Netflix and its Rivals Want to Break the Language Barrier

Video-on-demand platforms, which are increasingly investing in local programs, rely on translation to succeed abroad.

The figure is often quoted by Netflix executives when they speak. At the end of March, in Los Angeles, he appeared in the center of a large map of the world projected behind Greg Peters, the director of the products of the giant video-on-demand subscription, during a press conference: 5%, the of the world population whose mother tongue is English. “Historically, the vast majority of international programs have been produced here in Hollywood, in English,” he says. And it is in this disconnect that we see a major opportunity. ”

With 190 countries covered and more than 30 languages ​​subtitled, the California leader in streaming has already launched its offensive on the remaining 95%. First, thanks to the global success of his American series, such as House of Cards or Orange is the New Black. Then, by investing heavily now in local content in Asia, the Middle East and especially in Europe, where Netflix will co-produce 153 original programs in 2019, compared to 80 last year. Amazon, its main rival, also passes the top speed on the Old Continent, and especially in France.

The challenge for these platforms is that these series, films and documentaries then find their audience beyond their country of origin and their diaspora, just like the international success of the Dark German Netflix series. , of which 90% of the audience was made abroad, the Brazilian 3%, or the Spanish La Casa de Papel, the most watched non-English series of the platform.

US users are a key target, as they account for 60 million of Netflix’s 149 million subscribers. Leave to shake their habits. “Before, dubbing did not exist in the United States. There were only American series and the few foreign series were aimed at a niche audience, a little brainy, “said Jean-Michel Ciszewski, director of international sales of Federation Entertainment, the producer of the series Netflix Marseille. The Nordic countries, too, have a habit of watching their programs in the original version subtitled, while in France, Germany or Italy, the dubbing tradition is much more established.