The streaming land-grab is in full swing, with mergers and acquisitions leading the way in a "bullish" play for market domination (Slator). However, distributors face complications executing on strategy due to country-specific content mandates and AVOD and FAST platform prerequisites. Winning globally requires content optionality, a feature no longer just savvy but necessary.

An overview of the streaming land grab

The tide has begun to turn on streaming, with shrewd providers moving away from saturated home markets to focus on global distribution options. Bolstered by the success of international hits like Squid Game and Money Heist, companies like Netflix and Disney+ have announced long-term localization strategies in a bid to grow audiences across Latin American and Asian markets. Other players have amalgamated, with acquisitions of local FAST and AVOD platforms giving rise to what Slator has termed a language market "land grab".  

The focus on new markets has led to backlash from some countries, which have introduced mandates around local content production to ensure economic incentives and consumer satisfaction. In France, for example, 30% of all original content must now be produced locally (Financial Times). Players like Netflix, with huge budgets and influence, can and have treated this requirement as a numbers game, pumping more content and originals out into these locales. However, this response isn't possible for companies with fewer resources, and it risks further saturation and quality reduction - something countries are beginning to push against, too. 

FAST and AVOD providers have begun focussing on content quality as well, also in response to fears around content saturation. Many now require content to be fully localized with a dubbing option before they agree to stream or distribute media in a new locale. Companies, therefore, face a tension between the need to move fast to compete in a fierce land grab and the requirement for customized, appropriate local content. 

Winning in a global world requires optionality

With the amount of new and localized content pushed in territories like Latin America and Asia, smaller players must diversify and meet content optionality expectations to compete. The saturation of markets with new content means the viewing experience is more important than ever. 

It's already standard practice to consider device optionality and consumer viewing behavior when entering a new market. In emerging markets, for example, smartphones tend to be the primary viewing device instead of a laptop or connected TV. However, it's now necessary to follow through on these insights and consider the full implications of different viewing devices for those watching foreign content. Smartphones have smaller screens, are readily mobile, and are frequently used by those on commutes or multitasking. It makes sense, then, that a dubbing option is necessary when localizing content for markets predominantly using smartphones. (A recent survey by Papercup revealed people retain 50% more information when they watch dubbed content over content localized using subtitles). 

Increasingly optionality is a consumer expectation that you harm your chance of success by not offering. With the proliferation of choice, consumers are simply unwilling to engage with non-customized content, and distributors are wary about jeopardizing their reputation by hosting poorly adapted media. Given the increased attention on non-US audiences, brand reputation is becoming more relevant than ever. Therefore, distributor quality requirements will almost certainly continue growing. Avoiding optionality means risking lock-out exactly when you need to be making moves and dispersing your content

Proper localization doesn't have to be a headache

Content owners and distributors frequently avoid localization because of fears around expense or effort. Such confusion benefits the big players, which subsequently face less competition from localized content in new territories. However, customizing content for new global audiences can be surprisingly painless. AI solutions work well for content owners and distributors wanting access to wider audiences or to capitalize on opportunities before new markets reach content saturation. 

High-quality dubbing can be achieved inexpensively and with relative ease. Solutions like Papercup combine efficient AI automation with expert translator quality checks, even supporting the modification of voice, cadence, and tone for instructional or moderately expressive videos. At Papercup, we can also advise you on strategy and rollout and help you select which content to localize based on what we’ve seen perform in-market.

Papercup localizes videos and publishes them to the Sky News Spanish-language YouTube channel within a few hours. We also help curate their content offering. 

There's never been a more pressing time to take your content global. However, to truly make your mark, you should be shrewd and consider optionality at each distribution level. It'll improve your relationship with local partners and pull you to the front of a powerful market trend.