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Global Streaming Wars Prompt Dubbing Industry Merger

Two of the world’s biggest localization providers are merging: London-based BTI Studios and Singapore-based Iyuno Media Group announced Thursday that they are joining forces to better address the needs of an entertainment industry increasingly looking to stream their programming to consumers around the globe.

The combined company will be known as Iyuno Media Group, and will be headquartered in London. Former BTI Studios CEO Shaun Gregory will be heading the company as its chief executive, while IYUNO Media Group founder and former CEO David Lee will step into the executive chairman role.

The new company, which claims to be the world’s biggest provider of localization services, will be backed by Shamrock Capital, Altor and SoftBank Ventures Asia; financial details of the transaction weren’t disclosed.

The merger coincides with a big sea change for Hollywood, which is increasingly looking to directly distribute its films and TV shows to global audiences, prompting a need for more dubbing on tighter schedules. Netflix, for instance, localizes content for its nearly 152 million subscribers into 31 languages.

Apple announced this week that it would bring its Apple TV Plus service to 100 countries in November (the company has yet to detail its localization strategy), and Disney is looking to quickly launch its upcoming Disney Plus service in additional territories as well.

In the past, media companies often relied on a patchwork of local dubbing providers to target audiences in different languages, which made it harder to orchestrate global simultaneous launches. “The current media localization industry’s fragmented, manual and non-systematic approaches are outdated and inefficient,” said Lee. “Clients need a better solution.”

The new Iyuno Media Group will have 40 facilities across 30 countries. Together, both companies have already dubbed over 100,000 hours of content, and subtitled another 300,000 hours, in a total of 82 languages, according to a news release.

“Quality, efficiency, and security are key themes for content owners as the need to differentiate themselves becomes more prevalent in the fast-paced race to localize content on a global scale,” said Gregory. “The merger provides a global network of owned and operated creative studios, never seen before in the market, which now allows us to support the increasing demand for localization services worldwide in the entertainment industry.”

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