Advanced Television

Research: UK least willing to watch foreign language content

November 13, 2020

Ampere’s Consumer media and entertainment tracker has found that consumers in English speaking markets are the least likely to enjoy foreign language content, with consumer preferences towards subtitled and dubbed content the lowest in the UK and South Africa.

In the UK, only 24 per cent of Internet users said they enjoyed watching subtitled content, and 15 per cent said they enjoyed dubbed content.

Although preferences vary by market, Ampere has identified that across all territories, younger viewers are more engaged with overseas content than older consumers. Broadly across all markets, 18-24-year-olds largely prefer watching subtitled content while older demographic groups are proportionally more in favour of dubbing than their younger peers.

Dubbed vs. subbed – Preferences vary

While local content remains important, significant proportions of consumers in most markets like to watch international content. Viewing preferences for subtitled, dubbed or original language vary considerably by market, and can generally be categorised into four groupings:

  • Anglophone markets: English speaking markets have the lowest proportion of consumers that enjoy watching subtitled or dubbed content. The UK, South Africa, Canada, Australia and US all significantly favour watching content in their local language. Markets with strong local content traditions, such as France and Japan, also show similar characteristics.
  • Markets where local content is enjoyed without a strong preference towards dubbing or subtitles: This includes India, Mexico and China, which have a higher proportion of consumers who enjoy subtitled and dubbed content.
  • Markets with a stronger preference towards dubbing: Germany, Italy, Spain, and Brazil display a marked preference for watching dubbed international content. Germany is the most extreme of these, with just 17 per cent of consumers enjoying subtitled content compared to the 44 per cent who enjoy watching dubbed content.
  • Markets with strong preference towards subtitles: Scandinavia and Netherlands have a very low proportion of consumers who enjoy dubbed content, much preferring subtitled or original language content.

Are the streaming giants meeting these demands?

In Netflix’s English-speaking markets, 100 per cent of its catalogue is subtitled. In the markets where consumers favour subtitling over dubbing such as Sweden and Netherlands, Netflix’s catalogue meets this demand with over 80% catalogue localised via subtitling. Turkey is an exception to this – Netflix subscribers over-index in terms of preference towards subtitled content but only 5 per cent Netflix’s catalogue has Turkish subtitles. In markets where dubbed content is preferred, only about 60 per cent of Netflix’s catalogue is available with audio in the local language.

Comparatively, Amazon Prime Video offers more local content in some of its major retail markets, and also provides higher rates of dubbing – with 70-80 per cent of its catalogue dubbed in some countries, such as France, Italy and Spain. This reflects consumer preference in these markets where dubbed content is enjoyed by more consumers than subtitling. However, in markets where subtitles are preferred such as Mexico and Netherlands, just 40-50 per cent of the catalogue has subtitled content. Like Netflix, Amazon’s catalogue in Turkey is particularly low in terms of dubbed content, contrasting to the strong demand for dubbed content in the market where 73 per cent of Amazon subscribers in Turkey enjoy dubbed content.

Lottie Towler, Senior Analyst at Ampere Analysis says: “Netflix and Amazon Prime video take distinctly different approaches to content localisation.  Amazon Prime Video offers higher rates of local content and dubbing in its key retail markets, including India, Germany and Japan. Meanwhile, Netflix relies on subtitling for localisation in the markets we analysed. In several cases, the most under-served markets for localisation are some of the biggest in terms of revenue – notably France, Spain and Germany, each of which showed preferences for dubbed content over subtitled. Targeting these key markets with more dubbed content would make international catalogues more accessible to consumers.”

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