Insights January 13, 2022

Poor localisation equals fewer viewers, says report

By Living Word

A new report on consumer viewing habits of localised content versions, released by the Entertainment Globalization Association, argues that a high number of people stop watching films and TV shows because of poor localisation.

Listen up streaming providers and film producers – according to the aforementioned report, which asked over 15,000 consumers from Italy, France, Germany and Spain questions about their viewing habits on streaming platforms, 61% of people encountered poor localisation quality on a monthly basis, while a whopping 65% stopped watching a TV show or film altogether because of poor localisation – the act of adapting content to a specific demographic of viewers.

“Localisation quality is part of the user experience, and switching off a single show might not seem like a big deal. However, when 30% of respondents are doing it monthly, that’s material and it hurts streamers’ brands in these markets,” said Chris Fetner, EGA’s managing director and former Netflix executive, who spent nearly a decade supporting the platform’s localisation efforts. Fetner continued: “When you go to a movie or watch a DVD, it’s not easy to connect the localisation experience to a specific entity. If it’s bad, do you blame the movie theater chain, or distributor? Do you even know who they are? It’s not the same when streaming; consumers have a monthly reminder of who’s responsible for their enjoyment.”

Time for filmmakers and producers to pay attention to the power of localisation

Localisation in subscription streaming services is still in its infancy, and due to the fact that subscription service consumers can easily switch between different films and shows on their chosen platform, without having to pay extra, they don’t feel it’s too bad to simply move on to the next piece of content when the localisation doesn’t suit their taste.

Interestingly, the report found that the majority of consumers expect investment in localisation to be far higher than it currently is. As international, foreign-language content becomes more widely available across the world, and hits such as Squid Game demonstrate how important correct translation and good localisation are, it might be time to up the budget to connect with audiences around the world.

In the past, filmmakers would primarily leave localisation to external companies, but as the direct impact on success of a show seems to be closely linked with localisation, this approach might not be appropriate any longer. “I imagine some filmmakers and actors will pay attention to this type of data as the global reception of their content becomes increasingly important, not just at the box office, but also in terms of the artistic perception of their work. Knowing their show or movie could be switched off by 60% of viewers for localisation issues could impact the perception of their success in a region and may lead to more interest in the localization process by creatives,” said Marlies Schortinghuis, EGA’s insights committee vice chair.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that localisation matters – not least in the film industry. While gaining deeper knowledge about this special field is important, it might be time for filmmakers and producers to also take a closer look at it.