Netflix is a leading name in the world of online entertainment and, as of 2016, it is available in every country around the world except China, Crimea, North Korea and Syria.
With such astonishing global reach it’s hardly surprising that the traditional method of translating and subtitling content just doesn’t cut it for this international media force. In fact, this particular issue has become the company’s most notable obstacle, demanding the development of a brand new translation system.
We’ve explored how the Netflix experts both discovered and tackled this problem, and discussed how the brand’s innovative approach to translation could be applied to your business.
An obstacle of language
According to figures from AllFlicks.net, there are currently more than 5,000 titles in the Netflix media library and this number is only set to rise as the company pushes to spend another $6 billion on worldwide content in 2017 alone. With this volume of content and more on the way, Netflix’s success has required the company to overcome one key obstacle: Finding a way to launch a new show or film simultaneously around the world while providing accurate subtitles for dozens of local languages.
So what is the solution to this problem? It’s a good question, and one that the company’s translation experts faced when Netflix upped its languages five years ago from just English, Spanish and Portuguese to over 20 different tongues.
That number is expected to grow even further in the near future as the company’s subscriber numbers snowball. In fact, statistics show that subscriber numbers have risen from 28 million at the end of the second quarter of 2012 to over 100 million just five years later, making it more important than ever for the translation issue to be tackled.
Tackling the translation hurdle
Increasingly aware of the problem they faced, the experts at Netflix decided that their traditional method of outsourcing translation services to third-party teams would no longer suffice. At the beginning of 2017 the company announced that it was instead going to embrace a “Hollywood meets Silicon Valley” approach to overcoming the translation hurdle.
Enter Hermes, a proficiency test designed by the company to find caption translators who really understand the nuances of language. According to Netflix, Hermes tests translators’ ability to correctly translate not just the individual words, but the phrases, idioms and colloquialisms of the original language into the target language. In other words, the test is designed to create translations that are culturally accurate as well as grammatically on point.
Thousands of people have already completed the timed 80-minute test, which covers every language Netflix represents. Applicants then have to wait to be assigned an ‘H-number’, which represents their level of language skill, so the company can then determine what type of film or television show they can translate.
“Perhaps they consider themselves a horror aficionado, but they excel at subtitling romantic comedies – theoretically, we can make this match so they’re able to do their best quality work,” Netflix says.
Interestingly, this systemised quality control closely matches Bubbles Translation Services’ methodology. We always use native speakers that are perfectly matched to the translation challenge based on language proficiency and a blend of the sector and the type of translation required. So if you’re looking for the translation of an engineering technical document into French, we’d always use our Engineering graduate French translator and not a marketing or legal specialist.
What can your business learn from Netflix?
The creation of Hermes is an excellent example of how a company doesn’t just have to accept the options it’s presented with when it comes to pushing for success and international growth.
By developing their own solution to their translation challenge, Netflix has made sure it has a precise translation service of its own in place that perfectly meets its unique challenges. The result is content that’s more attractive to customers across the world – often in growing and less saturated markets.
What Netflix’s approach makes clear is the need for human translators who can identify and translate the nuances of language and local culture. It’s this human experience that creates seamless translation for local audiences.
When you outsource translation services to Bubbles, we will ensure your content receives a culturally precise, localised translation that highlights your dedication to embracing new markets. For businesses who are not investing £6 billion in new content, we’re also a lot cheaper than developing your own Hermes system!
Our dedication to the right translation builds trust from new customers unfamiliar with your business and may even mark the start of your regional success as word begins to spread.
In other words, if international growth is your goal, good translation services will be at the heart of everything you do.