The language services industry refers to activities servicing spoken and written multilingual communication, and includes services and technologies such as language translation, interpretation, subtitling, dubbing, software and website localization.
Slator’s 2022 Language Industry Market Report found that the language services and language technology industry grew almost 12% in a year, reaching a market size of nearly USD 27bn in 2021.
The language services industry continued this upward trajectory in 2022, despite the pressure of global inflation, the threat of an energy crisis in Europe, and companies worldwide suffering under the strain of macroeconomic factors.
This growth is reflected in Slator’s 2023 Language Service Provider Index, which ranks 300+ LSPs in order of revenue (USD) and has been segmented into four categories: Super Agencies, Leaders, Challengers, and Boutiques.
79% of LSPs reported positive growth in 2022 across all four LSPI segments. None of the Super Agencies reported negative growth — their combined revenues were up 6.5% compared to 2021. Meanwhile, the 48 LSPI Leaders demonstrated the largest year-on-year growth compared to 2021 and had shared revenues of USD 4.2bn.
Several Challengers graduated to become Leaders in 2023, while the largest segment, LSPI Boutiques, reported 5% growth with a total of USD 660m in revenues.
Overall, the LSPI companies grew around 10% to nearly USD 10.4bn in 2022. However, it should be noted that several currencies fell starkly against the dollar in 2022, most significantly the British Pound and the Euro.
Verticals Driving Growth
The three fastest-growing verticals in the 2023 LSPI were game localization, media localization, and US healthcare interpreting. The game localization market is dominated by large companies such as video game specialist Keywords Studios and Super Agency Lionbridge.
Slator’s Game Localization Report showed game specialists generally grew well above market average in 2022. Likewise, the front runners in the adjacent market of media localization — including dubbing brothers, VSI, and Visual Data, and Iyuno — all grew above the market rate.
The biggest translation agency in 2023, TransPerfect, has a sizable media localization division itself. Meanwhile, Propio Language Services outperformed its peers in US healthcare interpreting, almost tripling its revenues in 2022 through a mix of acquisitive and organic growth.
Size by Geography
In terms of the number of LSPs in the 2023 LSPI, Europe (excluding the UK) had the biggest representation, continuing the region’s dominance from previous years. North America was the second biggest participating region, while the US took the title as the highest represented country, followed by the UK, Germany, Spain, and Sweden; the same top five countries as in 2022.
An increasing number of organizations are putting faith in the fact that language services are not just a nice-to-have, but a critical requirement. According to the new Chief Revenue Officer at Unbabel, Jennifer Ber, increasing awareness of the benefits of language services is a key driver of the language services industry’s resilience and growth.
At SlatorCon Remote, Translated CEO, Marco Trombetti, also shed light on why the language industry is so big and experiencing continued growth. “Language is the tool to solve all the other problems,” Trombetti stated, pointing out that the only methods of interlingual communication are using the same language or translation. So, Trombetti concluded, “Translation isn’t going away.”