If you are producing video content on a regular basis, you have probably wrestled with the idea of adding subtitles, especially if you are targeting international audiences. However, translating footage is not the only reason why you should consider video subtitling services.
#1: Make your content accessible to deaf & hard-of-hearing audiences
The most obvious and important reason to subtitle video content is to make it more accessible for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences. However, it is important to understand the difference between subtitles and closed captions (CC) in this case:
- Subtitles: Provide text for spoken dialogue and, in the case of translated subtitles, visible text.
- Closed captions: Provide text for dialogue and contextual descriptions of relevant audio – e.g. sound effects, music, etc.
Subtitles are commonly used for translating dialogue while closed captions are more effective for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences – or instances where people choose to watch your video with the sound turned off.
There are often many situations where people may prefer to watch your video content without the audio. This is increasingly common in the mobile age where people are scrolling quickly through social media feeds. There are also scenarios where many individuals might not feel comfortable watching videos with audio, for example when in a public setting with the volume turned up.
By subtitling your videos, your content becomes straightaway accessible to those people who want to watch in silence – whether they’re on the bus riding back home after work or they have finally got the baby to sleep at home.
There is a good amount of empirical research showing that watching video content with subtitles improves the viewer’s comprehension ability. As described in the abstract for a study titled Video Captions Benefit Everyone:
“Video captions, also known as same-language subtitles, benefit everyone who watches videos (children, adolescents, college students, and adults)”.
According to the abstract: “More than 100 empirical studies document that captioning a video improves comprehension of, attention to, and memory for the video. Captions are particularly beneficial for persons watching videos in their non-native language, for children and adults learning to read, and for persons who are D/deaf or hard of hearing”.
Viewing habits also support the science behind the benefits of watching video content with subtitles. A 2019 study from Netflix found “more than 80% of members use subtitles or closed captions at least once a month”.
More recently, other research carried out by captioning charity Stagetext found that 80% of viewers aged 18-25 said they use subtitles all or part of the time.
As mentioned in the first point, subtitles are often used to translate video dialogue into other languages. This is one of the most cost-effective methods of translating video content for multiple language audiences and the most common type of subtitling service.
With translated subtitles, you can target multiple language audiences with the same video while preserving the audio and dialogue of the original footage. This is a popular choice for film translation as it maintains the performance of actors and it is also a common solution for international advertising campaigns, especially when brands want to retain elements such as local heritage – e.g. an Italian sports car ad.
In the digital age, video performance is often measured by reach, number of views, shares, engagement and a range of other key metrics. In most cases, subtitled videos outperform those without subtitles:
- Viewers are more engaged: more people watch videos in full when subtitles are included.
- Subtitles increase social reach: Insight from landing page software provider Instapage finds that subtitled videos achieve 16% higher reach on Facebook where 85% of videos are watched on mute.
- Improved SEO: Although Google is working on technology that can interpret and understand dialogue in video, search engines still rely on text and metadata to “read” information in content, including captions added to YouTube videos.
With all current data showing that subtitled videos perform a lot better across digital channels than videos without subtitles, you should always look for ways to add subtitles or captions in your video(s) to keep up with those viewing trends and ultimately, maximise reach.
If you need help with translating your video content or choosing between subtitles and closed captions, please reach out to our subtitling services team by filling out the form on our contact page.