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Forward-looking: YouTube has been testing the ability to publish videos with multiple audio tracks for a while. However, YouTubers and other companies have already been using alternative methods to reach international audiences. As YouTube expands the feature, a multimillion-dollar dubbing industry has emerged.
Thousands of YouTube creators recently gained the ability to add multiple audio tracks to their videos as the service expands testing for the feature. Adding dubbed tracks in various languages should help content creators reach wider global audiences.
On videos with multiple audio tracks, viewers can click the gear icon in the bottom right corner to select their preferred audio, similar to selecting subtitle languages. Default audio will match a viewer's set tongue when available. Additionally, YouTube will provide translated video titles and descriptions.
YouTube began testing the feature in 2021. Late last year, the company expanded audio dubbing to India, starting with healthcare videos viewable in English, Hindi, Marathi, and Punjabi. MrBeast, one of YouTube's most successful creators, helped the company's testing process. The content creator posts videos dubbed in 11 languages with help from an external dubbing company specializing in YouTube videos.
Most YouTubers can't afford the services of traditional big-budget TV and film dubbing companies. Thus, startups have emerged that specifically target social media influencers wanting to expand their reach beyond their native languages. For example, Unilingo dubs videos for creators, including MrBeast, Dude Perfect, PewDiePie, and Jibilee.
Unilingo helps channels gain millions more viewers throughout Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. In an interview with Rest of the World, Unilingo's Farbod Mansorian estimated the company has helped earn creators an additional $10 million.
Not all content creators have had access to YouTube's new multiple-track feature due to a slow rollout. Some users have partnered with translation providers to dub and upload separate videos or create independent channels for each language. Even after YouTubers gain access to the new functionality, they could continue the old strategy because it can increase ad revenue and make videos easier to find for different communities.
Unofficial dubs are another factor to consider, with advantages and drawbacks. Although they can infringe on creators' copyrights when they draw ad revenue or sponsorships, they can propel the demand for official dubbing.