and 2 positions respectively and Disney•Pixar’s Incredibles 2filling the 8th position. The 2015 release of Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens currently sits in the 7th position.

Now in cinemas, Disney•Pixar’s Incredibles 2 sees Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) being called upon to lead a campaign to bring Supers back, while Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) navigates the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell), Dash (voice of Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack—whose superpowers are about to be discovered. Their mission is derailed, however, when a new villain emerges with a brilliant and dangerous plot that threatens everything. But the Parrs don’t shy away from a challenge, especially with Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) by their side. That’s what makes this family so Incredible. Incredibles 2 is written and directed by Brad Bird (“Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille”) and produced by John Walker (“The Incredibles,” “Tomorrowland”) and Nicole Grindle (“Sanjay’s Super Team” short, “Toy Story 3” associate producer).

Also in cinemas is Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and The Wasp, a new chapter featuring heroes with the astonishing ability to shrink. In the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang grapples with the consequences of his choices as both a Super Hero and a father. As he struggles to rebalance his home life with his responsibilities as Ant-Man, he’s confronted by Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym with an urgent new mission. Scott must once again put on the suit and learn to fight alongside The Wasp as the team works together to uncover secrets from the past. Ant-Man and The Wasp is directed by Peyton Reed and stars Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Tip “T.I.” Harris, David Dastmalchian, Hannah John-Kamen, Abby Ryder Fortson, Randall Park, with Michelle Pfeiffer, with Laurence Fishburne, and Michael Douglas. Kevin Feige and Stephen Broussard are producing, with Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Charles Newirth and Stan Lee serving as executive producers. Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd & Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari wrote the screenplay.

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