The Korean-language Netflix series “Squid Game” became 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 YouTube for the broader creator economy. YouTube announced today it’s rolling out support for multi-language audio tracks, which will allow creators to add dubbing to their new and existing videos, helping them to reach an international audience.
The feature doesn’t only benefit creators who may be able to connect with a broader audience, it also aids YouTube itself as it expands the reach of the videos on its platform.
The company says the technology to support multi-language audio tracks was built in-house at YouTube, but creators will need to partner directly with third-party dubbing providers to create their audio tracks. Once uploaded, viewers will be able to pick a different audio track from the same menu where they currently are able to adjust other settings like subtitles or audio quality. It’s up to the creator to choose which other language they want to support.
However, in early tests of the feature YouTube ran with a small group of creators, the feature had been used across more than 3,500 videos uploaded in over 40 languages, YouTube says. Over 15% of the dubbed videos’ watch time came from viewers who were watching the video in a different language from the original recording, as of last month. YouTube also says that in January alone, viewers watched over 2 million hours of dubbed videos daily on its platform.
Initially, the feature will be supported only on YouTube’s long-form content, but the company tells us it’s already testing the feature on Shorts, as well.
With today’s launch, thousands more creators beyond the original test group will now gain access to the new functionality, we understand. The option to adjust a video’s audio track, meanwhile, will be rolled out globally to all of YouTube, where it will be available across desktop, mobile, tablets and TVs.
Well-known creator MrBeast (Jimmy Donaldson) who has 130 million global subscribers, 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 it’s easier to upload multi-language audio tracks than to manage and maintain several separate foreign-language channels.
“It’s much easier to just run one channel than 12….you have to make 12 different thumbnails. You have to reply to comments on 12, upload on 12. It’s so much easier to have it in one central place. And on top of that, it’s a lot simpler for the fans,” Donaldson said. “Whether you’re in Mexico…[or] in India, all the dubs are in one place, on one video, so it’s also just a lot simpler for people to understand.”
Eligible creators who are gaining access to the feature will be notified with an invite offering them the chance to participate. Once they have access, they’ll be able to use the new option in Creator Studio.
YouTube declined to share how it was determining which creators were eligible or how many would be invited in this initial expansion, saying only the number was in the “thousands.” It also didn’t say when the option would be broadly available to more creators, but says it’s working toward that goal.