What should the hit U.S. podcast Dr. Death sound like in French? Or Italian? That’s just one of the decisions that companies like Wondery are working through as they adapt content originally geared to American audiences for listeners around the globe. Declan Moore, who last month was hired to lead Wondery’s global efforts, says that expansion will begin with the show focused on a neurosurgeon and a failed medical system. The Wrap reports Wondery has hired teams in seven still-unnamed international markets to begin its worldwide expansion.
“It’s its own unique art form. It’s not a translation of a voice-of-God documentary, where audio is very much a supporting role,” the London-based Moore told TheWrap. “You’re really trying to replicate the essence of that storytelling. You have to capture the entire emphasis and tone.”
Beyond Dr. Death’s foreign foray, which is set for release in October, Wondery expects it will also take Dirty John, Over My Dead Body and Business Wars to the international audience in the months that follow. The expansion is in part funded from a $10 million fundraising round the company has just completed.
Other companies are also working to translate their shows. Gimlet Media co-founder Matt Lieber told TheWrap that starting first quarter of 2020 the company will release a German-language version of dramedy podcast Sandra. That will mean replacing the show, which starred Kristin Wiig and Alia Shawkat, with new German-speaking leads. Now under the Spotify umbrella, Gimlet has a mandate to begin leveraging some of its U.S. hits into the more than 75 other countries where Spotify operates.
For now the biggest success may lie in other English-speaking markets. The U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand are among the most developed podcast markets and targeting those countries comes without the expense of reproducing shows. Wondery and Stitcher announced earlier this month they’ve partnered to create a new podcast platform they’re calling Podfront UK. The joint venture will not only bring another way for the two companies to expose their catalog of more than 300 shows to U.K. audiences but also help scale the podcasts that are being produced there for an international audience.
The data shows 7.6 million people in the U.K. now listen to podcasts every week, a 25% increase compared to a year ago. Yet the ad dollars being spent in the U.K. podcast marketplace are just a fraction of those in the U.S. By some estimates it totals just $15 million—well below the $678.7 million in revenue that the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) projects U.S. podcast companies will see in 2019.