Want to go international? Get local

TVT Media Press

Want to go international? Get local

Television and video is becoming an increasingly global business as broadcasters, studio owners and other content providers look to new markets for growth. The challenge for these operators is effectively versioning their content to adhere to local regulations, avoid cultural missteps and meet audience expectations.

This requires both art and science. While the science of content preparation – systems for workflow and media asset management – is vital, the art of versioning, which involves understanding the complexity of each new market and providing the local knowledge necessary to avoid pitfalls and win over local viewers, is absolutely critical.

It is abundantly clear that the age of global television brands is transforming the viewing marketplace across the world – and OTT TV and video revenue growth is driving much of this sweeping change. It is also obvious there are huge opportunities for broadcasters and video service operators who are prepared to invest in new frontiers for their content.

A recent study by Digital TV Research projects 35% revenue growth in the already-developed North American OTT market between 2016 and 2021, 88% in Europe, 129% in Latin America, 137% in Asia Pacific, and 292% in the Middle East and North Africa. The time is now for content owners and distributors to move into new markets to stake a claim to their share of this revenue.

Successfully making the leap to new markets requires highly skilled people with expertise spanning regulatory compliance, format versioning, craft editing and a host of other content management skills. Operators starting this journey need feet on the ground with longstanding experience in new markets to prepare content that meets local audience expectations in terms of quality, tone, translation, presentation and reflection of native values.

That means not just ensuring that language, adherence to local regulations and the length of each show are effectively processed; it means understanding the values, flow and creative vision that programme makers intend, and sustaining that in local versions. That is the true art of versioning.

Adept and smooth versioning of content that is turned around quickly can position a TV or video brand to build a strong following and reputation. But there are also inherent risks and big potential costs for operators that take a wrong step – especially for those going into new markets without detailed knowledge of cultural taboos, accepted TV norms and broadcast regulations.

Every region, country and culture has their own expectations around content elements such as sex, violence, religion, news, language and subtitles – and failure to miss any one of these can have a high price. Examples can vary widely: in Europe this might involve avoiding the use of the word “prick” pre-watershed in Ireland (where research shows it is deemed more offensive than “fuck”), excluding the word ‘God’ as an exclamation in Poland and reducing US-style product placement in the more restrictive European markets. On a global level, this could include censoring a tattoo on-screen in South Korea, avoiding the depiction of conspicuous drug use in a broadcast in Japan or ensuring the creation of a pork dish in a cookery show being reversioned for the middle east doesn’t focus on the pork.

For many operators that see globalisation of content as their future, the way forward is to is to tap into deep, scalable expertise in versioning TV content for international audiences – a team with the local knowledge and track record in dealing with the distinctive regulations and cultural sensitivities necessary to ensure their investments in new markets pay off.

To learn more about bringing content to new markets, download our whitepaper, The Art of the International Content Journey.