dai11y 31/07/2023 – Everyone Watches TV with Subtitles Now. How’d That Happen?

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Everyone Watches TV with Subtitles Now. How’d That Happen?

I thought this article was interesting to call out, as in my experience we still often assume captions should be an ‘opt in’ thing. But perhaps things have pivoted to them being ‘opt out’. Indeed, some captions are now ‘on’ by default on social media.

In a 2022 survey of 1,200 people, language learning company Preply determined that 50 percent of Americans used subtitles and closed captions the vast majority of the time they watch content.

According to Preply, 57 percent of all Americans watch shows or movies or videos in public on their mobile devices, but a very significant 74 percent of Gen Z do the same. Even if you’re (hopefully) using headphones while in public, it’s likely you’re getting poor audio quality… subtitles are practically a necessity.

The article also cites ‘habit’ as one of the main reasons. People are simply more used to using subtitles; the article cites that in 2020, nearly 30 percent of on-demand streaming was for non-US shows.

Finally, there are some modern technical issues that could explain why hearing dialogue is more difficult:

For some, the problem is the design of modern televisions; the majority of which place internal speakers at the bottom of the set instead of facing towards the audience, causing significantly worse audio quality. Other issues are caused by sound designs optimized for theatrical experiences, which can result in compressed audio when translated to home.

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