Fansubs vs subtitling company: Pros, cons and which one is right for you?

Published on November 21st, 2018

subtitling services

In the modern day where auto-generated YouTube subtitles are only a button away, it is easy to think paying for professional subtitles is a thing of the past. We have written a bit on why automatic subtitles are nowhere near reliable enough (and probably never will be) on this blog before, but there is another option that can get you human translators for free.

We are talking about fansubs.

These are especially common for films and video games that are not translated for international audiences. Japanese anime and games are a prime example but could this be something content and game creators adopt more widely in place of professional subtitle services?


Fansubs vs subtitling companies: The pros and cons

As with anything, there are always pros and cons to both sides of the coin, so let us start by looking at the good and bad of fansubs vs subtitle companies.


The pros of fansubs:

  • They are free
  • They do not eat into your resources
  • You can reach out to fans and get them involved


The cons of fansubs:

  • You might get low-quality results
  • Not subbing your content can alienate audiences
  • Many fansubbers are non-native speakers
  • Fansubbers are not professional subtitle engineers or translators
  • You need a very strong fan base to get your content fansubbed

Essentially, it all comes down to a cost vs quality. If your work is popular enough you can get your content subbed for free but you have zero control over the process or the quality.

At this stage, it is probably quite easy to guess the pros and cons of going with a professional subtitling company.


The pros of subtitling companies:

  • You get guaranteed quality
  • Subtitle translation from professional translators
  • Professional subtitle engineers have the right tools for the job
  • Working with the same subtitling company creates an efficient, cost-effective workflow
  • Professional subtitles show you take your audience seriously


The cons of subtitling company:

  • You have to find the right company to work with
  • You have to pay for their services

The only real downsides to hiring a subtitling company are the fact you have to find a decent one to work and then pay for the privilege. However, it’s not much of a price to pay for guaranteed quality and getting your message across to every audience – especially if you are targeting foreign-speaking markets with your content.


Fansubs vs subtitling company: Which one is right for you?

If you are officially releasing your content to overseas markets, then paying for professional subtitles is the obvious way to go. Fansubs emerged from the import of Japanese content that was not translated for Western audiences and this was compounded by illegal online downloads (and later services like Netflix).

Essentially, fansubs are there for fans who are not getting the translations they need from content publishers. If you are specifically targeting a language market with your content, professional subtitles are the least you can do to get them on your side.

One final point we would like to make is that not all fansubs are necessarily low-quality. In fact, you only have to head over to Reddit to see many gaming and film fans prefer fansubs to the official versions. Sadly, a lot of publishers do not insist on the right level of quality for their subtitles and translations, meaning fans often edit and improve upon them.

This only reiterates the importance of getting the right subtitling company on board that delivers the level of quality you need. Contact our dedicated team of professionals who can help you with your subtitling services needs.

Posted on: November 21st, 2018