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How has Netflix changed Voicever and Content?

The Netflix effect is everywhere - even in voiceover.

Netflix is a cutting edge digital company giving consumers what they want – choice, personalisation and immediacy. So, the underlying drive behind this effect comes from the viewers Netflix serves.Viewers want to interact with content on their own terms and time.

With this direction in mind, those companies creating content that meets that demand will propser. The same is true in all areas of voiceover, which while exploding in category types and volume, must still serve the audience. Or they will get lost and be forgotten.

Lets see how each area of voiceover is being shaped in new ways:


The days of the standard 30 second commercial’s predominance are ending fast. The 30 second ad made up roughly 50% of the market in 2017, but is declining rapidly. 15 and 10 second ads are becoming the norm, with Youtube having rolled out 6 second ads that can't be skipped. Fox Networks in America is following that trend, rolling out 6 second ads across the network and AMC has started selling 6 second ads during “The Walking Dead.”

“There never will again be a single dominant format” for television commercials, said David Lubars, chief creative officer of BBDO Worldwide. Read more here.

Corporate Films

With the rise of the internet, has come the increasing importance of online videos for companies. From their early beginnings as simple explainer videos, most now match the standard of prestige television commercials and TV series, and yet some may only be seen internally by company employees.

If the US is awash with 400+ scripted TV series each year, how is a company going to get an employees attention, or those of stakeholders? It must make a promotional film they will want to watch, complete with a modern, dynamic and engaging voiceover.

Film Trailers

Witness the rise of the pre-trailer film trailer – the exciting, action packed 4 seconds telling you what will be in the trailer. Immediately followed by the actual trailer. Best seen in Jason Bourne:

Yes, viewer’s attention spans are down, but it also speaks to their desire for choice. If the first 4 seconds does not work for them, they will move on. So it needs to grab them from the beginning or no one will stick around.

Same with the voiceover. With a handful of words I need to grab the audience and transport them into the world. Read more here.


E-learning is currently being upended by micro-learning. Why would any employee voluntarily choose to sit through lengthy modules? Because they have to as part of their employment might be a reason.

But a big debate in e-learning is always about the effectiveness of the content and learner retention. So an employee is required to sit through a 45 minute module but do they retain anything?

That’s where micro-learning and a modern relateable voicover is taking over. Bite size learning of around 5 minutes being told to the learner by a good friend. Content that is slick and engaging. So employees retain more, businesses witness an increase in underlying profit and everyone gains.


Audiobooks used to just be the voice of actors on the other end of the headphones. Now, audiobooks are like films and TV shows, with the same applying for even the advertising (above). Soundscapes, real world sounds, filmic music and a range of actors all on the one audiobook or drama. Something that captivates and engages for up to 14 hours

Without those elements, and a versatile voice actor conveying the characters and story, the audiobook will lack immediacy, connection and a deep pull for the audience. Causing it to fall off the list of sellers. Animation / Gaming

For years gaming has gone from overblown to a more intimate film feel – characters in cut scenes that move an audience like the close up in a film: witness the power of “The Last of Us”:

You may forget you are watching a game where animators have taken mocap footage and rendered it.

It’s clear that modern content and voiceover must be immediate, give the viewer choice and be relevant to them.

How does that affect buyers of voiceover services?

In voiceover the key to this relevancy is creating a unique connection. Though I am in a booth recording down a microphone into an audio processor, I am in reality speaking to my uncle, mother, brother: someone close to me, so that when the audience hears it they are swept up in that immediacy and connection. It is as if I am truly talking to them as an individual, witnessing them and recognising them for who they are. Tapping into a huge desire within all of us: to be seen for who we are.

And I need to be able to do it in 4 seconds. I need to create the story in commercials, the spectacle in corporate films and trailers. Lead the audience by the hand on audiobook, elearning and gaming adventures.

Always serving, always inviting with the myriad possibilities of the voice. Voiceover that doesn't follow this trend will not GRAB the audience and be a waste of everyone’s time.

If you like, please share.

Paul Mclaughlin © Versatile Voiceovers

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