How to translate YouTube videos? Reach a global audience of +1 billion users

Greater than 3 minutes, my friend!

Online video translations increase as video demand skyrockets

It is no news that video has become the most sought-after digital media online in the past few years. With the rise of 4G coverage and high-end mobile devices, internet users have now easy access to video content. The demand for online video content has therefore skyrocketed and the numbers are here to prove it.

For example, Youtube is the 2nd most visited website in the world and over 300 hours of videos are uploaded on to the platform every minute. Almost 5 billion videos are watched on Youtube every single day and 6 out of 10 people prefer watching online videos than live TV.

Video translation on Youtube can help you reach an audience of over 1 billion people

With the biggest video audience out of all platforms and with 76 translated and localised versions, Youtube allows its users to reach global audiences in various languages. The platform has a closed-captioning and subtitling tool that enable the user to add different languages to their videos and also allows the localisation of video and channel description.

For professional use, I recommend using the skills of a subtitle provider to ensure publication quality. For personal use, follow the guide below to translate Youtube videos:

First head over to your video manager screen and click the “Edit” drop-down menu of the video you would like to translate:

Add the source language of the video and select one of the three methods available:

  • Create subtitles in Youtube
  • Upload your file
  • Use Youtube’s automatic captioning and translation tool (powered by Google Translate)

Create subtitles or closed captions straight into Youtube

You can translate Youtube videos and type in your subtitles straight into the video editor, Youtube recognises speech and generates timings automatically allowing you to type your subtitles that are then correctly timed in with the audio.

Once you’ve set up the source language, click on “Create new subtitles or CC”:

Use the editor tool to type your subtitles into the video and click “publish” when you’re done.

Upload your own subtitle file

Youtube allows you to upload your own subtitles; this is particularly useful when you have an audio transcription of the video that has already been translated by professionals and converted to a subtitle file format (see formats supported).

Subtitles created by professionals are imperative to ensure correct line breaks, timings…

After setting the source language, choose the “Upload your file” option and add your translated subtitle file, click “publish” et voila!

Using Youtube to extract the transcript of your videos

If you are outsourcing your video translation you will need an audio transcript of your video files that you can send to your language service provider. This can be done easily via Youtube.

After setting a source language, pick the same language as the target language and add your audio transcript in the video editor as if you were adding translated captions. Click then on the “download” button under the “Actions” drop-down menu at the top to retrieve a .sbv file.

You can send this file for translation to your translation company and get it back in the same format. Use then the “upload your file” option described above to add the subtitles. Since the file is extracted from Youtube, it already has auto-generated timings from the platform as well as the correct format and this might save you time and money.

Be careful, sometimes this might end up costing you more, though. Extracting auto-generated timings from Youtube can lead to crucial errors which will, in turn, create more work for the video editor and require extensive QA. Sometimes it pays engaging professionals to avoid costly damage control.

Why should you localise your Youtube videos?

With impressive numbers, video content is driving internet usage statistics to new all-time records. Having your video marketing translated and localised as a global brand allows you to reach an audience that is growing every year.

With a platform that allows you to reach global audiences and to translate your content easily, having quality localised content on Youtube is crucial to stay ahead of your competitors and to enhance the experience of your international audiences.


Thomas Lespes-Muñoz

About Thomas Lespes-Muñoz

Multilingual Digital Marketer at 2M Language Services, I regularly re-publish content pieces from my company's blog written by our experienced industry professionals.

3 thoughts on “How to translate YouTube videos? Reach a global audience of +1 billion users

    1. Hello Santiago, excellent comment and indeed italic subtitles are very important. Youtube doesn’t allow styling of the text in its editor unfortunately and this is why you haven’t come across italic subtitles so far. This is why on many occasions you will need the assistance of a professional.
      The way around will be to create the subtitle file yourself with the correct styling, then burn in the subtitles in the video and upload it to Youtube as a separate video.

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