How subtitles add value, not just access 

The added value of subtitles and captions has been a repeated theme at various conferences that I have attended over the last few years, and its one of my favourite topics so I am going to write another blog post about it now. Why? Because I believe the value of captioning will continue to be tapped into by companies. A lot are already doing this.

Diana Sánchez from Ericsson (formerly Red Bee Media) gave a great presentation at the Languages & The Media 2014 Conference that detailed the areas the subtitles add value.

In summary, subtitles and captioning can add value in 4 areas:

Cartoon of people talking through at tin


  1. Communication. (Events – presentations, conferences, web calls, conference calls, improve language skills)

    A diagram of a triangle linking 3 types of learning

    Diagram illustrating multi-sensory learning.

  2. Learning. (Including 2nd language learning,multi- sensory learning)

    A digram illustrating stages of converting speech to texr

    Speech Recognition Technology.

  3. Speech Recognition. (Algorithms and probability can be based on phonemes. Probability can be skewed using a specific engine e.g. genre feeding in audio and the correct answer. Subtitles = accurate transcript)

    A screen shot of a subtitle file open in Notepad software

    A Subtitle file is valuable text-based information about video content.

  4. Video Metadata. (Timed text=video metadata. Why is video so important? Increased revenues = increased views.)

You can read more from Diana on this topic at the Ericsson blog.

Netflix were in attendance at Languages & The Media 2014 and are already captioning content on their service, and I believe all of the above are reasons why they are doing this. (Yes I know they were also sued by the NAD in 2011, but what I am getting at with this blog post is that the added value of captioning are all positive reasons why companies should be captioning more content regardless of regulatory requirements).

Netflix’s competitors are starting to realise this too. This is of course a good thing for end users who also need captioning for access.  You don’t need to look hard to find information on the multiple ways in which text adds value to video content. I think we will start to see VOD providers add captioning to  their services not only to improve access but to help to improve video search functionality. Take a look at this article and video demonstration of interactive transcripts and its easy to see why this capability could be extremely useful for any end-user of video content to be able find and view content that they are interested in much more quickly and precisely.  That’s a better user experience for all.