How Much Does a Closed Captioning Service Cost? (And Why Price Isn’t Everything)

June 5, 2015 BY EMILY GRIFFIN
Updated: January 4, 2018

Price is an important consideration for choosing a closed captioning company, but what is the true cost of low-budget captions? Could you be sacrificing accuracy, quality, or timeliness of your closed captioning to save money? And is it worth it.

These are just a few questions you should ask when choosing a video captioning vendor. Here are some tips for making the most of your budget.

Pricing Model

Examine the pricing model of your captioning company. Pricing is usually based on duration of the recorded content – either per minute or per hour. However, you should ask vendors about rounding.

Many captioning vendors round up to the nearest minute or 5-minute increment. The most cost-effective approach is not to round at all. This can add up to significant savings, especially if you have a lot of short files. You should also ask vendors if there is a per-file minimum.

Cost of Fees

Next, ask if there are any extra fees that aren’t explained in the pricing model. Some captioning vendors have a base price, but then they have a long list of extra fees for multiple speakers, speaker identification, certain caption formats, etc. Make sure you understand the total price, so there are no surprises.

You’ll also want to know whether or not the vendor requires a set up or platform fee. This added cost might not make sense for you if you’re looking for a one-time captioning project.

You should also ask whether the vendor requires a minimum order to begin captioning. If you only have sporadic captioning needs, you don’t want to be penalized for not having a lot of content.

Bulk Discounts

Once you know how the pricing model works, the next question is whether the vendor provides bulk discounts. In some cases, vendors will let you pre-purchase a bulk number of hours, providing you with sometimes significant discounts. Then whenever you upload content, it will deduct from that bulk credit. This is a great way to make captioning more cost-effective at scale.

What Are You Sacrificing for Price?

Low-cost vendors may not be able to offer premium services like fast turnaround or video platform integrations that better suit your needs.

The price of captioning usually correlates with accuracy. Keep this in mind when exploring cheap captioning vendors.

The cheapest options often sacrifice accuracy by crowdsourcing or using offshore transcriptionists whose native language is not English, or by relying on automatic captioning without any human quality assurance.

If you do elect to go with a lower cost provider, consider that the cost of cleaning up those captions – if quality is important to you – can be significant. Inaccuracy is not worth the sacrifice if it means breaching caption law, damaging your web presence, or simply embarrassing your brand.

Does that mean that costly caption services always deliver high quality? Not necessarily.

The most expensive captioning vendors may just have an inefficient captioning process that fails to leverage modern technology.

The best way to gauge a captioning company’s cost-effectiveness is by researching their transcription process and reading customer reviews. That way you know you’re getting the best value for your money.

Our Advice

  • Understand the vendor’s pricing model, and whether there are order minimums or price rounding.
  • Inquire about fees beyond the base price.
  • Seek bulk discounts if you need lots of video captioned.
  • Research the company’s video transcription process, whom they hire as transcriptionists, and whether they leverage speech recognition technology.
  • Assess your quality needs and calculate the cost of correcting errors from poor accuracy.
  • Test a file to try the workflow.
  • Read customer reviews.

For more tips on how to choose the right closed captioning company for you, download our free whitepaper.

How to Select the Right Closed Captioning Vendor: 10 Crucial Questions to Ask

Read the free report: 2017 State of Captioning.

The closed caption CC icon shown in the middle of a TV.