Translation and streaming in a changing world

Jinsil Choi, Kyung Hye Kim and Jonathan Evans
Publication history
Table of contents

Much of this special issue was written during the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdowns in Europe and elsewhere. While it is still difficult to judge all of the effects that the pandemic has had, the accelerating changes to media space, in terms of the importance that streaming media came to have during the pandemic, are visible and tangible. The changes that have come from streaming media deconstruct and decentre how we produce, distribute, and consume media. Streaming services have increasingly overtaken satellite TV, particularly for the younger generation (Sweney 2022), and have further diversified. While over-the-top (OTT) media refers to the distribution of live streaming that requires an active internet connection, video-on-demand (VOD) is a broader term, referring to a service that allows users to watch pre-recorded media content as they want, which can be played back anytime (e.g., Netflix and Amazon Prime). VOD can further be divided into transactional VOD (TVOD), a streaming service where users pay per item watched (e.g., YouTube and Google Play Movies), subscription video-on-demand (SVOD), where users have to pay a set fee based on the subscription pack (e.g., Netflix), and advertising-supported video-on-demand (AVOD), which is completely free but users have to watch advertisements to access the content (e.g., YouTube). Such differences mean different translation services are preferred for each of these different forms. For example, translation services are provided in real-time for some forms of OTT, thus relying largely on machine translation (e.g., YouTube translation tools are provided by Google), whereas translations are either outsourced or done by the distributors for VOD content. Yet, VOD services are also increasingly adopting machine translation and post-editing or using templates to speed up the process (Mehta et al. 2020), often resulting in alienating audiences, as can be seen from the example of Netflix’s subtitles of Squid Game (BBC 2021; Groskop 2021).

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