Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

Would You Like Your Content With Or Without Subtitles?

Jonathan Blum

The entertainment industry is constantly changing. For those of us in the business, dealing with challenges is the new normal but, in the past, distribution of audiovisual products was more segmented. It was easy to locate your market and you could control the results although there were also more constraints.

Recently, a lot has been said about how people are changing the way they consume entertainment, the boom in Over The Top (OTT) platforms, increased competition among screens and how some content can overcome cultural barriers.

Parrot Analytics conducted a study of how content is consumed in several markets and how, it seems, we’re seeing the birth of products aimed at global audiences. They performed a survey in the U.S., Mexico, Germany and South Korea and asked participants what they had viewed the previous month and if the content was subtitled.

The findings were interesting, with the German market being the one less likely to watch subtitled series or films, followed by the U.S., where only 17 percent of viewers watched foreign language content. Further analysis is warranted though because the U.S. is culturally very diverse, which may be one of the reasons most audiovisual products consumed are in the original language. In South Korea and Mexico, the percentages were 36 percent and 44 percent, respectively making Mexico the market in which subtitled shows are more widely accepted.

Although subtitled products are not popular in the U.S. and Germany, it doesn’t mean foreign content isn’t watched. Perhaps dubbing works best in those two countries, or at least that’s what the study suggests.

In addition to showing us which countries watch subtitled content, the study delved into the audiences’ ages and revealed that young people in general prefer subtitled products, with the exception of Mexico where adults between the ages of 55 and 64 tend to watch more subtitled programming.

This gives us a snapshot of what happens when content is introduced to global audiences and it is not disappointing because it provides us with tools to increase our reach when distributing formats. In the case of the U.S. and German markets, there is an opportunity to win them over and perhaps in a few years those percentages, which are currently less than 20 percent, can be as high as those of Mexico.

For the time being, we now have more information as to where to begin and can possibly start to enter markets we had previously not imagined.