Today, if you post a video in English, there are literally 6 billion non-English speakers that will most likely not want to watch it. Yet, a whopping 60% of all YouTube viewers do not speak English as a native language. So the international audience is there, but why is it that content translation is still a topic of discussion and not a hygiene factor on YouTube?
We know what you’re thinking- there is plenty of subtitled content out there and most content creators caption their videos in multiple languages. That is a great first step in trying to reach more international viewers, but actually research shows that people largely prefer to watch content in their own native language. This way they can multitask while watching without having to constantly read off of the screen or watch content on smaller devices.
So why do most content creators not dub their videos? The answer is quite simple and usually comes down to cost, time and consistency. The time and effort it takes to create multiple versions of the same video in different languages are sky high, while finding external resources can be expensive and not always reliable. Many bilingual creators we spoke with admit that they want to make videos in languages other than English but they just don’t have the time and energy to go through with it.
On the other hand, we have major global content producers like Discovery dubbing over 100,000 hours of content per year in EMEA region alone and employing over 55 different third-party providers based in those territories. If we look at Netflix, it currently dubs into 30+ languages, uses 125 facilities worldwide and has grown its investment in dubbing 25-35% per year for the past few years. Consumption of translated content on Netflix is growing even faster, at an average 120% annually.
We know what you’re thinking.. again :) These are premium content produced and they are of a completely different caliber than your average online content creator. We get it! But it still shows a strong indication of high demand for translated, and specifically dubbed, content. So assuming these media giants know a thing or two, shouldn’t we, semi-professional content creators, take note and try to dub our content to reach a wider international audience. Not convinced yet? Here are 3 reasons that might just change your mind:
A Simple Equation
The first reason is dead simple and can be better described like this:
Simply put, it’s a foolproof formula where the more content you translate, the more international views you will garner, which in turn will earn you more ad revenue on YouTube. Having said that, we all know how precarious and unpredictable YouTube’s ad revenue can be, and the best way to hedge for that, if you’re not a massive production powerhouse, is by localizing your existing content.
Also, don’t be misled by the seeming ubiquity of English. There are 1.1 billion speakers of Mandarin Chinese, 341 million Hindi speakers, and 527 million Spanish speakers worldwide, in addition to billions of other non-English speakers.1 Translating content into any of those languages will open the floodgates of audiences you never thought would be interested in your videos.
Efficiency is King
The second reason takes root in the beauty of repurposing content. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, every new video you release on your English-speaking channel gains 1 million views within a week. If you wanted to get 1 more million views that same week, you would need to produce an entirely new video and we all know how much work that requires. Instead, if you simply translate your original video into another language and release it, you’ve got yourself a potential 1 extra million of views in the same week, using the same piece of content.
Obviously, it isn’t easy to grow a brand new channel from scratch, especially if you’re targeting an audience whose preferences you know nothing about. Thankfully, at Papercup we have a team of channel management experts specialising in different non-English speaking markets, so I’ll just leave our contact here, for no particular reason, and move on to reason #3.
Being a Trendsetter
As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm, and you can be that bird if you choose to start dubbing your content. Looking at how many resources are becoming readily available to transcribe, translate, subtitle and dub digital content, it may appear like this trend has been around for a while (which it has, but not so much in the semi-professional content creation space that you and I are a part of), and there is no way to become an early adopter, which is not true. The fact that dubbing and subtitling services are now readily available make now the prime time to jump onto this bandwagon and pave the way for other content creators to take note.
Let’s say you start translating your content. Creators who watch your videos will become curious and excited by your success with non-English speaking audience and attempt the same, kickstarting an entire trend of localising digital content. And as a trailblazer, you’ll reap the most benefits by being amongst the first few who reach international viewers within your content category. So think fast, and don’t miss the opportunity to reach the Spanish or German or Japanese audiences who can’t wait to watch your awesome videos!
In the end, anyone who has ever invested a considerable amount of time into a YouTube channel knows that there are no guarantees that yet another of your crazy video ideas will become successful until you try it. Let’s be honest, nobody expected telenovelas to be popular in the middle east or K-dramas to be a hit in Latin America. Same goes for trying to reach new international audiences, and current localisation tools make it almost a risk free endeavour, so why not give it a try?