Photo credit: YouTube
The Korean-language Netflix series Squid Game has become one of the streaming service’s most popular shows of all time thanks to the ability to subtitle or dub episodes in the viewer’s own language. Now similar technology is coming to the broader creator economy on YouTube. YouTube announced today that it is introducing support for multilingual audio tracks, which will allow creators to sync their new and existing videos and help them reach international audiences.
Not only does the feature benefit creators who may be able to connect with a wider audience, but it also helps YouTube itself as it expands the reach of the videos on its platform.
The company says the technology to support multilingual audio tracks was developed internally at YouTube, but creators must work directly with third-party dubbing providers to create their audio tracks. Once uploaded, viewers can select a different audio track from the same menu where they can currently adjust other settings such as subtitles or audio quality. It is up to the creator to choose which other language to support.
However, in early tests of the feature, which YouTube ran with a small group of creators, the feature was used on more than 3,500 videos uploaded in over 40 languages, YouTube says. Over 15% of the dubbed video’s watch time came from viewers who watched the video in a different language than the original recording in the past month. YouTube also says viewers watched over 2 million hours of synced videos daily on its platform in January alone.
Initially, the feature will only be supported by YouTube long-form content, but the company tells us that it’s already testing the feature on shorts as well.
With today’s launch, we understand that thousands more creators beyond the original test group will have access to the new functionality. The option to adjust a video’s audio track is now rolling out globally across YouTube, where it will be available on desktop, mobile, tablet and TV.
Renowned creator MrBeast (Jimmy Donaldson), who has 130 million subscribers worldwide, was among the early test group. He dubbed his 11 most popular videos in 11 languages to bring more international viewers to his channel. In an interview with YouTube’s Creator Insider, Donaldson explained why the feature was beneficial, noting that it was easier to upload multilingual audio tracks than it was to manage and maintain multiple separate foreign language channels.
“It’s a lot easier to run just one channel than 12… you have to create 12 different thumbnails. You must reply to comments on 12 and upload on 12. It’s so much easier to have it in one central place. And on top of that, it’s a lot easier for the fans,” Donaldson said. “Whether you’re in Mexico…[or] In India, all the dubs are in one place, in one video, so it’s also a lot easier for people to understand.”
Eligible creators who are granted access to the feature will be notified with an invitation offering them the opportunity to participate. Once they have access, they can use the new option in Creator Studio.
YouTube declined to share how it determined which creators were eligible or how many would be invited to this first expansion, saying only the number was in the “thousands.” It also didn’t say when the option would be generally available for more developers, but is working toward that goal.