Media Rupture: Why Subtitling Is a Higher Priority Than Dubbing?



Media Rupture Why Subtitling Is A Higher Priority Than Dubbing

Have a multimedia localization project? Do you want to sell, entertain, or educate? That’s quite simple, whatever your answer is, subtitling and dubbing are your two options.

Both methods are the most widespread when it comes to introducing any video production, TV programs, movies, audio/ video (educational) content, and other forms of audiovisual media, to a specific market or locale.

However, choosing between them is never that simple. In fact, this has become one of the greatest debates in the multimedia industry. Professionals, critics, and market researchers have been long arguing and providing evidence to support choosing one over the other.

That’s why we’ve decided in this blogpost to feature the pros and cons of each of them, providing a good understanding of the two translation modes and eventually helping you make the right choice.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Dubbing

Before getting into the fors and againsts, it’s really important not to confuse dubbing with voice over.

Dubbing is the process of replacing dialogues (spoken lines) by actors in a certain content with recorded voices (by off-screen actors) in a different language. This revoicing should be in synchronization with the film image, i.e. the recorded voices should fit lips movements on screen.

Voice over, on the other hand, isn’t replacing, rather, it is all about adding voices of off-screen artists as a narration to specific content.

Now, let’s have a look.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Featuring content in audience’s mother tongue, leading to more focus on image and action.
  • No text on the screen.
  • Ideal for blind, partially-sighted, and dyslectic people.
  • Perfect lip-synchronization is hard to achieve.
  • The original speech is completely removed; alteration of dialogue is possible, which can cause a lack of authenticity.
  • Dubbing is a costly and lengthy process.

Dubbing is your ideal choice,

in case your multimedia content targets blind or partially-sighted people.

Dubbing can also be convenient for people who find difficulty in listening to languages they don’t understand or those who get annoyed easily by reading texts (subtitles) on screen, yet, inaccurate lip-synchronization can be off-putting. Considering how difficult to perfect lip-synchronization, most of the dubbed content is out of synch. The discrepancies can be disruptive to the audience driving them away altogether.

On a different level, an essential part of enjoying a movie or a video is the harmony between what is being said (verbal elements) and how it’s being said (non-verbal elements including paralinguistic features). By paralinguistic, we mean body language, facial expressions, gestures, and tone, intonation, and pitch of voice. In dubbing, this harmony is kind of lost, so it might come off a little bit unnatural. Some might even argue that this might ruin the original content, the same way the miscast of dubbed voices that don’t fit the characters and their appearances do. Speaking of lack of originality and authenticity, dubbing gives room to alteration of the original dialogue.

Finally, but most importantly, dubbing is costly. As a matter of fact, it is entitled to be. It totally makes sense with the huge work behind the scenes; hiring translators, voice actors, and sound engineers, preparing the production recording studios equipped with high-tech tools – to ensure high audio quality, as well as going through the rehearsals and recording attempts. The process is also lengthy and complex. So, if you are considering dubbing, make sure you are ready to break the bank.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Subtitling

Moving to subtitling; it’s transforming the language of spoken dialogue in a certain content into text in a different language (subtitles) or in the source language (captions).


  • Preserving the original audio track.
  • Efficient for learning purposes.
  • Ideal for the deaf and people with hearing impairment.
  • Subtitling is a simple, cost-effective process.
  • Text takes ¼ of the screen.
  • Condensation of information.
  • Technicality issues (spatial and temporal aspects)
  • Not suitable for blind, partially-sighted, and dyslectic people.


Thanks to subtitling, the audience can relish the authenticity and integrity of the content, where the original language and the performers’ original lines stay unmarred.

However, subtitling is particularly applauded for its learning advantages. It increases the exposure to foreign languages, which boosts the learning process, resulting in developing linguistic skills, including reading and comprehension skills and acquiring vocabulary. That’s why for an e-learning localization process, adding subtitles to your e-learning course can be effective to achieve learning objectives.

Still, one major concern to subtitling remains to be the necessity to sync subtitles with the speech in any multimedia content.

This can bring about several technicality issues, as in spatial and temporal aspects. Spatial aspects have to do with the amount of space available on the screen to fit subtitles without distracting the audience, and temporal aspects are all about the time given for subtitles to remain on screen (long enough for the audience to read and short enough to match the speaker’s speech).  Some argue that this can result in condensation of information, yet translation and localization professionals have been able to resolve these technicality issues, through employing cutting-edge tools and developing translation and subtitling techniques to cut through such challenges, where maintaining a constant flow of subtitles without compromising quality is possible.

Why Subtitles Are Better for your Business?

While both offer different watching experiences, subtitling outweighs dubbing to a great extent, especially when it comes to business expansion plans.

Video productions are skyrocketing in the digital scene, where more people are prone to search for information with video results, instructions, reviews, interviews, and others. The thing that has made businesses and companies pay heed to the importance of videos to promote their products and services and reach wider audience globally.

Subtitling has made it simple and effective for them, for the reasons below.

 1. More and more people are likely to watch videos with the sound turned off, preferring to watch them in subtitles or captions. 85% of Facebook video is watched without sound; this speaks volumes.

 2. Adding subtitles ensures more engagement from prospective buyers. According to PLYMEDIA, videos with subtitles are watched 91% to completion.

3. More languages, more markets. Your video can have subtitles in multiple languages, sharing your business message to different locales, all at once.

4. Subtitling is cost-effective, and the whole process isn’t lengthy. So, incorporating subtitling in your business strategy won’t break the bank. Quite the opposite, subtitling enhances your international presence, attracting more customers, and eventually increases your revenues.


For multimedia localization, subtitling and dubbing are great translation modes; both have advantages and disadvantages. So many factors involved, including the purpose of the content and the audience preferences which help a lot in the decision.

Nonetheless, subtitling is your best friend, in case business growth is what you seek. It can take your service marketing to a whole new level. If you are ready for this, get in touch with bayanTech team.


1. An article on Digiday UK “85 percent of Facebook video is watched without sound.â€

2. An article on BusinessWire “PLYmedia: Subtitles Increase Online Video Viewing by 40%.â€

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