Many media localization providers experienced double-digit growth in 2018, benefiting from the explosion in video content. One company that did not share in this strong growth was leading incumbent SDI Media, which faced headwinds from new entrants into the space, such as ZOO Digital, IYUNO, and others.
Among the new-ish media localizers enjoying above-average growth is Paris-based Lylo, which was founded in 2012 and grew to new highs of USD 14.2m in 2018 revenues, up 27%. Lylo has additional offices in Belgium, Casablanca, Germany, and Italy and has just acquired Studio PV, an Italian dubbing studio founded in 1979.
The deal closed on March 29, 2019 and terms were not disclosed. Slator spoke to Grégoire Parcollet, CEO of Lylo, to find out more about the acquisition.
Their decision to acquire a dubbing studio in Italy was a strategic one, Parcollet said. Lylo set about conducting a review of the Italian market in 2018 “to identify and short list potential studios looking for a more global exposure and a stronger partnership with a global localization group.” From that short list, Studio PV was interested and the deal was struck.
Italy is a key dubbing market, according to Parcollet, who said “the strong focus from our consistently growing clients list is the Italian market.” Among these clients are Discovery, Viacom, and Fremantle, all of whom Lylo has in common with Studio PV.
Moreover, the “Italian dubbing market is growing and continues to be part of the FIGS requirements from many major clients. Volumes will continue to be consistent if not growing to enable all current studios to share this volume,” Parcollet told Slator. Lylo’s Italy deal follows the acquisition by rival media localizer BTI Studios of two dubbing studios in Italy in 2018.
Looking forward, Parcollet forecasts combined sales of USD 20m in 2019, with Studio PV contributing some USD 1m in 2018 revenues. The acquisition brings Lylo’s headcount to a total of 85 and Studio PV will be integrated into the Lylo brand. Although Lylo has other dubbing partners in Italy, “all our projects will be going to our new Lylo Italy entity,” unless there are client requirements otherwise, he said.
Resourcing Challenges, Price Pressure
While English into FIGS (French, Italian, German, and Spanish) continues to form the core of language combinations requested by customers, there is a growing trend in media localization for non-English language pairs, which can be harder to resource.
Asked whether Lylo was receiving more requests not involving English, Parcollet replied, “not very often yet.” If and when this does happen, however, “English scripts are usually provided, but if not, the challenge is always the ability to go directly from a source language to a target language without using English as an intermediate,” he said.
Some of the harder to resource language combinations Lylo sees include Korean to Brazilian Portuguese, Turkish to Syrian Arabic, Turkish to Latin American Spanish or Brazilian Portuguese, and Japanese to French, Italian, German, and Spanish. For the most part, Lylo uses English as a pivot language, “unless resources are available,” Parcollet added.
Along with the challenges of resourcing new language combinations, media localizers also have to deal with increasing volumes of content. In his presentation at SlatorCon San Francisco 2018, Mark Howorth, CEO of SDI Media suggested that some customers are reacting to this by choosing to commit to volumes in order to ensure capacity.
“Volume commitment is very hard to get from a client, pricing will always be the priority, and clients will never guarantee you a specific number of hours” — Grégoire Parcollet, CEO, Lylo
Parcollet said, on the other hand, that “volume commitment is very hard to get from a client, pricing will always be the priority, and clients will never guarantee you a specific number of hours. They will inform you that future volume will be split between providers and volumes are unknown at the pricing stage.”
On the pricing front, Parcollet told Slator that downward price pressure and supplier rationalization, two challenges also identified by Howorth, are “constant, common, and a regular business approach from numerous clients too often not in the best interest of quality and only serving cost-efficiency policies.”