Advanced Television

Netflix: “Audiences embracing Asian unscripted shows”

September 5, 2023

In Asia, unscripted content has always been very popular, notes Netflix — and this is true for the growing slate of reality and variety shows on the streaming platform. In fact, three in four Netflix members in the APAC region tuned in to this genre last year. But for a long time, unscripted shows from Asian countries have struggled to gain traction beyond their domestic borders.

But things have changed. Netflix reports that recently Physical: 100 became the first Korean variety show to rank #1 in its Global Top 10 TV Show (non-English) category, securing a Top 10 listing in 82 countries – just one example of how unscripted shows from Asia are striking a chord with audiences worldwide.

Speaking at the APAC Unscripted Showcase in Seoul last month, Minyoung Kim, Vice President, Content (APAC ex-India), told the media that one of the driving forces behind this shift lies in the company’s investment in dubbing and subtitles. As a result, members from diverse cultural backgrounds and regions can discover and appreciate APAC titles. “We are continuously making efforts to make this possible through innovation in dubbing and subtitles,” she added.

In a blog post, Soo Hyun Song, Communications Manager at Netflix, explained: “To allow ample time for dubbing and subtitling, the entire season of a show is shot before its simultaneous worldwide release. This approach contrasts with the traditional way of shooting and editing very close to broadcast dates, leaving little room for the process of localisation for multiple languages.  This longer lead time not only facilitates dubbing and subtitling Netflix titles in multiple languages but also enables localisation teams to deliver high-quality translations.”

Localisation teams also face the challenge of translating large volumes of rapid-fire dialogues that characterise unscripted shows. Accurate translation is key to capturing the essence of these shows for a global audience.

Moreover, each cast member is consistently dubbed by the same voice actor throughout the series.

“Continuity and consistency is very important, so we want to make sure that the dubbed voice stays the same,” explained Yoo Ki-hwan, Director, Content (Korea) at the aforementioned showcase event.

Yoo Ki-hwan explained why each cast member is consistently dubbed by the same voice actor throughout an unscripted series.

“In addition to language-based localisations, we also emphasise visual and non-verbal details to make titles accessible to audiences worldwide […] Take Physical: 100, where a staggering 200 cameras captured the fleeting expressions on every contestant’s face. Similarly, on Korean romance reality show Single’s Inferno, it was crucial to record every subtle shift in body language as the contestants were quite demure, and did not even hold hands when they went on dates.”

“Korean audiences want to hear the conversations and observe little gestures to see how the contestant’s emotions evolve,” said Yoo Ki-hwan. “That’s what’s really important to them, and we always strive to please the local audiences first. If we satisfy their needs, then we can be loved elsewhere by global audiences drawn to the different cultural nuances in our shows.”

Categories: Articles, Content, Premium, VOD

Tags: , , , ,