International streaming services saw incredible growth in 2021 as the world continued to contend with COVID-19. In 2022, the growth hasn’t stopped. But churn rates are increasing as the streaming services landscape becomes more saturated, especially in the US. Attracting new international subscribers – and keeping them – is crucial to maintaining market growth.
Streaming services are increasingly looking to international markets to grow their user bases. So the teams responsible for producing global streaming content face more pressure to deliver quality, quick-turnaround, multilingual creative to drive international engagement.
Whether companies offer streaming content for entertainment or learning – from video and music to games, eBooks, and audiobooks – the way platforms display cover art, title designs, descriptions, and reviews matters. It’s as critical to the user journey as the quality of the content itself.
Creative localization is key to the international user experience (UX). And increasing competition in the streaming services space makes the importance of an authentic and engaging UX all the more crucial in driving new subscriber rates and retention.
As with creative content of all types, whether linguistic or visual, traditional translation models often fall short. They can’t deliver the international UX necessary for lasting success.
Here are the top challenges international streaming services face in scaling international content effectively.
1. MEETING AGGRESSIVE CAMPAIGN/MARKET LAUNCH DEADLINES
Taking content catalogs into a new market is a huge effort, especially for streaming services that are early on in their global expansion journey. From new languages to local consumer preferences, market launches can uncover roadblocks and bottlenecks that established content localization processes don’t account for. Internal production teams often scramble to adapt without missing key milestones.
And localization often sits near the end of a go-to-market model. So any upstream delays mean that global content teams will inevitably be working with shorter turnaround times to produce localized creative – and handle unexpected issues.
Adding to that complexity is third-party curated content that may already have an established global presence. This calls for consistency of visual experience and language in-market while meeting platform specifications alongside original content with its own design brief. Getting localized UX right, regardless of content origin, is critical in building brand credibility and trust in an increasingly competitive streaming market. Teams overseeing creative localization workflows must often juggle competing priorities and deadlines while maintaining technical and visual standards, which can be difficult.
With these tight turnarounds, connecting the dots between localization partners (both in-house and external) and multiple creative agencies is a lot to manage. Often by necessity, localization efficiency (volume + speed) is prioritized over effectiveness (engagement + ROI). While this helps meet short-term goals in producing localized content at volume, it often comes at the expense of UX. And this, in turn, can undermine long-term success in that market, especially if competitors already have a foothold.
2. DEALING WITH PROCESS AND SYSTEM INEFFICIENCIES
The hybrid content model combines centralized content localization with decentralized, locally-managed creative production cycles, which is pretty typical in this sector. This means that international streaming services often rely on bespoke processes and tech for managing and localizing international creative. And with multiple internal stakeholders owning different content categories, production managers are frequently working independently against tight timelines to meet their specific content needs.
This can result in production chaos across the organization. Production turnarounds, creative and linguistic resourcing, file transfers, email request submissions, creative briefs, and text/description information. They’re usually handled in different ways on different teams. But as localization needs expand across streaming service platforms, these disparate manual processes aren’t just inefficient. They also introduce errors that can be detrimental to meeting launch deadlines and delivering on user expectations.
It’s challenging to optimize and scale creative production models to incorporate multilingual content that meets the same quality UX standards as domestic content. To do it well, creative talent should be combined with streamlined multistage processes. And software/tools must be customized to support those needs across the wide range of content assets involved.
Streaming services providers inherently understand that human design and linguistic talent are central to creative quality and engagement with in-market audiences. And traditional translation technology won’t deliver in a model where a locally authentic user and brand experience are crucial. By tailoring established processes that leverage human talent, teams can lower cost, decrease turnaround, and increase quality over time. And adding in a continual cycle of feedback and improvement that leverages local-market insights is critical.
Systems and technology can be used to automate repetitive tasks, reduce quality risk, and scale production. But they’re only as effective as the people managing them. Systems should be tailored to and refined based on the needs of people – not the other way around.
3. RELYING ON DOMESTIC AGENCIES FOR INTERNATIONAL CREATIVE
Relying on the domestic agencies that come up with the English-market visual experience is a reasonable thought process for production managers tasked with creating localized versions.
Domestic agencies often take on the task of adapting their designs for other languages. But their limited in-house resources make it hard to scale. And their lack of language and cultural expertise leads to designs that miss the mark with in-market audiences.
Visual experience expectations and trends vary considerably from market to market. Simply adapting cover art or an ad designed for the US market can result in dilution (or loss) of the creative intent and story, and mistreatment of key linguistic elements. When this happens, brand sentiment and user engagement suffer. And multiple rounds of revisions in the design process to address in-language quality issues become the norm. This ends up costing streaming service companies time and money.
Quality blunders that come from working with US resources to deliver international creative also cost many international streaming services users in key growth markets. All while putting production managers under considerable stress to meet international market launch and content update needs.
Whether manual or automated, in-house or agency-provided, the traditional “English-to-many” translation focus may churn out multilingual designs. But it doesn’t address locale-specific creative nuance in an increasingly competitive market. This ultimately results in stunted new subscriber rates and retention issues. More and more, companies are seeking scalable solutions for localized, international creative media. They often can’t get what they need from their US domestic creative agencies.
4. DELIVERING ON USER EXPERIENCE EXPECTATIONS
Aggressive deadlines, heavy manual processes or over-automation, ill-equipped creative resourcing. The biggest impact these challenges have is on UX. It’s always difficult to balance business pressures – like budget, resources, and time-to-market – with quality and local relevance. But providing a relevant, seamless local experience is crucial to the overall success of a streaming brand in-market.
Between global behemoths and local contenders, consumers have many options when it comes to international streaming services. A poor in-platform experience can turn users off. And in highly competitive markets, consumers can afford to be even more selective. A localized visual experience that feels even slightly irrelevant can be enough for them to jump ship.
So it’s crucial – no matter what challenges a streaming brand faces – to deliver an excellent user experience. If a company’s global ambition outpaces its ability to deliver on quality UX, the damage to the brand in a market can be irreversible.
The streaming industry moves fast. To keep up with demand across markets, international teams need to mobilize people, processes, and technology, ensuring that localized creative is effective in meeting global business, growth, and UX goals.
There is no out-of-the-box solution for localizing creative at the scale and quality international streaming companies need. But with the right tools and partners in place, they can find the sweet spot where budget, turnaround, and international engagement align – for every market, and for every launch.
Struggling to find a creative localization partner that can keep up with your growth goals? Or need advice on optimizing your media production workflow? Get in touch – we’d love to help.