Is Multilingual Podcast The Next Big Thing?

The world now has more than 850,000 active podcasts and 30 million episodes in over 100 languages. Although a big chunk of these podcasts are produced in the US, figures show that the podcasting industry is booming elsewhere. Coupled with the fact that nearly 75% of the internet users do not speak English, the emergence of local podcast hosting platforms in many countries suggests a significant growth in the global podcast market.

In another vein, the rising popularity of podcasts outside the US marks a golden opportunity for podcasters with some markets still lagging behind just because nobody has seized the opportunity yet. Top podcast producers in the US, including iHeartRadio and Wondery, have recently caught up with the trend and started to offer their hits in multiple languages.

Imagine a podcast that was played by thousands of people suddenly attracting millions of listeners all around the globe. Read on and get tuned in the story of multilingual podcasts.

What is a Multilingual Podcast, and How is it Done?!

By definition, a podcast is either a one-off or episodic series of audio files that are aimed at educating or entertaining specific audiences. Podcasts come in various formats, including interviews, panels, solos, repurposed content, and conversational dialogues. Now that people all round the world are spending more time on the internet via their smartphones, listening to a podcast has become very popular. As a result, the podcast industry has started to garner increasing interest inside and outside the US, pushing podcasters to invest more in their business and generate money from advertising, content marketing, subscriptions, and more.

Besides the various monetization models and revenue streams in the podcast market, the creation of multilingual podcasts came as an efficient investment expansion that unlocks new horizons of success on a global scale. Podcast localization, then, is a single spend that brings in massive return on investment (ROI).

But, how to create a multilingual podcast that sounds original in each language? Here is the answer:

1st Step: Transcription

First of all, it is important to transcribe what is being said in the podcast, preferably by specialized transcriptionists who devote special attention to details. Adding an intelligent transcript of your podcast does not only facilitate the following translation steps, but also supports your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and improves your rankings in the search results. Now you are done with the initial step, what is next?

2nd Step: Translation:

After you have a full edited or intelligent transcript of the audio file, it is easy to translate it into one or more languages of your choice. However, translating a podcast usually requires more skills than translating a document due to the fact that verbal conversations include lots of figurative idioms and colloquial expressions. Native linguists will transcreate your transcripted text into a new language(s). It is also recommended that a team of editors and reviewers have a second look at the translated content to fix any errors and prepare it for the third and final step: localization.

3rd Step: Localization:

Now that you have a translated transcript of the audio, you are one step away from the creation of a foreign-language version of your podcast. Podcast localization could be done in three different ways, just as follows:


Interpretation voice over

In this scenario, your podcast’s original audio remains audible, yet covered with a recording of an interpretation voice over. In other words, a new layer of interpretation is recorded and added over the original audio file, sometimes with a short delay to show the original recording. This type of localization is usually preferred in celebrity interviews or or other forms of podcasts that revolve around the speakers themselves.



Re-recording or Recreation

The second scenario is the creation of a brand new podcast in the target language. This is done through the recording of a new original audio by native voice performers who read the translated text with flow and intonation. This type is perfect for informative and educational podcasts where the identity of the original speaker(s) does not matter.



YouTube Video with Subtitles

One demonstrated approach in the field of multilingual podcasting is uploading the podcast as a YouTube video with the fixed cover image in the background. In this case, you can caption your podcast with multilingual subtitles in as many languages as you want, instead of re-recording the audio.

Not Only That...

The process of creating a multilingual podcast lies far beyond these simple three steps and involves more than just linguists and talented interpreters or voice actors. It all begins with a market research to find interested audiences and define the language(s) you will translate your podcast into. Furthermore, when you start localizing an episodic podcast show, you need to craft a professional music or voice introduction that mimics the source one and appeals to the new target audience. You will also be required to create a localized cover design that resonates with the audience. The final output of this long process is a localized podcast that fits in the new market and resonates with your audience. 

Benefits of multilingual podcast

Before you make a decision to localize your podcast show or create a multilingual podcast, you need to fully understand what is exactly the return on your spend. Here are three benefits a well-crafted multilingual podcast could yield to you:

  1. Expand your reach

A multilingual podcast will extend your reach beyond linguistic and cultural limits, and thus make your content accessible to international audiences at a click of a button in today’s digital age. Studies also found that people usually listen to digital podcasts while they are driving or during their daily routines, unlike written or video content that requires a higher level of dedication.


  1. Boost your SEO

When you add a transcript of your podcast in multiple languages, you allow Google crawlers to recognize and index your web page, or even your page on a podcast hosting platform. This means you will get higher ranking in the search results and draw more relevant traffic.

  1. Generate more revenues

Reaching the right new people and capturing their interest with captivating content will eventually lead to higher revenues across different monetization levels. Whether you sell a product or service, leverage digital ads, or request paid subscriptions, a multilingual podcast will increase your conversion and maximize your returns.

To summarize

The global podcast market volume was estimated at USD 9.28 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach USD 11.07 billion by the end of 2020. This data reflects the increasing number of podcast hosts, producers, and listeners. There has never been a better time to start or expand your multilingual podcast project. All you need to do is find a reliable language partner with a high reputation in your target market(s) and seize the opportunity.