You're speaking myLINGO: app may revolutionize movie-going for multicultural Americans

March 24, 2014
3 min read

Some ideas are good. Others are muy bueno. Take for instance, the soon-to-be-launched myLINGO app, which allows non-native English speakers to go the movies and enjoy a film in the language of their choice by using their smartphone and headphones. This could be a boon for movie theaters that have seen attendance decline by attracting a whole new audience.

What We’ve Seen

The share of Americans who don’t speak English at home has been rising: In 2000, these households made up 17.9% of the population. As of the latest data, from the 2011 American Community Survey, the share is now 20.8% – fully one-fifth of all people living in the US, or about 60 million people. To that end, a record 37.6 million persons aged 5+ speak Spanish at home and the number of Spanish speakers in the US has grown rapidly in recent decades.

Some 76% of Hispanics have gone to a movie theater to watch a movie in the last six months, compared to just 63% of non-Hispanics. Further, Hispanics are nearly twice as likely as non-Hispanics to be “heavy” movie-goers (attending at least six times in the last six months, 31% versus 17%, respectively). Hispanics are a key audience for movie theaters – however, despite Hispanics’ engagement with movies, the industry is likely missing out on an even larger piece of Hispanics’ attention – those who less acculturated or more comfortable speaking in Spanish than in English.

Attracting non-English speakers to the theater is a growing issue since the share (and number) of these consumers is growing in the US. Subtitles can be disruptive to those who are not in need of a translation, and as multiculturalism in the US increases, movie theaters need to cater to progressively diverse audiences.

What It Means

myLINGO allows non-native speakers to go the movies and enjoy a film in the language of their choice, using their smartphone and headphones. Within minutes and for a small fee per downloaded track, myLINGO makes the movie theater experience available to all audiences, regardless of their native language. myLINGO uses audio recognition technology — signal processing and audio fingerprinting — to play dubbed language audio tracks perfectly synchronized with the action on screen and allows language-displaced individuals (LDIs) to enjoy the film in their own language in real time via headphones connected to their smartphone or equivalent device. The smartphone app will launch in the US Hispanic market with Pantelion Film’s Cesar Chavez, slated for March 28, 2014, to encourage multi-generational families to go see Cesar Chavez at their local movie theaters.

If myLINGO is successful at attracting the growing number of multilingual audiences to the theater, studios could see greater revenue opportunities down the line by offering their alternative language audio for downloaded movies after box office. Who says that Hollywood is devoid of orginal ideas?

Fiona O’Donnell
Fiona O’Donnell

Fiona O’Donnell is the Director of US Reports at Mintel. Fiona blends her expertise in lifestyles, economic and demographic trends to help clients understand what drives consumer attitudes and behaviors.

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