Hollywood hero Zoo Digital hails top year

Zoo Digital's CEO Stuart Green said Netflix and Amazon are the drivers of demand
Zoo Digital's CEO Stuart Green said Netflix and Amazon are the drivers of demand
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Z​oo​ Digital, which provides subtitles for Hollywood film studios,​​ has hailed “another extremely successful year” as it announced a 73 per cent leap in annual revenue.

The Sheffield-based group has seen a huge jump in digital streaming as more people subscribe to popular services such as Netflix and Amazon.

The firm’s CEO ​Stuart Green said: “Netflix and Amazon are the drivers of demand. They are commissioning their own original series.

“Our market is growing at more than 10 per cent a year.”

Zoo has been strong in subtitles, but now it has introduced dubbing the firm said it has achieved a key milestone to becoming a one stop shop for all media localisation and digital packaging services.

“The main growth is in localisation - taking TV series and feature films and adapting them to different languages by subtitling - which we’ve done for five years - and now dubbing where we replace audio with local actors,” said Mr Green.

“In markets like France, Germany and Italy, there is a strong preference for audiences to hear dubbed programmes not subtitles as it is what the audience is used to.

“However, the UK and Scandinavia prefer subtitles.”

He added that some countries, such as France and Italy, have legislation that states that the majority of programmes have to be in the local language.

“As a nation, the Brits don’t like dubbing. It wasn’t done well in the past. If it’s done well it doesn’t annoy you,” said Mr Green.

He said that there has been a transformational shift away from DVDs and Blu-ray to digital. Digital services are now available in over 200 countries so it is much easier to reach a wider audience.

Mr Green said customers are opting for Zoo as all its services are delivered from its own proprietary software.

“We have invested in technology that enables us to offer a superior service. We can turn programmes around a lot more quickly,” he said.

“We have one client who says we can do a project in one tenth of the time. It might have taken 10 weeks for a competitor, but it takes us around a week.”

Zoo has steadily increased the number of quality voice actors and dubbing professionals it uses ​to meet demand. The firm said ​its growing reputation in the market is helping ​it engage with these professionals, enabling services to be fulfilled across a growing number of languages.

“We can only offer services if we have the actors,” said Mr Green.

“We’ve doubled the number of freelancers year on year. It was 4,000 freelancers and now we have over 5,000.”

He was speaking as Zoo announced a 73 per cent increase in revenue to £22m in the year to March 31.

Adjusted EBITDA ​rose 35​ per cent​ to ​£1.8m. The group reported a pre-tax loss of £3.8m but this was due to a non-cash accounting adjustment.

​​Analyst Andrew Darley at FinnCap said: “Localisation services, elements of the suite of Zoo’s broader cloud-based platform, deliver the ability for content providers to commercialise their content in more languages and territories at a pace and cost which outperform any alternatives.

​“​Matching client demand, the clients being both the largest and best known in Hollywood as well as the household name online platforms, the company continues to invest in overseas partnerships of ‘talent’ to deliver further languages and capacity in addition to the 5,000 strong Z​oo​ network.

​“​The group delivers momentum from playing to the video media zeitgeist of enabling content delivery over any device, anytime, anywhere – fulfilling the practicality of rolling out a film in 30 languages to 50 territories at the same time, rather than the former practical limit of the typical maximum 10 languages.”