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A study from the Entertainment Globalization Association (EGA) has found that 61% of respondents in France, Italy, Germany and Spain have in the last year encountered poor localisation quality on a monthly basis, and perhaps more concerning, nearly 65% have stopped watching a movie or TV show as a result.
EGA localisation 5Nov2021
Working in part with Whip Media, the EGA surveyed over 15,000 consumers in the so-called FIGS countries regarding their viewing habits on streaming platforms. The EGA noted that localisation quality was a fundamental part of viewers’ user experience.

“Switching off a single show might not seem like a big deal. However, when 30% percent of respondents are doing it monthly, that’s material and it hurts streamers’ brands in these markets,” said Chris Fetner, EGA’s managing director and former Netflix executive who spent nearly a decade supporting their localisation efforts. “When you go to a movie or watch a DVD, it’s not easy to connect the localisation experience to a specific entity. If it’s bad, do you blame the movie theatre chain, or distributor? Do you even know who they are? It’s not the same when streaming; consumers have a monthly reminder of who’s responsible for their enjoyment.”

EGA noted that subscription streaming services have a much different localisation quality bar than other experiences, and it’s something the creative community is still getting its head around. Moreover, EGA added that unlike movies, DVDs, or even Transaction video-on-demand (TVOD) services, the barrier to entry for content can be much lower. It observed that consumers already have access to the content, so their sunk costs are pretty low; if they detect poor quality in localisation, it’s not that catastrophic to simply move on to the next choice. The association warned that while in isolation this did not seem so bad, but in the aggregate it could have long-lasting impacts on the brand associated with the platform.

“Streaming platforms are increasingly looking to have global hits like Squid Game; it’s what makes the scale of their platform appealing, so the fact that localisation quality can be a headwind in that aspiration is noteworthy,” remarked Matteo Natale, chair of EGA’s insights committee.

The EGA added that perhaps the most provocative finding in this study was consumers’ expectations around investment in the localisation process. On average, respondents wanted to see a significant portion of their streaming subscription fees dedicated to providing good quality localisation. This expectation was said to far outsize the current market investment in the process. Furthermore, this was seen as unrealistic even by the EGA membership. The EGA estimates that localisation costs are currently only a small fraction of content costs in the FIGS region.

“The allocation question is interesting; as an association for the globalisation industry. It would be easy to say, ‘see consumers want you to pay more for this’ but that’s not the point. It’s more about identifying how consumers value it,” added Fetner. “The survey didn’t get into the hundreds of compromises that impact all the decisions streamers have to make when operating in the FIGS countries.”

Another perspective provided by the EGA was the impact localisation can have on creative talent's ability to connect with audiences around the world. Shows like Squid Game and movies like Roma are finding worldwide audiences driven by global streaming platforms like Netflix.

While the report does not suggest immediate or long-term fixes to resolve the quality issue, it does hint at further research on the impact of localisation. The EGA’s Insights Committee said that it was already working on further analysis of the data, including deeper segmentation studies and follow-up inquiries with its sample panels. It will also be launching a similar research project in LATAM in the coming months.
“It would be easy to blame one stakeholder over another, but