Podcasting is becoming a global phenomenon, with listeners around the world tuning in to both imported and homegrown shows. To capitalise on this global growth, many companies are expanding their operations across multiple territories, and reaching into new markets.
One approach to this is simply to acquire smaller studios within a local market and add their content to your wider portfolio, but another option that’s increasingly being explored is taking podcasts that are already successful in one language and translating them into another.
This tactic has been employed to great success by podcast platform Podimo, which translated its Nordic true-crime hit Murder In The North from its original Danish into multiple languages. Rhianna Dhillon and Matt Hill sat down with Jake Chudnow, Podimo’s global content and partnerships lead, to discuss the benefits of this strategy, and why AI still can’t be trusted with full translations.
Translation is about more than words
“You're not just translating text of a script,” Chudnow says, “you're translating the original creative vision and emotional impact of a story. So the initial process of translation, it's not cheap. But I think where we ended up spending the most time is ensuring that the original creative intent of the words was translated as well.”
“I am really interested in how technology like AI, for example, will shape the translation industry in the future. But we are a very people-focused operation, partially for some of the reasons I just mentioned. If there was a step that we could use software, it would be in that initial translation, but even with that we've used real people in all of our translations.”
Partnering is important
“I think there's a great opportunity in the UK in terms of the quality of creation in the country and our potential partners to make great work; in terms of the number of listeners, both by pure number compared to the size of other European markets, but also by percentage of the population. And there's a really rich history of creating audio in the country.”
“When we eventually do launch our app in the UK, it will be an app that should celebrate creators and production companies, and highlight all different types of voices and producers. So it felt really important to us, in the way that we message these shows, that these are shows from Podimo and partner, not just from Podimo, as a way to celebrate the industry and the quality of production in the UK.”
Certain topics are more translatable than others
“We've seen our greatest success in true crime,” Chudnow explains, “partially because we've been successful in true crime, we continue translating true crime. I'd like to expand beyond that. And we have expanded a bit into the knowledge space, we have a show called - the English translation would be close to 'Understand in 10 Minutes'. It's a 10-minute show, each episode is a different topic. And yeah, that's translated, with relative success, across a number of our markets.”
“I think other genres where there would be that potential would be history, for example. I think once you're edging into territory where personality becomes a really important part of the message, like comedy, that's where we haven't tried translating as much.”