Why has dubbing become more important than ever to Netflix’s business?

In the past, dubbing was mostly associated with low-budget martial arts movies you’d find in the discount section of your local video store. These movies were poorly produced, and improperly translated. However, in the 1990s, this practice became unpopular. But, with the development of international streaming platforms with their increasingly global audience among different language-speaking regions, dubbing has had a resurgence.

For Netflix, getting the translation correct is more important than ever. It’s far simpler to engage viewers throughout the world if you communicate to them in their own language, which is what Netflix and other streaming services aim to do. According to the company’s research, popular shows are more successful when they are dubbed into the target language than when they are subtitled.

The Los Gatos, California-based business has made significant investments for content in foreign languages to appeal to an expanding global audience of 222 million customers while dealing with increasing competition and sluggish subscriber growth. The number of languages for which Netflix now offers subtitles has increased by around 30% in only two years. Dubbing becomes more crucial to Netflix’s business as this streaming giant estimates that dubbed video consumption on its platform is increasing at a pace of 120% yearly.

Netflix’s constant addition of new languages to the mix is fueling development in the dubbing industry globally. Seven million minutes of Netflix’s foreign language content were subtitled, and 5 million minutes were dubbed throughout the past year. According to the company, viewing of TV programs in dub climbed by 120% between 2020 and 2021. While most viewers claim they prefer to watch foreign content in the original languages with subtitles, according to Kelly Luegenbiehl (Netflix’s vice president for international originals), they will choose to watch the dubbed versions if given the option.

The rising popularity of Korean and other foreign-language dramas has been a major factor in the increase. When “Parasite” won the best film at the Academy Awards in 2020, interest in Korean content in Hollywood increased to new heights. And attracting more viewers has been significantly aided by dubbing. Netflix expects to publish at least 25 Korean-language films this year, up from 15 the year before, as the number of Korean-language movies watched on the platform climbed six fold between 2019 and 2021. The dystopian Korean series “Squid Game,” which gathered 1.65 billion viewing hours in its first 28 days, is Netflix’s most well-liked product to date. Over the Korean-language version voiced by its original cast, more people preferred to watch “Squid Game” in dub. English, French, Spanish, and German were some of the languages used for dubbing and subtitles in the film “All of Us Are Dead.” Most people choose to see the series dubbed, while there are other methods to watch it as well.

Dubbed programming makes more episodes and movies accessible to viewers who don’t like to read subtitles or aren’t able to do so as Netflix works to increase its foreign content. Back in 2015, when it was solely licensing movies and TV shows, Netflix started dubbing episodes. Today, Netflix offers dubbing in up to 34 languages and subtitles in as many as 37 languages.

Since premium drama is frequently included in localized programs nowadays, dubbing has had to advance to a higher level and expand its reach. To subtitle and dub its shows, Netflix collaborates with a network of partners. The number of members who work in dubbing and subtitling team has more than doubled over the past four years, and there are currently several dozens of them. As the only deal of its type between the union and a streaming service, in 2019, the company and SAG-AFTRA struck a contract that covers Spanish and English dubbing. They were able to recruit more new talent, and it helped them produce a tonne of new employment.

The dubbing process takes a lot of time and effort. The logistical challenges of dubbing in dozens of languages are significant. Several steps are involved in it. First, the translation process is put through where a literal translation into English is done post the transcription of the script. The translation’s fluency is then evaluated by a native English speaker while considering some of the idiomatic expressions of the non-English language. It may be necessary to make additional adjustments to the script so that the conversation and on-screen lip movements are in sync. The entire process of dubbing “All of Us Are Dead” in English, including casting and editing, took around three and a half months and used 55 voice actors.

However, it might be challenging to capture cultural nuances. For example, the translation of “Squid Game,” according to several reviewers, does not accurately convey the significance of honorific titles. According to Netflix, it is always working to enhance the procedure. A move that appears to have contributed to the rise of languages made accessible on the platform throughout that time period was the company’s appointment of Debra Chinn as director of international dubbing two years ago. The role of creative manager for English dubbing was also established by Netflix in April. Similar positions for other languages appear to be created in the future.

There is no indication that the trend will end. To accommodate the demand for localized content, Netflix presently collaborates with 125 locations throughout the globe. The emergence of global streaming has given people access to a much wider range of shows and films globally, which would have been unimaginable even ten years ago. It has also given a whole sector a boost that would have been impossible even five years ago.

Whatever the case is, the ultimate aspect of dubbing, in the end, is the accurate translation or transcription, which should be done by only experts.

As one of the leading post-production companies, DUBnSUB can handle all your dubbing requirements of animated films, commercials, eLearning, explainer videos, audiobooks, etc. according to the preferences of your target audience. For any requirement/queries, please contact [email protected] or give us a call. We will be more than happy to help!

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