Localisation of TV channels: viewing the bigger picture

Jon Try, vice-president of technology, Chello DMC, assesses the prospects for cross-border launches of local TV channels in Europe.

In Europe there is a great opportunity to exploit TV channels and brands across a wider audience. However with this opportunity come significant challenges, challenges that came to the fore at our ‘TV Without Boundaries’ debate on delivering localised channels in an international market held in Madrid recently.

Antena 3’s head of engineering Gonzalo Rielo summed up this outlook for the Spanish terrestrial broadcaster stating that they are no longer a TV group but a multimedia company that delivers content to viewers across countries and devices.

Traditionally the approach has been to launch a localised channel into a territory that speaks a common language, such as a US channel going pan-American. A number of channels have successfully evolved this way. Yet some channels, especially niche channels in the UK, have not made it into European markets. As operators demand more and more content across Europe, this is about to change for the better.

Indeed ONO’s head of TV operations Pablo de la Cruz revealed that they are constantly looking to evolve the Spanish cable platform and are due to add YouTube to the service in June.

The traditional growth has been the localisation of US channels into Europe and a number of UK channels have followed suit. The benefits are two fold,  a channel reach is extended to a new audience and  new advertising revenue streams are opened up.

Gonzalo explained that these benefits are key to Antena 3 that launched their international channel into France and Switzerland to capitalise on demand. Quite a few of the major production companies have started this process and many are well down this route. But there is the opportunity for others to follow.

If proof were needed on the importance of localisation in this process, ONO’s Pablo said half of suggestions made to the platform by viewers are about language tracks and subtitles demonstrating clear viewer demand.

Localisation needs to be approached with sensitivity to cultural differences.  Chello Multicanal’s CTO Rodolfo Garcia explained that they would never dub Martin Luther King for instance, as it’s important that people get to hear the original.

Historically companies have approached territories on a piece-meal basis, localising content per territory. The real gain comes in doing this once and keeping the content in a central place for use across many outlets and countries. By taking content, applying multiple languages, audio or subtitles, then choosing the optimum combination from a central access saves repeating the process many times.

With the explosion of smart TVs and tablet devices there has never been such an important time to centralise content localisation.

Wuaki TV’s head of marketing and sales Gorka Angulo said that their focus is to expand the movies on demand service on to new platforms including games consoles such as Xbox by the summer. This will open up the service to more users, reflecting the wider industry trend.

ONO’s Pablo agreed adding that, for them, the demand isn’t so much about new content but new ways to enjoy content. Looking retrospectively many channels have grown across territories solving problems one by one.

However at such a critical time in the explosion of internet TV services as an industry it is time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of localisation to get the most value out of content from a central resource across multiple territories and screens.

Competition in the TV market looks set to increase and as such channels need to take all of the advantages open to them, such as delivering fully localised channels across devices internationally.

Chello DMC, a provider of advanced playout and content management, is conducting a year-long, industry-wide initiative TV Without Boundaries to explore effective international TV channel strategies. The first event was held in Madrid on April 26 with the next debate to take place in Budapest in October. Visit or follow @ChelloDMC on Twitter for further information.

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