Reaching Every Audience: Closed Captioning

The key to driving program success is having content that emotionally connects with a wide range of viewers that become a loyal fan base and provide enough support to continue filming for many seasons to come. At this moment you may be thinking about the most recent family oriented show created to engage children, teenagers, and adults, leaving no age group out. Who did you miss? Deaf children, teenagers, and adults.

The Atlantic raised the issue that although progress has been made in the past year in terms of closed captioning accompanying TV shows, there is still much more work to be done. Unfortunately, some TV programs use automated closed captioning systems which pose a number of problems. First, and the most obvious, machines aren’t humans. They can’t capture emotions like humans can. Second, machines aren’t perfect, and neither are humans, but humans are more likely to caption more correctly than machines. It’s safe to say that while using a machine may be faster, cheaper, and overall more efficient, humans provide a better quality final product when it comes to closed captioning.

Knowing this issue exists, what does that mean for production companies? It could mean nothing, or it could mean a huge opportunity to outsmart other programs and reach out to a new audience. Somewhere between production and viewing closed captioning has to get done, but who does it is not always previously determined. Production companies could outsource it and let a machine or someone else do it for them, or they could have someone who understands the show, the emotions, and the message they are trying to present caption it for them. This provides deaf audiences with a richer experience in which they are able to feel the right emotions without hearing the voices of the actors, and connect with the program on a deeper level making them loyal members of the show’s fan base.

If increasing your audience and connecting with their emotions isn’t enough incentive, production companies are going to have to make adjustments because of laws coming out requiring closed captioning. According to Fierce Online Video, since 2010 closed captioning has been required for online programs that were originally on TV. On top of that, in the past few months Netflix and Amazon have achieved 100% closed captioning and it’s only a matter of time before all online videos will be required to have it.

Whether to expand your audience or comply with emerging laws you may want to get a step ahead and begin closed captioning. Closed captioning is reaching a point in the industry where it is no longer an option or afterthought, and it has become a necessary requirement. As you get ready to distribute your TV programs, consider closed captioning before syndication. While some buyers may do closed captioning (and most will have to have a closed captioning solution in the coming months), you will have much more control over the final result if you do it yourself. Not only will the finished product turn out the way you pictured it, but also it may be an advantage in the syndication process if you can tell your clients that you have already taken the time and made the effort to closed caption your programs.

Most importantly, by closed captioning your programs in advance and making sure the content is accessible to the deaf community, you are demonstrating that you are aware of a large community that exists and has been largely disadvantaged in the TV industry. Ensuring the quality of your closed captioning is your opportunity to recognize and give back to that community.

As you prepare to syndicate your programs closed captioning isn’t the only thing to think about. Make sure you have a video platform that makes syndication effortless for both you and your client. Visit MediaShowroom for more information on how we can help you with that process.

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