The FAST (Free ad-supported television) channel landscape has been growing at pace in the USA. The whole FAST industry generated $2.1 billion in the US in 2021 and is set to double that total in 2023.
It’s easy to understand why. From an audience perspective, in the USA, FAST is easily accessible and free at the point of use. This offers an attractive alternative to cable subscriptions which heavily dominate this market. For content owners, FAST channels can reach new audiences and offer new monetization opportunities.
With widespread growth of FAST channels outside of the USA, content owners are starting to look for new international opportunities and establish FAST partnerships in Europe. Now, with Germany and Brazil predicted to be the next largest global FAST regions, some of these international opportunities require a new approach to dubbing and localization solutions.
A case in point is ITV Studio’s recent requirement to localize 18 seasons of Hell’s Kitchen USA for their FAST channel launch in Germany.
An international hit
Hell’s Kitchen USA is one of ITV Studio’s most successful shows, with 21 seasons airing between 2005 and 2023. Internationally, the series has been syndicated in 25 territories including France, Russia, Lithuania, Belgium, Italy and Thailand. In Germany, Sat.1 commissioned a local version of the format in 2014, produced by ITV Studios Germany and hosted by Michelin-starred chef Frank Rosin. According to Parrot Analytics, Hell’s Kitchen USA has a higher audience demand than 99.6% of all reality titles in Germany.
With these stats, it’s clear to see why Hell’s Kitchen USA was one of the flagship programmes selected for their German FAST channel launch. They needed a long-tail localization strategy with a flexible partner.
A FAST approach to localization
ITV Studios is partnering with Take 1 to provide the Hell’s Kitchen USA German dubbing for their new German FAST channel launch. For this project, the Take 1 team is working collaboratively with ITV Studios to deliver high quality dubbing at a competitive price – using innovative and flexible workflows to drive down cost. For example: Take 1 secured ‘the German Gordon Ramsey’ as key voice talent for the dubbing project to maintain brand consistency in the region but is reducing talent costs by utilizing a small pool of actors to voice the full set of contestants across the seasons.
Similarly, the Take 1 team is taking advantage of the fact that voice-over dubbing is quite common in Germany. Unlike lip-synch dubbing, this technique keeps the original-language dialogue at very low levels under the translated voice-overs and requires less studio time for recording. In addition to dubbing services, Take 1 also provides forced-narrative subtitles to translate on-screen graphics or written content that isn’t explained in the narrative.
One area where Take 1 has no room for compromise is quality control. With FAST channel content often being drawn out of deep archives, where multiple versions of each episode may exist in a variety of formats, finding the correct version for a particular use can be challenging. However, with quality control checkpoints throughout Take 1’s process of subtitling, scripting, dubbing, post and layback, any issues are picked up and rectified before delivery.
“A great first dub commission between ITV Studios and Take 1, to localize the hugely successful Hell’s Kitchen USA into German and release it into the FAST world. Tremendous attention to detail was needed along the way due to some challenging legacy distribution assets, which ensured the best possible version is released in the market,” Said Darren Summers, Localization Manager ITV Studios.
An ongoing project
With eighteen series to dub, localizing Hell’s Kitchen USA for ITV Studio’s FAST channel in Germany is ongoing. No doubt, during this time we’ll see significant changes in the FAST channel approach as it matures. We’re excited to gain some early insights into how FAST is working internationally. It will be fascinating to learn which genres work well and which localization strategies are producing the highest ROIs. It’s clear that those working in the localization space will need to be disruptive and agile to meet these growing needs as the FAST sector evolves.
Get in touch to talk about localizing your FAST channel content.