Why Netflix Is Now Dubbing, Subtitling Content in Poland

Orange is the New Black S04 Still 9 - Publicity - H 2016
JoJo Whilden/Netflix

Orange is the New Black S04 Still 9 - Publicity - H 2016

The streaming giant is moving away from English-only programming in a bid to gain international market share.

Netflix i wyluzuj! Netflix and chill!

In a move to broaden its international audience, Netflix has begun dubbing and subtitling its English-heavy programming catalog into Polish.

The streaming giant on Tuesday announced that 80 percent of content on its new localized Polish service will be dubbed or subtitled. The shift, which Netflix had previously announced, is a bid to expand beyond a niche English-speaking audience in foreign-language territories. In Poland, one of Europe's biggest TV markets, viewers are accustomed to watching dubbed series, and the market for English-language originals is tiny.

"We always knew the Polish people had a big appetite for great entertainment,” said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings in a statement. “Now we know it and we're delighted to offer a more localized Netflix experience in Poland that will continue to grow with great TV shows and movies from here as well as around the world.”

The foreign-language move is part of a broader strategic shift by Netflix, which has seen subscriber growth slow internationally, in part because its mainly English-language series have limited appeal in many countries. Netflix is available in virtually every nation on earth (with the major exception of China), but in most places its programming is heavily tilted to U.S. series, typically with a 80/20 model of U.S. versus local content.

High-profile investments in marquee foreign-language productions — Columbian crime drama Narcos, French political series Marseille, the upcoming German-language thriller Dark —haven't changed that basic mix.

But Netflix has clearly recognized that to expand its international operation it needs to learn the local lingo. In Poland, Netflix series such as House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, Narcos and Daredevil will be available with Polish subtitles and/or Polish-dubbed dialogue. Children's programming will also be dubbed into Polish.

Netflix has increased its local content in the region, initially focusing, as it has in other territories, on comedy, with entertainment specials featuring local stand-up stars Katarzyna Piasecka, Rafal Paczes, Mariusz Kalamaga, Karol Kopiec and others.