The big streamers, like Netflix, have been offering the dubbed version of their top-performing content for years, only serving to highlight this function's absence on YouTube. Until now. Video owners who have been calling for the feature for years need do so no more; quietly, the feature has landed and is appropriately named – multiple audio tracks.

For video owners and advertisers, the arrival of the feature is significant because it has the potential to dramatically increase audience sizes and engagement on single channels.

What are multiple audio tracks? 

True to their name – multiple language audio tracks enable more than one audio track to be uploaded to each video, so that audiences can select their preferred language when watching YouTube. The feature is part of a suite of accessibility features that were tested first with healthcare providers and hospitals in India and a select group of high profile creators like Mr. Beast, per a report in The Verge. YouTube is rolling out the multiple audio feature slowly, starting with those on which the feature was initially tested. 

YouTuber, Mr. Beast, in his video directing audiences to view dubbed content on his core English-speaking channel

The feature solves a key distribution challenge

YouTube has long supported multiple subtitle tracks in different languages for a single video, but in recent years, there has been a high demand for dubbed content driven by a mix of cultural expectation and wider shifts in viewing habits like dual-screening and precedents set by streaming services.  

Up to now, dubbed or re-versioned content on YouTube has been organized in a few different ways – laid out here – but generally, video owners have opted for separate language channels, as we currently do for Insider, Jamie Oliver and Bloomberg. There are pros to this approach – easy navigation for viewers and cross-promotion between channels, but there are great challenges too; namely the immense effort and resource required to build and manage multiple channels and the splitting of audiences between channels.

So, here are the 3 key benefits of multiple audio tracks 

  1. Monetization opportunities: Let’s not beat around the bush: a video viewable in multiple languages has a greater chance of reaching larger audiences, driving metrics that the YouTube algorithm (and advertisers) like – views and engagement – that drive up a channel’s cost per mille (CPM). With multiple languages on a channel, there’s a greater chance of reaching larger audiences, who are also more engaged because they can now view content in their preferred language.

  2. Reduced channel management: We already know companies and creators that choose to reach new audiences by localizing existing content need to upload two separate videos to two separate channels. With the roll out of multiple audio tracks, this will no longer be the case. Channel management is always essential, but doing it within a single channel makes it infinitely easier and less resource-heavy. Reduced channel management spend means greater overall profit.

  3. The channel's biggest stars are already looking to capitalise on multiple audio tracks: Mr Beast, YouTube's biggest global creator, with 116 million subscribers, uploaded a video on his Spanish channel asking viewers to now watch all videos published on his core English channel. Mr Beast’s Spanish channel amassed close to 3bn views in its short lifespan, but he (and YouTube) clearly believe in the value of pushing them to the watch on the core channel by selecting the Spanish dub.

How to localize video for YouTube

The multiple audio tracks feature has huge potential, but YouTube’s machine dubbing project, Aloud, can’t yet support the generation of new language audio at the scale or quality required. Making the most of YouTube’s multi-audio feature relies on the ability to consistently localize at scale, which is what we do for Bloomberg, Insider, Sky News and Jamie Oliver.

Using machine learning and natural language processing, Papercup produces expressively translated audio from the original audio. Unlike studio dubbing, it’s an affordable and accessible way for video owners to improve content accessibility and engagement. 

As multi-language audio is rolled out across key YouTube channels in the coming months, we predict a rush to produce dubbed audio that meets audience demand for the format and enables channel owners to reap the benefits. Getting ahead of the charge will pay dividends.

Try AI dubbing for yourself.