Localisation Turns Local Success Into a Global Phenomenon

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How do big companies grow their business through localisation? Netflix is a shining example to learn from.

In 2016, Netflix rolled its services out simultaneously to 130 different countries. By 2018, it had a record number of subscribers at 117.6 million, with only 55 million from the US. Since then, it is offered in 190 different countries and now supports 24 different languages. It is beneficial from having such an incredible growth on an international scale, but it also means that it is a challenge to handle.

The challenge is to make sure its original content, such as the global smash Stranger Things, can travel well in different countries. Netflix had to ensure that the series could translate for different markets around the world.

How it Localises its Content

The company had to have a robust plan of action regarding localisation. The biggest challenge of all was trying to offer a linguistically and culturally relevant content. This is to enable them to get international subscribers for greater success and higher profits across their targeted markets.

It is not just how Netflix translates the content, but it is how they localise it as well. Their video localisation team relies on a specialist strings management tool known as The Global String Repository. Netflix collaborates with specially-curated vendors known as Netflix Preferred Vendors. Through the collaboration, they are able to produce all of the dubbing and subtitles for specific languages.

The expansion of Netflix, considering its coverage and number of titles they offer at any given time, they needed to find the best translators in the world. At the first stage, Netflix created a platform for testing translators, Hermes. It was built as a database of the best of the best translators and the company could hire them as a freelancer or in-house translator. Although the platform is now closed, it is interesting to note their approach to translation and how they achieved what they wanted.

Localisation Leading to Global Success

Netflix did not just get lucky. Everything done at Netflix has an exactness to it, a finely tuned science. From the AB testing and experimenting with positioning specific shows, to specific users from different parts of the world, the streaming giant got it all covered. By picking the best dubbing actors and not just settling depending on availability, dubbing is the right way to get the most authentic language and tone.

The Fascinating Key Names and Phrases Tool

Netflix has fascinating key names and phrases tools (wiki-style formats) to translate their content for various countries and the audience. Everyone involved in localisation, including the translators, PR and marketing, have to make sure all translations are consistent. Specific terms like the Demogorgon, from Stranger Things, need to be translated the same in each episode whenever being mentioned. Elite Asia builds a specific termbase for each translation project to ensure consistency and accuracy of the translation.

Clearly, Netflix has and continues to successfully use localisation to succeed on a global scale and other companies could learn from their example.

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