JBI Studios' Blog on Voice-Over, Dubbing, and Multimedia Localization.

What You Must Know About Usage for Online Video Voice-Over & Dubbing

Audio and video multimedia has largely moved online, and the trend is not abating. That means that usage – where a video will play, and for how long – is now a factor in voice-over and dubbing projects for online content. These days anyone who works in multimedia localization must have a basic understanding of usage, and how it affects audio production budgets.

This post will list the four things you must know about usage for online video localization projects.

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What exactly is usage for voice-over and dubbing?

Usage – where and how a video will play, and for how long – is one of the determining factors when pricing the foreign-language voice and dubbing fees for a video project. Why?  Because talents command higher prices for videos that have higher profiles, or that get more “eyeballs,” to use the expression common in the marketing and entertainment industries.

This is a somewhat new development for online videos since they haven’t generally had the same number of viewers as feature films, broadcast/cable TV shows and commercials. But that’s all changed. A huge amount of entertainment content has moved online, and so have the marketing materials around it – so much so that worldwide online marketing spend is quickly overtaking TV adspend, per Zenith Media, an online media consulting group affiliated with Publicis Media. Because online videos can now have a much higher profile, usage is a budget consideration for VO costs for just about every type of content, including online marketing spots, how-to videos, web series, and films or TV shows getting streaming (OTT) distribution.

So what do multimedia localization professionals need to know about usage, especially for project budgets? Let’s jump right in.

1. Online video can get as many eyeballs as broadcast content.

Viewing habits have shifted dramatically in the US and around the world. Streaming on YouTube, Vimeo, Netflix, Hulu and channel-specific apps commands a significant share of viewers, though it’s impossible to get exact numbers. That means that dubbing for films and shows on these platforms can require usage fees similar to those for in-country theatrical and broadcast releases. Same for commercials – online marketing videos can actually get more eyeballs than broadcast TV spots, depending on their exact usage.


This single fact encapsulates why usage is critical to pricing online video localization.

2. Don’t forget internet radio.

The focus of this post is on video because it’s the largest segment of online media, and the fastest-growing one as well. But it’s good to remember that internet radio also gets a lot of exposure, as do the ads around it – anyone who streams the free versions of Pandora and Spotify is familiar with them. Also, keep in mind that radio generally opts for transcreation over localization – that’s another pricing factor, one which also affects timelines significantly.

3. Be aware of potential content re-use.

You may have a client who needs to re-purpose a VO track. For example, let’s say you’ve recorded Spanish lip-sync dubbing for an e-Learning scenario. That would be priced according to an e-Learning voice-over usage. But, a month later your client decides they want to advertise the Spanish version of their course with a video promoted on social media, and which features a short sample of the Spanish voiceover that you recorded. That changes the VO’s usage, and potentially the project budget. This isn’t terribly common, but it’s important to know about.

4. Usage doesn’t affect captioning and subtitling in the same way.

Since usage is driven by talent and voiceover studio fees primarily, it doesn’t come into play in subtitling localization projects. However, remember that entertainment and marketing content is trickier to subtitle, and requires high-quality marketing translation – these factors alone affect pricing and timelines.

Get usage for online video localization projects at the quoting stage

If your client doesn’t know where exactly their video will play, or for how long, you can define it during the quoting stage, to provide parameters for a budget. Of course, make sure that you use an audio and post-production vendor with expertise quoting for usage, like JBI Studios. One of our consulting producers can help you through this process, which can be tricky to navigate, but which must be done correctly. This is the only way to get an accurate project budget and to ensure that there aren’t any “surprises” during production – or worse yet, once the video content is live.

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Topics: Voice-over & Audio Dubbing Video Translation

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