Blu Digital Group Adds to Localization Management Team

Blu Digital Group, a technology company that offers cloud-based software and digital media services to the global entertainment industry, has bolstered its localization management team in its recently acquired BDG Studios Barham (Hollywood) facility. Sebastian Zancanaro has been recruited to oversee the production facility and Luis Ferreira de Castro has been appointed to head the audio services department.

The two appointments help manage the hundreds of hours of localization work that is currently handled by the facility in 50-plus languages on a monthly basis, according to Blu Digital. Zancanaro has forged an extensive career as a creative dubbing director spanning a variety of genres in English, Portuguese and Spanish. Ferreira de Castro is an experienced audio and post-production executive, having worked as lead audio engineer at Central Post LA and Voxx Studios.

In May 2022, Blu Digital Group launched its English dubbing studio with the acquisition of Central Post LA (renamed BDG Studios Barham), an audio recording facility in Hollywood. The 4,000 square foot facility has enabled Blu Digital Group to significantly grow its localization services including:

  • English and foreign-language ADR, lip-sync dubbing, and voiceover recording;
  • English and foreign-language audio description;
  • editorial audio mixing and post work, including Dolby Atmos
    M&E augmentation;
  • audio conformance, compliance, and censorship;
  • complete English and foreign-language quality control services
  • video mastering; and
  • subtitling and captioning services in 80-plus languages.

 

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“Since acquiring the new facility in May this year we have been able to significantly grow our localization business, offering increased languages and services,” Silviu Epure, SVP of content globalization at Blu Digital Group, said in a statement. “What makes us different from other localization providers is our advanced technology offering, which includes our proprietary project management tool. This enables us to integrate the localization component into our existing digital media services offering to create a seamless workflow that takes clients from post production all the way through packaging and final delivery to platforms. This high level of work requires strong management, and adding Sebastian and Luis further bolsters our position as leaders in the provision of localization services around the world.”

Ampere: Netflix Primarily Dubs Content in Germany, France and Japan

With the majority of its subscribers outside the United States, Netflix’s ongoing strategy offering global content to local markets requires extensive dubbing and/or subtitle use.

New data from Ampere Analysis suggests Netflix opts to prioritize dubbed content in Japan, France and Germany, while focusing on subtitle use in smaller markets. In most non-English speaking territories, Netflix’s catalog comprises 90% foreign-language content, making localization, either through audio dubbing or subtitles, extremely important.

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Despite the SVOD pioneer’s pledge to make at least 30% of content in markets native, locally-produced titles still represent the minority of its content portfolio in all its markets, according to Ampere. This means Netflix has to rely on subtitling and dubbing for audiences in its many territories.

Indeed, the streamer largely uses subtitles in most markets, with dubbing representing less than 30% of Netflix’s foreign content.

“For Netflix, the level of localization of foreign language titles largely depends on the markets,” analyst Tingting Li said in a statement.

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In large markets like Japan, where local content is extremely important, over 40% of titles are dubbed and nearly every show has subtitles. Netflix’s dubbing is currently focused on the four largest EU markets — France, Germany, Italy, Spain — with 60% of foreign content in these territories is dubbed.

As the languages spoken in these markets cover multiple territories, investments in expensive dubbing processes can often be spread across other markets too — including Latin America, Africa & Canada, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland, among others.

These levels seen in the largest European markets are still typically lower than local SVOD competitors such as Maxdome (now Joyn) in Germany and Mediaset Infinity in Italy — both featuring almost 100% dubbed content.

Netflix’s catalog is typically larger than it competitors and its subtitling coverage is often superior, according to Ampere.

“In English-speaking countries, Netflix’s strategy is to localize foreign titles via English subtitles, while in other key markets, such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan, the streaming giant makes certain that most foreign titles are either subtitled or dubbed — catering to local content preferences,” Li said. “For other markets, such as Russia and Turkey, which represent a smaller portion of Netflix’s subscriber base, and thus harder to justify extensive localization investments, between 13% — 28% of content is localized — but we expect this to change as market penetration grows.”

For some markets, dubbing may be unnecessary — in Scandinavia, Netflix has low levels of dubbing coverage. But this is echoed by local Nordic players such as Viaplay, which has equally low levels of dubbing — and even lower levels of subtitling, partly because audiences in the region are used to watching English-language programming.

For English-speaking markets, local language content comprises 70% of titles. The remaining 30% are mostly subtitled, as in these markets, consumers are less accustomed to watching non-local content, and many of those consumers who watch foreign content prefer subtitles. The size of opportunity for audio dubbed content is thus minimal in these markets.

For French, German, Italian and Spanish-speaking markets, Ampere says around 90% of titles are foreign language, and dubbing is much more common. This is partly due to the scale of the markets, and partly due to the ubiquity of the languages themselves.

Ampere says that outside of Japan, India, South Korea and the Nordics, any markets that rely on other languages feature far lower levels of subtitling or audio dubbing, with many titles not featuring any localization at all.