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Dubs and subs/the cost-of-living: how are entertainment consumers reacting?

MESA’s 2023 event was certainly one for the books. Having rebranded this year from the Content Workflow Management Forum to the Innovation and Transformation Summit: Localisation, the summit saw numerous speakers take to the stage, including Futuresource’s James Duvall. As a Principal Analyst in Entertainment, we were delighted to see Duvall deliver insight from one of our most widely anticipated outputs: the Living with Digital survey, now in its 16th year.  

Duvall covered plenty of ground during his presentation. As well as relaying data on the impact of cost-of-living on consumer behaviour, Duvall also examined the increasing value of dubbing and subtitles within video entertainment. Let’s dive into some of the key takeaways from the presentation. 

Cost-of-living crisis continues to bite 

The ballooning cost-of-living has been a well-publicised global issue. In his presentation, Duvall made clear that audiences are continuing to tighten their belts in response to the crisis. Recent research from Futuresource Consulting shows key European markets like France, Germany, and the UK have been hit especially hard, with over 50% of consumers financially worse off than they were six months ago. 

Consumers have been driven to prioritise their entertainment spending, with bigger one-off expenses seeing reduced spend compared to the last twelve months. Eating out, cinema trips, as well as day trips and nights out are the areas that may see a softening during 2023, data showed.  

Despite the strain and ongoing pressures of the cost-of-living, entertainment remains an important fixture in everyday life. Our recent research shows consumers are still displaying an interest in increased SVoD service uptake, suggesting that consumers’ regard for video entertainment won’t disappear any time soon.   

Dubbing and subtitles prove more popular than ever  

Duvall also emphasised the increasing importance of dubbing and subtitles in the video entertainment landscape. 5 in every 10 viewers rated having dubbed content available as important/very important. For non-English speaking countries, this figure climbed to 6 in 10. 

There are several factors at play determining the rising importance of dubs and subs. Short-form video content from platforms like YouTube and social media is often viewed with subtitles, which can partly be attributed to the time and place short-form content is viewed. Duvall also pointed out that viewers are also far more likely to watch dubbed content on a smart TV. But for smartphones, tablets, and laptops, subtitles are the aid of choice.  

Another key factor at play is that diverse, global content is being increasingly commissioned and licensed by subscription services. The rise of Netflix’s award-winning show Squid Game, for example, demonstrated the popularity that foreign-language content holds in English-speaking countries. Marketing activity is increasing in this space, which is making consumers more aware of the volume of content available to them. This has the dual benefit of widening the market for international content and increasing the consumer’s perceived value for money that a service offers. 

In light of his presentation, James Duvall, Principal Analyst at Futuresource, said, “The localisation of content is breaking down some key barriers in the video landscape. Regardless of the original language of a movie or TV show, viewers can still access and enjoy the programme through dubs and subtitles, effectively increasing the number of available choices.” 

Entertainment’s wider state-of-play  

“It’s been great to share findings from Futuresource’s latest Living with Digital survey at this year’s ITS: Localisation! held by MESA,” said James Duvall. “We’ve been able to provide evidence on the entertainment landscape to aid those working hard within this space. The goal is to ensure that businesses will be able to substantiate the continued development and improvements across the supply chain and recruit the talent needed.” 

Caroline Baines, Senior Director of Client Services at MESA, also commented, ‘We were delighted that James was able to present at the ITS: Localisation event, this has traditionally been our most well attended event in Europe and this year saw record attendance. It’s having high calibre presenters like James which help make the event so successful. Our audience of content owners, academics, and technology and language service providers were treated to a packed presentation, which was full of fascinating insights into consumers viewing habits, their preferences for localised content and expert views on how the video landscape is expected to evolve.’    

Futuresource’s recently published Living with Digital survey provides a deep dive into the attitudes and behaviours of consumers surrounding entertainment. To enquire about this offering, please get in touch with Zak at

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James Duvall

About the author

James Duvall

James Duvall joined Futuresource as the Principal Analyst for Entertainment in November 2022. He is responsible for the delivery of all consumer research and projects across Home Entertainment, covering over twenty regions for Futuresource’s Video Insight reports, the bi-annual Living with Digital survey, and the bi-annual Music Streaming report. Before Futuresource, James spent six years leading the insight and research programme at the British Association of Screen Entertainment and the Digital Entertainment Group International (DEGI), building upon his wealth of experience within insight teams for US Studios.

Olivia Lowden

About the author

Olivia Lowden

Olivia Lowden is responsible for the long-form content, press, and partnerships at Futuresource. Prior to her career at Futuresource, she completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, demonstrative of her lifelong love of words.

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