Localisation is the Key to Success in the Expanding Kids’ TV market

Haymillian has helped many content owners distribute localised versions of popular animated children’s content across the globe. Some of our customers include Globe Edutainment, the founder of VIPO the Flying Dog, and the renowned kids channel, BabyTV.

It’s often said that “children’s programming is the glue” that keeps many homes subscribed to a particular service. Content for kids is certainly proving to be quite a lucrative business for the online streaming platforms who have all launched and continue to expand their children’s programming libraries. The business of kids is proving to be a “sticky” one indeed!  

At the end of February MIPBlog published a new and exclusive white paper from leading TMT analysts IHS Markit – “Children’s On Demand and Online Content.” The report identifies changes in the market and examines the strategies being put in place by new platforms and more traditional linear broadcasters. Data in the report highlights the rapid rise of the global online platforms Netflix and Amazon, along with their huge investment in children’s programming. But, as the report points out, the big three global channel brands remain present in billions of households across the globe: IHS Markit estimates that Cartoon Network was in 429 million homes at the end of 2016, compared to the 88 million streaming subscribers of Netflix at the same point.

Nevertheless, one cannot ignore that traditional kid’s TV channels are increasingly under pressure from the main online providers who continue to ramp up their investment in the production of original children’s programming. The past six months alone have seen several acquisitions in the kids animated content arena, and in many cases, rights have been purchased for territories where English is not the spoken word. Access to these foreign markets is highly dependent on the adaptation of the original storyline into a truly localised version that goes beyond simple language translation, retaining all the key messages.

From our hands-on experience, particularly in dubbing animation, we recommend that you ask the following questions when sourcing a localisation partner for content destined for an audience under 12 years of age:

1. Do they know the culture, values and customs specific to your target region, capable of adapting the original storyline accordingly?

From a very early age, kids absorb a lot from their favourite TV programmes, often learning what is considered good or bad while being introduced and initiated in the culture, morals and values of the world in which they live. During the foreign language versioning process, the original storyline and script must often be adapted to match the culture, customs, and values of each country in which the foreign language version will be distributed. Choosing your localisation partner should therefore be highly dependent on whether they fully understand and have in-depth local knowledge of the cultural, religious, political and moral practices in the target region. It’s also imperative that your localisation partner can produce an adaption that meets the above requirements while avoiding unnecessary or radical changes to the key educational messages conveyed in the original storyline.

2. Are they knowledgeable in the censorship and parental values practiced in the region the content is destined for?

Your localisation partner must be fully aware of parenting values in each of your target regions which can often differ depending on the cultural and religious values. Most countries have their own recommended television ratings in place, especially when for content destined for children under 12. What some countries consider as acceptable may be forbidden in another country. A broadcaster may also request further editions that they feel are necessary to match the expectations and desires of their unique audience.

3. Can the translation team find creative ways to express the original meaning of the script without losing the message, the humour, and so on?

When versioning content for kids, the appointed translation team needs to be highly creative and flexible. They will often have to think “outside the box” to find the perfect alternative to names, circumstances and character traits that will match the requirements of the destined region. At times, this can mean changing an entire scene such as those where religious & cultural practices are wound into the storyline. In general, localisation service providers are forbidden to showcase examples of their work, unless express authorisation has been given by their clients. However, you can ask them to provide you with examples where the creative talents of their translation team have been put to the test.  

4. Are the voice actors skilled and capable of conveying some of the hardest sounds that are common to cartoon characters?

Animation dubbing is one of the hardest and most demanding tasks for a voice actor for many reasons. It requires specific skills and high levels of energy to animate a character or an object and convey each of their distinct personalities. For kids’ content, it is also important that the voice-actor speaks in a voice that matches the young age of the target audience. Adding to that, the dubbing artist must have a voice flexible enough to convey some of the hardest sounds that are common to cartoon characters such as running, falling, kissing, chewing, grunting, fighting, kicking and screaming! Make sure that your localisation partner has a diverse pool of talented and experienced dubbing artists in their portfolio for the casting of the various roles.

5. Can they provide various output formats for multiplatform distribution?

Much of today’s content is delivered on multiple screens and through multiple distribution platforms, after all YouTube is one of the main platforms where kids watch their most loved cartoon characters. As the output delivery of each screen and platform varies, your localisation partner must provide the final versioned copy in each of your required formats.

Today, animated movies are recognised as providing a fun-filled entertainment experience to kids of all ages while holding the power to teach them some fundamental values in life such as letting go, friendship, responsibility, and so on. They have also proven to help children with learning disabilities who find it easier to understand and connect with a visual display rather than a book. In Ireland for example, kids programming is widely used by the Irish language broadcaster TG4 through their dedicated children’s brand Cúla4. In addition to original Irish language programmes, the broadcaster also dubs a number of popular UK and US animated programmes into Irish, helping children to learn their national language while being entertained.

What’s your line up of children’s programming for 2017 and onwards, and in what countries do you plan to distribute them in? Get in touch if you would like us to help you with your animation dubbing.

Related Reading:

Q&A with Svetlana Heneka, from Globe Edutainment, the founder of  the animated TV series, VIPO the Flying Dog: http://www.haymillianmedia.com/index.php/en/blog/141-client-corner-globe-edutainment

Localizing Kids’ Content - what you need to know: http://www.haymillianmedia.com/index.php/en/blog/155-localizing-kids-content-what-you-need-to-know

Behind the Scenes of Animation Dubbing: http://www.haymillianmedia.com/index.php/en/blog/142-behind-the-scenes-of-animation-dubbing

Localizing Multi-Platform Content for Kids Across the Globe: http://www.haymillianmedia.com/index.php/en/blog/156-localizing-multi-platform-content-for-kids-across-the-globe