Subtitles are an entertainment gold rush

Subtitle demand skyrockets

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The Future. With deaf-led charity Stagetext finding that 80% of 18 to 24-year-olds use subtitles most of the time when watching content (while only 10% of them are actually hard of hearing), it’s safe to say that the closed captioning business is in a boom market. But with the advent of AI, expect smaller services to skip the human workforce for the cost reduction of the algorithm… just maybe don’t expect as nuanced a translation.

Translation treasure
Global streaming led to a demand for more content in various languages… which means a lot more demand for good translators.

  • The US closed captioning market hit a high of $170 million, while the larger transcription business is a whopping $30 billion… and growing 7% annually.
  • The market mostly comprises highly-trained freelance contractors who work for firms like Rev and VITAC and are paid for each minute of a title’s runtime.
  • Freelancers, who need to have an understanding of local cultures and lexicons, also need to follow each studio’s unique style guide (Disney’s is specific).

With streamers angling to be global platforms, the pressure has never been greater to think about subtitling way in advance of a film’s or TV show’s premiere. Flawless translations are expected to already be in the can in case a title unexpectedly takes off anywhere in the world.

And with digital creators also wanting their content to be subtitled to grow their global fanbases, the demand for closed captioning services is set to skyrocket even further.


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