How the streaming boom is transforming the Latin American dubbing market

Latin America is quickly making a name for itself as one of the world’s most exciting and competitive TV and entertainment markets.

Streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Pluto TV and Paramount+ have all launched in the region in recent years, while Discovery+ and Star+ debut later this year.

They are all targeting the more than 650 million people living in Latin America, as well as creating original content for over 60 million in the US Hispanic community.

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Streaming boom

According to Digital TV Research, Latin America will have an impressive 116 million SVOD subscriptions by 2025, up from the 53 million recorded at the end of 2020. Ad funded streamers (AVODs) such as Pluto TV and Roku are also proving popular with audiences.

“Streaming platforms have grown exponentially here due to the fact that they have become the cheapest way of entertaining the whole family,” says Magdalena Questa Millet, Managing Director of VSI Mexico City.

As in all territories where the global streamers have launched, domestic broadcasters have remained competitive by offering a wider array of content to viewers. The result is that consumers have more to watch than ever before, with an unprecedented selection of international programming now available alongside local content.

This, of course, has pushed up demand for localisation services, in particular dubbing. Within Latin America, audiences generally prefer lip-sync over subtitling when watching TV or films from different countries. In fact, there are seven major languages into which live action is routinely lip-sync dubbed: Latin American Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Castilian Spanish and Japanese. Given that two out of these seven are in Latin America, it’s a highly important region for localisation.

VSI LatAm growth

As demand for localisation services has grown, so too has VSI’s presence in the region.

Although the company has worked in Latin America for over 20 years, VSI’s 2019 acquisition of CIVISA MEDIA, the largest dubbing studio in Argentina, was its first step into the market.

Soon after, VSI set up a new dubbing operation in Mexico, building a major new facility from scratch, with a highly experienced team led by Magdalena Questa Millet, who has made a name for herself over the past 25 years working on the LAS dubs of some of the top theatrical movies and TV series.

Then, earlier this year, VSI acquired Vox Mundi, one of the largest and most highly respected studios in Brazil. Vox Mundi had worked with VSI for over six years before the acquisition, and was its preferred partner for Brazilian Portuguese thanks to the high quality of its service.

“Formalising our relationship with Vox Mundi allows us to further ensure consistent service levels across the entire VSI Group, so our clients can be confident of a uniformly excellent solution in Latin America,” says VSI Group Founder and CEO Norman Dawood.

As with all its global facilities, the VSI Group supports its Latin American teams with technology and systems, as well as centralised sales, marketing and other back-office functions. “We believe that the exchange of experiences and technology will contribute to our constant development,” says Armando Torres Jr., joint CEO of Sao Paulo-based Vox Mundi.

For Vox Mundi, VSI Mexico and VSI CIVISA, being part of the wider VSI Group also importantly allows them to offer their local clients access to localisation services in many languages.

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The pandemic impact

All of VSI’s Latin American studios say that demand for localisation has grown further during the Covid-19 pandemic. As elsewhere in the world, TV and entertainment viewing has increased as people stayed home during lockdowns.

“According to Kantar/Ibope research, the weekly consumption of streaming services by Brazilian audiences increased 320% during the pandemic,” points out Valvênio Martins, joint CEO of Vox Mundi.

Looking ahead, the volume of content passing through dubbing studios is predicted to rise still further as production worldwide ramps up sharply thanks to the successful introduction of Covid-19 safe-shooting protocols.

Going remote

All of VSI’s studios have adapted during the pandemic, embracing new technology to allow voice artists to work remotely, but Latin America has been one of the regions most affected by government mandated lockdowns. “We have been working 100% remotely with 24 rooms since April 2020,” says Guillermo Patiño-Mayer, CEO of VSI CIVISA in Argentina. “In the future, I’m quite sure we’ll be working in a hybrid way, with some people working remotely as well as in-house.”

Magdalena Questa Millet points out that remote recording has given dubbing studios easier access to star talent, and to a wider range of voice talent from across the continent. “The pandemic has changed the way of working and it will never fully go back to how it was before,” she says.

Looking ahead, while taking advantage of remote recording to offer more casting options, VSI is planning to build on its presence in Latin America by adding more recording rooms at all 3 locations. On-site recording by a talented creative team in professionally-constructed studios will always be the optimal way to deliver the finest results, securely and efficiently, particularly for lip-sync.

As the Latin American TV and entertainment market transforms, VSI is growing with it -  helping its clients to meet heightened demand for localised content throughout this dynamic region.