The State of Captioning 2019 Report Is Here

March 13, 2019 BY JACLYN LEDUC

It’s been over a year since we last reported on the state of captioning, and with 2019 in full swing, it’s time for an update.

Go to the report

The annual State of Captioning (SOC) report by 3Play Media is the destination for discovering captioning trends across industries like higher education, corporate, media & entertainment, government, and religious organizations. The purpose of this report is to paint a picture of how organizations implement and perceive captioning, and the findings within the report are beneficial for content marketers, web accessibility advocates, and anyone else interested in video accessibility trends. The data was collected through a survey which was distributed via email and social media. Over 1,000 respondents shared their uses and perceptions of captioning for online video.

If you’re ready to dive in, head on over to the State of Captioning 2019 report.

Curious to learn a little more? Keep scrolling for a sneak peek into some noteworthy findings from the report.

Spoiler Alert

In 2019, we decided to capture data on things like captioning behaviors, automatic caption usage, and captioning barriers and drivers. Since last year’s SOC report, several things have remained the same, but much has changed, too. Trust us, you won’t want to miss these new insights.

What Stayed the Same?

Some findings from the 2019 State of Captioning remained in line with 2018 revealing a continuing pattern in areas like video platform usage and captioning drivers.

People Really Love YouTube

YouTube remains the most-used video platform for captioned videos for the second year in a row. When we asked respondents on which video platforms they are currently captioning, 32% reported that they’re captioning video hosted on YouTube. Facebook came in second at 12%.

YouTube has an automatic captioning feature which is handy, but it has its downsides. Automatic caption accuracy rates only go as high as 80% under good conditions and as poor as 50% under bad conditions. If you’re using YouTube’s automatic captions, be sure that you conduct a quality check and edit inaccurate captions before publishing your video.

Legal Compliance Is a Big Motivator for Captioning

When asked about main drivers for captioning in 2018, 26% of respondents said that legal compliance was the top driver, 22% said engagement, and 20% said learning enhancement. In 2019, things stayed similar. 28% said that legal compliance was the top driver, 22% said engagement, and 22% said learning enhancement.

It seems that people are captioning for three main reasons: legal compliance, user engagement, and learning enhancement.

Captioning drivers are what motivate organizations to caption their video content. The top three captioning drivers haven’t changed in the past year. In 2018, legal compliance as a driver took the cake (26% of respondents), user engagement came in second (22%), and learning enhancement trailed not too far behind (20%). In the 2019 report, these numbers grew by a few points, but the order remains the same.

This finding shows that people recognize that the benefits of captioning go beyond making videos accessible.

What’s New?

On the other hand, many insights were brought to light that differed from the results of 2018. Below are just a couple of up-and-coming captioning trends.

Getting Buy-in for Captioning Is a Priority

This year, 67% of respondents indicated that their budgets have stayed the same since last year. Only 3% said that their budgets are decreasing, and the other 30% reported that their budgets are increasing.

In 2018, 18% of respondents reported that their captioning budgets were $0, but in 2019, that number grew to 29%. Additionally, respondents reported that cost and budget were the number one barrier to captioning in both 2018 and 2019. With zero-dollar captioning budgets increasing slightly, what are captioning advocates to do?

There are many ways to get buy-in for captioning from decision makers. You can build awareness around the importance of captioning by hosting an accessibility-focused “lunch n’ learn” at your company or by demonstrating the ROI captioning like its ability to boost SEO.

Not at all is lost! Get out there, showcase the many benefits that captions have to offer, and demonstrate how a captioning budget can improve your organization.

Fewer People Are Using Automatic Captions

In 2019, a substantial amount of respondents indicated that they don’t use automatic captions, and that’s a good thing.

When respondents were asked how they use automatic captions, 37% said they start with captions and then edit them, 36% said they don't use automatic captions at all, and 5% only use automatic captions. The remaining 22% indicated other uses of automatic captions.

When respondents were asked how they use automatic captions, 36% said they don’t use them at all. This is a considerable improvement from 2018, where less than 1% of respondents said they don’t use automatic captions at all. Instead, more people reported that they start with automatic captions and then edit them. 27% of respondents are using a mix of in-house captioning efforts and third-party solutions to power their captioning efforts.

This is great news. Automatic captions are typically no more than 80% accurate which is not considered accessible. The increased effort to provide accurate captions is a step in the right direction for online video accessibility.


Alright, you got your teaser. Now, what are you waiting for? Go check out the State of Captioning 2019 report!

We’ll meet you there.

Read the State of Captioning 2019 report

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