Is localization an alternative to globalization? Read more


How we watch our videos and TV shows has changed over the last couple of years. Right now, people do not want to follow TV schedules and wait the entire day for the half-an-hour window to watch their favourite TV shows or Super bowl commercials. People are all in for customized and personalized video binging experiences that Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu bring on to the table. Broadcasters are now facing a major shift of dynamics with subscription based cloud streaming platforms coming up with lucrative offers for viewers in all corners of the world.

What is the globalization of media?

The use of broadcast satellites, along with the deregulation of content has facilitated the evolution of the television industry from a state of internationalization in the 1960s, to that of multi-nationalization in the 1980s and finally to the state of globalization in the 1990s. Global broadcasting involves some of the leading broadcasters of the world including BBC World Service, CSBN and CNN reaching out to a multi-lingual, and multicultural audience across national borders. Globalization of broadcast makes a plethora of content available to a heterogeneous audience transcending the boundary of time, space and political boundaries.

Why is video localization a challenging task?

In 2018, over 90% of the global internet traffic comes from video browsing and online streaming. Online TV has not only become a trend, but a lifestyle for most working adults at this point. Even teenagers, who have school and extracurricular schedules, prefer these streaming platforms for watching the reruns of their favourite shows according to their convenience. The demanding work life, family life and general responsibilities have popularized the streaming platforms incredibly. Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu have garnered over 250 million subscribers around the world in total in the last few years. These cloud playout services are giving stiff competition to traditional broadcasting networks with increased flexibility and unrestricted access.

Why is today a time for globalization to give way to localization of content?

However, the globalization of content brings forth significant challenges for these cloud streaming services. The use of certain language, religious and cultural references, and certain names can be offensive for certain regions. Some popular TV shows are banned in certain parts of the world, although they are completely legal and all-age appropriate in the USA. One classic example is Thirteen Reasons Why. It has been banned by authorities in certain school districts of the US, while it streams without restrictions in most Asian countries. However, Doctor Who was banned in China in 2011 since it shows premises of time travel and is against the country’s laws.

Why is the coexistence of localization necessary during globalization?

Globalization has given way to an international community of consumers, who are interested in content of world-class standards. However, a country’s socio-political scenario does get a say in the appropriate nature of the video content being broadcast across the nation via the international broadcasting corporations. Sometimes, it is a matter of moral, cultural and religious grounds, while at other times; it is the matter of taste. That calls for accurate content localization according to geographical indicators. Sometimes, even sharing the same native language is not enough for getting clearance. One classic example is an episode of Peppa Pig that was banned in Australia because it showed children not to be scared of spiders, when, in fact, Australia is home to several venomous spider species.

What are some new demands localization brings to the table?

The challenges of content localization for global broadcasters are plenty. The top five concerns are –

  1. Modifying the language of the content
  2. Dealing with the red flags including sex and violence
  • Abiding by the legal limits
  1. Tracking the content of each show
  2. Creating smooth edits of the content

Modern cloud playout services provide translation of the content in a native or local language. It falls in the purview of the language service provider (LSP). When a there is a movie release or a new episode of a popular TV show, people expect to enjoy the same in their local language almost immediately. As a result, these broadcasters have to now create content in local content within record time, while preserving quality and accuracy.

How are the international broadcasters meeting with language localization needs of a country or state?

Most often, the broadcasters outsource their translation needs to off-site LSP agencies. However, that compromises the turnaround time, quality and delivery. Now, an increasing number of broadcasters are looking for cloud-based and integrated LSP as a SaaS part of the cloud infrastructure. So, whether the broadcasting company needs to localize a TV show, movie or a videogame playback, the cloud service provider can take care of the quality control. The scene-by-scene content check, compliance issues and language quality are all handled by the cloud playout platform provider.

Localization is not an alternative

Globalization is the international extension of thoughts, ideas, knowledge, ethics and technology. It overcomes several barriers including language, culture, religion and politics to reach new audiences in every corner of the world. Content localization is the subsequent step, where a piece of video content is modified according to local taste to suit the religious sentiments, political scenario and social norms of a state or country. Globalization is not the achievement of homogeneity, but localization is the inclusion of local trends that attempts at appropriating the content for localized consumption. Localization is not necessarily an alternative to globalization, but rather a successive step that updates the content quality for a specific group of the audience.


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