Are you a professional language translator? Netflix might be looking for you



Netflix is no longer a US-based DVD-rental company. It’s high ambitions saw the streaming giant scale up to global levels, expanding services to 190 more countries last year in January, including India . Ideally, expanding to newer countries would entail content in those countries’ local languages. For instance, Netflix launched in India last year with the announcement of an original series from India based on the novel, ‘Sacred Games.’ Now, even till 2013, the only languages Netflix supported was English, Portuguese and Spanish. Fast forward five years later, Netflix now supports more than 20 languages including Chinese, Korean, Arabic and Polish.

With its global positioning, Netflix now offers its original content with different subtitles depending on the region. “Our desire to delight members in “their” language, while staying true to creative intent and mindful of cultural nuances is important to ensure quality,” Netflix wrote in its blog.

That desire has entailed Netflix to continuously work with top-notch talents in translating its content to other foreign languages without compromising on the quality. Even till a fortnight back, there was no way to know how many high-quality translators were there for a particular language. There was no common registration through which an organisation could tap into professional media translators. No license numbers, neither any accreditations, nor any databases.

Netflix cited its own example of finding translators. “For instance, the number of working, professional Dutch subtitlers is estimated to be about 100 – 150 individuals worldwide. We know this through market research Netflix conducted during our launch in the Netherlands several years ago, but this is a very anecdotal “guesstimate” and the actual number remains unknown to the industry,” Netflix wrote.

The video-streaming company used to rely on third parties to source and manage localised efforts for its content. However, that method lacked consistencies and precision that Netflix needed. Every third party has its own way of recruiting, qualifying and assessing its translators and it became nearly impossible for Netflix to maintain a standard across all throughout the period the translator wishes to work with Netflix. Evaluating the quantity of H-numbers in a given language, Netflix can begin estimating the size of its resource pool more precisely and in turn estimate the time it would take to localise its libraries.

With HERMES rolling out, all subtitles on Netflix will carry a valid H-number. Over time, Netflix would be able to use the metrics to ‘recommend’ the best subtitler based on their past performance.

“Much like we recommend titles to our members, we aim to match our subtitlers in a similar way. Perhaps they consider themselves a horror aficionado, but they excel at subtitling romantic comedies – theoretically, we can make this match so they’re able to do their best quality work,” Netflix stated in its blog.

Since its roll out two weeks back, thousands of candidates across the world has taken the HERMES test covering all represented languages.

“This is incredible to us because of the impact it will ultimately have on our members as we focus on continually improving the quality of the subtitles on the service. We’re quickly approaching an inflection point where English won’t be the primary viewing experience on Netflix, and HERMES allows us to better vet the individuals doing this very important work so members can enjoy their favourite TV shows and movies in their language,” Netflix wrote.


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