© Copyright 3Play Media

Sound bar

STATE OF CAPTIONING

2018

INTRODUCTION

2017

2018

DECREASING

STAYING THE SAME

INCREASING

More video content is uploaded to the web in 1 month than TV has created in 3 decades.

78% of people are watching videos online every week. 

In 2017, online video accounted for 74% of all online traffic.

By 2019, 80% of the world’s internet traffic will be video.

Clapperboard
Popcorn
Stop light
Play button

To truly understand captioning needs and trends, we first have to take a step back and look at the trends of video itself. Video is growing exponentially, according to both our survey data, as well as larger-scale data showing greater trends in our society.


OVERVIEW OF VIDEO/CAPTIONING TRENDS

While the increase in video has not seemed to deter people from approaching accessibility, trends are showing that video publishers and producers are moving toward different and additional platforms. One place we have seen big changes is with social video.

Video production and consumption are growing rapidly. At the start of 2018, people are creating more video content than they were a year ago. We wondered if this big increase in video would be intimidating as far as accessibility. Would people give up altogether?

Social media can sometimes seem like a world of its own. The same is true when it comes to captioning on social media compared with captioning on other video publishing platforms. Take, for example, the captioning driver. 71% of survey respondents report that the main driver for captioning social media videos is to make them accessible, whereas the main driver for captioning all videos (including both social media and non-social media videos) is legal compliance.

This difference in driver may seem strange, until you consider the context. On social media, the main goal is views and engagement. It can be inferred that the term “accessible” in the social media space includes other benefits of captioning.  Accessible social videos may be videos that are accessible to all users, improve SEO, and increase interaction and engagement.

One reason that automatic captions are being more widely used may be because of increasing amounts of content. Automatic captions are a reasonable stepping stone as institutions struggle to keep up with so much content and increasingly enforced laws. However, they have many shortcomings when used on their own without human editing, and are not accurate enough to be considered a viable long term solution, especially as an accommodation. Automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology for automated assistant applications (like Siri and Alexa) is pretty good, but these are vastly different from the captioning/transcription task. Best case scenario, ASR can achieve approximately 90% accuracy, but with multiple speakers, low quality audio, heavy accents, etc. the rates can be as poor as 50%. Not only is this frustrating and unhelpful for the user, but several lawsuits over the last decade have focused on not just whether or not captions are provided, but the accuracy and comprehensiveness of said captions. 

facebook icon with 17% shaded in

PUBLISH VIDEO ON SOCIAL

17% of people who say they are publishing video content on social media are also using automatic captions

USE AUTOMATIC CAPTIONS

two images icon
auto icon
twitter icon
Gif of music video playing with captions

80% of viewers react negatively to videos autoplaying with sound.

When choosing to caption, there are many considerations an organization must weigh. Oftentimes there are drivers to caption, such as legal requirements, an accommodation request, or accessibility compliance, as well as barriers to implementing captioning, such as cost, budget, and resource time. Finding a balance between all of these items is critical.


PRIORITIES

CHALLENGES


IMPLEMENTATION

Captioning budgets have increased over the last year, implying that there is a greater awareness around the need for captioning, and the cost necessary to meet these needs. Even with this increase in budget from 2017 to 2018, cost/budget was still reported as the biggest barrier to captioning. This is unsurprising, as more video is also being produced, so while a step in the right direction, the increase in budget that these organizations have received is not great enough. 


FINAL THOUGHTS

When it comes to captioning priorities, we can look at both the main barrier to captioning and the main driver for captioning as good indicators of priority. The main barrier across industry is cost/budget, while the main driver is legal compliance. While cost/budget is self-explanatory, legal compliance is a bit more complex. If we take a moment to explore some of the components that make up legal compliance, we should consider accuracy/quality as well as the amount of resources needed to caption content. Therefore, we can determine that the three main priorities include cost, quality, and amount of resources needed to implement captioning.

Another interesting trend we looked at with implementation is how people know that their captions are high quality. We know that quality is important to many, and an indicator of legal compliance, however, it seems organizations are relying heavily on feedback back from end-users, rather than quality-checking their content themselves. Fewer than half  (47%) of respondents said they always review captions, although 89% of organizations reported their captions as high quality or generally high quality. This is a significant finding for several reasons, including that quality is crucial to legal compliance, as we have seen with several recent lawsuits. Additionally, quality is a key factor in many organizations' evaluation of vendors and decision-making. Thirdly, quality has an impact on the experience of the end user, whether that be for education, SEO, etc.

government looking building

LEGAL COMPLIANCE IS MAIN DRIVER

gavel icon

USE AUTOMATIC CAPTIONS

auto icon

We can infer that this is true because even if they were given data on these topics, if an organization simply does not have the resources or budget to implement captions, they would still not be able to do so no matter what the data proves. Similarly, if the most important reason an organization is captioning is legal compliance, better understanding how captions benefit the topics above will be irrelevant because they do not change the legal requirements.

195 PEOPLE CAPTION BY REQUEST ONLY

65 PEOPLE CAPTION  MOST POPULAR CONTENT

141 PEOPLE CAPTION AS MUCH AS THEY CAN AFFORD

67% consider cost/budget  their biggest barrier

30% consider legal compliance as their main driver

65% of these people said cost/budget was biggest barrier

25% of these people said legal compliance was main driver

33% of these people said legal compliance was main driver

77% of these people said cost/budget was biggest barrier

How many organizations publish more than 500 hours of video content annually?

Respondents Who Caption ALL Video

The Facts and Figures

road image
Gif of man signing "cheer"

Captioned video still only represents a subset of all video published on social media sites. Only 70% of the respondents who said they are publishing or producing social media video content reported that they are also captioning video on these social sites. While this is still a significant discrepancy between the amount of content published on social sites and the amount of content captioned on these sites, the encouraging news is that there has been an increase in captioning social media content from the prior year.

Where are we heading?

Is the industry of online video growing too rapidly to keep up with captioning content?

With online video growing so rapidly and technology changing so quickly, where does this leave us in terms of accessibility?

2017

2018

17%

29%

36%

2018

2017

34%

2017

2018

2018

2017

Fortunately, the answer is no! People are not shying away from captioning this content. We observed a small increase in the percentage of respondents who caption ALL video in 2018 compared to 2017.

Gif of 3 facebook looking people bending over to look at their mobile devices

The sheer amount of video being published on social media sites is increasing.

39% publish video on Facebook

23% publish video on Facebook

2018

2017

While the trend of posting videos to social media is ubiquitous across industries, there are some industries that publish a higher percentage of their video content to social media as compared with others. These industries include web video content creators, government agencies, private enterprise that use video publicly or internally, and media and entertainment.

CAPTION VIDEOS THAT THEY PUBLISH ON YOUTUBE

CAPTION VIDEOS THAT THEY PUBLISH ON FACEBOOK

CAPTION VIDEOS THAT THEY PUBLISH ON FACEBOOK

CAPTION VIDEOS THAT THEY PUBLISH ON YOUTUBE

63%

20%

8%

70%

2017 versus 2018

twitter icon
quote symbol
quote symbol

Barriers & Drivers: 

Finding the Sweet Spot

pens with 11% shaded in
two people shaking hands with 23% shaded in

describe their level of influence on the decision to caption as being the primary decision makers

of these people...

describe their level of influence on the decision to caption as having a lot of influence

23%

11%

838 people (68%) answered YES to the question, "Do you know what accessibility laws apply to you?"

integration link icon

Video and the need for accessibility are not going anywhere. Video content will continue to flourish and organizations see their captioning needs continuing to increase. Only 1% of respondents see their captioning needs decreasing next year, whereas 68% see their needs increasing “moderately” or “significantly”.

Thanks for reading our second annual State of Captioning report. In our 2017 report, we told you that a majority of 2017 survey respondents expected captioning needs to increase over the following year. This year we will take a close look at the state of captioning in 2018 and determine if captioning needs really did increase over the year, and if so, why and how.  

The data provided in this report will equip you with a better understanding of the status of video, as it relates to accessibility. You will gain a deeper understanding of the reasons organizations are captioning - referred to as drivers, what stands in their way of captioning - referred to as barriers, and how they  implement captioning. We will also take a look at some of the trends in captioning, uses for captioning, and how those have changed over the course of the year. Well, what are you waiting for?

Captioning priorities, drivers, and barriers, should all be related and go hand-in-hand. Frequently, however, these factors all seem to be in direct opposition with each other, often leaving people at a standstill when it comes to implementing captioning. When we consider the three priorities of why people are captioning – cost, quality, and amount of content – you might realize right away that these are three things that are difficult to achieve at the same time. It’s very difficult to find high quality captions for a low enough price point to caption all your content when budget is the main barrier. This leaves us in a bit of a pickle, so to speak.

When we asked what is prioritized when selecting a captioning vendor, people reported that the number one priority when selecting a vendor is price, and a close second is accuracy. Similar to the drivers and barriers dilemma, it’s very challenging to find the sweet spot where price and accuracy intersect. Unfortunately, all too often, the saying “you get what you pay for” is pretty true. 

It’s not surprising that legal compliance is considered a main driver for captioning implementation, since accuracy is a key component to legal compliance. However, quite contradictory, 43% of respondents noted that they prioritize video by request, what they can afford, or popularity, as opposed to what the law requires. The image below takes a closer look at this discrepancy.

SWEET SPOT

accuracy

cost

content

quality

legal 

compliance

resource time

request

requirement

bar graph icon

HOW CAPTIONS IMPACT LEARNING OUTCOMES

HOW CAPTIONS IMPACT VIEWER ENGAGEMENT

HOW CAPTIONS IMPACT NUMBER OF VIEWS

HOW CAPTIONS IMPACT SEO

HOW CAPTIONS IMPACT ROI

graph icon
graph icon
pie graph icon
bar graph icon
image of a head with a sound wave coming from the mouth
speaker

Having an understanding of the barriers, drivers and priorities to captioning is crucial in understanding the implementation of captioning within organizations.

The way organizations are dealing with captioning seems to be improving. More organizations understand the importance of having a centralized process for implementing captions, and more organizations have already created processes or are currently doing so. 

In 2017, 38% of respondents answered that they currently have a centralized process , while 17% said they are establishing one currently. 

In the 2018 survey, we observed a drastic increase in organizations who have a process as well as those who are currently establishing one. 43% said yes and 20% said they are establishing one now. This indicates huge progress in implementing captioning. 

There is a serious need and want for the “sweet spot” of captioning that provides high-quality and accurate captions at a lower cost.

of respondents see their captioning needs decreasing next year

of respondents see their captioning needs increasing next year

This intense growth spurt leaves us with some questions about the future of video accessibility, and changes that may occur.

How do you expect your captioning needs to change in the next year?

Social Video

Automatic Captions

Another challenge to implementing captions is that those who are knowledgeable about accessibility laws are not decision-makers in charge of captioning.

In other words... only a third of the people who are knowledgeable about accessibility laws have a significant influence over the decision to caption.

car icon
world icon with solid color
street closure icon

LEGAL COMPLIANCE

COST/BUDGET

car icon

LEGAL COMPLIANCE

Consider social videos that autoplay on silent. Unless you have captions turned on, these are not accessible – even to individuals who are hearing. Social videos are often watched on public transportation, at work, or in other places where sound may not be an option if you don’t have headphones readily available. That’s why captions are a must!

car icon
car icon

ACCESSIBILITY

world icon

quality

how much content being captioned

type of content/institution

accuracy

price of captioning

Takeaways

twitter icon
two photos icon
facebook icon
hello icon
follow icon

Legal compliance is the number one driver for captioning. Results of several recent lawsuits have implied that the quality of captions is vital in whether or not they are legally compliant. In 2015, the National Association for the Deaf (NAD) filed a suit against MIT and Harvard for violating the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) and Rehabilitation Act for failing to provide accurate and comprehensive captioning for online course materials. Similarly, in the NAD versus Amazon case, it was decided that closed captions on Amazon video must comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) caption quality standards for accuracy, placement, timing, and completeness. Despite mixed implications regarding priorities, the law tells us that caption accuracy and quality is crucial if you want to avoid potential litigation.

Lawsuits

With video continuing to increase, and laws being more heavily enforced, captioning needs will also increase. This will drive an increased budget.

People are starting to get more organized and ready to implement captioning. They are creating policies and working toward centralization. This is a long and slow process, however, so there are still big challenges ahead.

There is  still room for major improvement in terms of education and awareness surrounding the need and legal requirements for captioning, and centralization.

It appears that there is some confusion around caption quality and legal compliance for captioning, as many people are not testing or reviewing their captions after they are processed.

Rapid changes to technology cause changes in the need for and usage of captioning

There has been a huge increase in social video, which has shifted trends and created new needs for captions.

laptop with 58% shaded in
person at the chalkboard with people watching with 24% of the image shaded in
briefcase with 43% shaded in
church with 37% shaded in
building with 49% shaded in
microphone with 40% shaded in
graduation cap on a head with 32% shaded in
children crossing sign with 25% shaded in

WEB VIDEO CONTENT CREATOR

HIGHER EDUCATION

K-12 SCHOOL

GOVERNMENT AGENCY

CHURCH OR RELIGIOUS BROADCASTER

PRIVATE ENTERPRISE THAT USES VIDEO PUBLICLY OR INTERNALLY

PRIVATE COMPANY THAT PRODUCES/ DISTRIBUTES EDU CONTENT

MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT

58% on social

40% on social

24% on social

43% on social

25% on social

49% on social

32% on social

37% on social

Industries including religious organizations, higher education institutions, K-12 schools, and private companies that produce/distribute educational content are publishing a smaller percentage of their video on social media.

The road to accessibility is long and winding, but there are so many benefits at the end.

amazon arrow
computer icon with arrow pointing up to the right
lightbulb icon
books

Throughout this report we will reference these questions. While many of the questions discussed throughout don't have simple answers, the data we collected allows us to make intelligent inferences to foster conversation and discussion around these topics.

Percent of video content published to social media

41% of videos are incomprehensible without sound or captions.

budget of organization

THOSE KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT LAWS

THOSE MAKING THE DECISION TO CAPTION

While increased budgets and additional resources would resolve many of the barriers to captioning, this is not always a possibility. We observed an increase in the use of automatic captions this year, which we can attribute to the need for an affordable option for rapidly captioning large amounts of content, as well as increased publishing on social media platforms (many of which provide automatic captioning tools.) 

Another possible reason for this increase in automatic captions could be the shift in platforms where people are publishing video. A greater number of videos are being published on social media sites, which have begun to offer free tools for automatic captions. However, the data does not show any significant implications that this hypothesis is correct, so we can infer that this move toward automatic captions has more to do with the overall increased amount of video content being produced, and the fact that automatic captions are cheaper and faster to produce than captions outsourced to a professional vendor.  

15% of people who say legal compliance is their main driver are also using automatic captions

ABOUT 3PLAY MEDIA

3Play Media provides closed captioning, transcription, and audio description to more than 2,500 customers in higher education, enterprise, entertainment, and government. 3Play Media simplifies the process of making videos accessible through flexible APIs, integrations with video players and platforms, simple plugins, and a user-friendly online account system. 3Play Media is based in Boston, Massachusetts, and has been operating since 2007.

3Play Media
34 Farnsworth St, 4th Floor 

Boston, MA 02134

Website – http://www.3playmedia.com 
Email – info@3playmedia.com
Phone – (617) 764-5189

2017

2017

2018

2018

Organizations Which Identified Budget as Biggest Barrier

Organizations with an Annual Captioning Budget Over $10,000

a report by

It was reported by survey respondents that legal compliance is the biggest driver for captioning video content. This being the case, one might expect video to be prioritized for captioning by the amount required by law. 

Survey results indicate, however, that this is not the case, and captioning is more often prioritized by request, popularity of content, and affordability. The takeaway is that many organizations want to be legally compliant with captioning, but because cost and budget is the biggest barrier, when it comes down to prioritizing what content to caption, there is only so much they can get done.  This is confirmed by the response we got when we asked how data on several topics would impact an organizations' decision to caption. The following topics were reported to have no impact on the decision.

How do you prioritize videos for captioning?

When asked about organizational policies specifically for monitoring captioning compliance, a greater number had developed policies between 2017 and 2018, while about the same percentage of organizations were in the process of establishing policies from year to year.

 “Does your organization have a clear policy for captioning compliance?” 24% said yes and 21% said no but we are establishing some now in the 2017 survey. This year 31% said yes and 20% said no but we are establishing some now. From this increase, we can infer that there is an increased understanding and awareness of the need for a policy to monitor captioning compliance.

computer icon with arrow pointing up to the right

 Does your organization have a clear policy for monitoring captioning compliance?

21%

20%

31%

24%

2017

2017

2018

2018

Yes

No, but we are establishing one now

Policies, and procedures, and process - oh my!

One area that still seems to be a big challenge across organizations is who is overseeing captioning and who controls the budget. For many organizations, the captioning budget is housed in more than one office or department. Both last year and this year, organizations reported that multiple departments oversee captioning at institutions. Which departments these are varies greatly from institution to institution.

Organizational and Quality Trends

32%

16%

64%

58%

47%

53%

Do you review your captions?

Sometimes, never

Always

63%

8%

20%

70%

2017

2018

2017

2018