Captioning Trends for YouTube and Facebook in 2019

March 25, 2019 BY JACLYN LEDUC
Updated: July 23, 2019

The popularity of YouTube and Facebook have been proven time and again. YouTube is the second largest video platform in the world – second only to Google. The amount of video hosted on YouTube is insurmountable, with nearly 500 hours of video uploaded to the platform each hour. Facebook has become a video powerhouse of its own in recent years. One Facebook study found that users watch over 100 million hours of video on the platform each day.

The growing trend of publishing video content on YouTube and Facebook hasn’t gone unnoticed, but what about publishing captioned video?

Read the State of Captioning 2019 Report

For the 2018 State of Captioning survey, we asked respondents to tell us on which video platforms they were currently publishing captioned video. The most-used platforms across the board were YouTube and Facebook, with 68.5% of respondents captioning on YouTube and 20.3% on Facebook.

After we conducted the 2019 State of Captioning survey, we began to see a pattern. Just like last year, YouTube and Facebook remained the top most-used video platforms for captioned videos, with 70% of respondents captioning on YouTube and 26% on Facebook.

For this post, we set out to discover more about video accessibility on the two most popular video platforms for captioned video. You’ll learn more as we delve further into the State of Captioning 2019 report and explore several YouTube and Facebook trends to expect this year.

YouTube and Facebook Use By Industry

Let’s first begin by analyzing YouTube and Facebook use by industry. The State of Captioning report surveyed respondents from several industries, including Education, Private Enterprise, and Government.

Higher education and content creators use YouTube the most, and private companies that produce or distribute educational videos use it the least. However, all industries still use YouTube more than any other video platform.

Publishing Captioning Video on YouTube by per cent of industry: Higher Education, 77%. Content Creators, 85%. Private Companies, 53%.

Content creators and the faith industry indicated that they use Facebook the most, whereas higher education uses it the least. Despite this discrepancy, Facebook remains the second-most used video platform across all industries.

Publishing Captioned Video on Facebook by per cent of industry: Faith, 50%. Content Creators, 54%. Higher Education, 17%.

Overall, while some industries prefer one over the other, YouTube and Facebook are consistently the most and second-most used video platforms across the board.

Automatic Caption Use on YouTube and Facebook

The State of Captioning 2019 report revealed that many are still divided on their use of automatic captions. We asked respondents to let us know how they use automatic captions. Here’s how they responded:

Automatic caption use in 2019: Start with automatic captions and then edit them ourselves (37%) Use a service that starts with automatic captions then edits them (9%) Use automatic captions for some of our captioning needs (14%) We use automatic captions for all of our captioning need (5%) We don’t use automatic captions at all (36%)

Due to the low accuracy rate of automatic captions, we were relieved to see that many are moving away from solely using automatic captions for their videos. However, because both YouTube and Facebook have an automatic captioning tool, we were curious to see just how many people are using automatic captions on these two platforms specifically.

Of respondents who use automatic captions then edit them, 26% publish video on Facebook and 79% publish on YouTube.

Of those that said they start with automatic captions and then edit the captions for quality after, 79% also host their video on YouTube, and 26% do so on Facebook.

Of respondents who only use automatic captions, 18% publish video on Facebook and 55% publish on YouTube.

Of those that indicated that they use automatic captions for all captioning needs, 55% are using YouTube, and 18% are using Facebook to publish their video.

Of respondents who don't use automatic captions, 25% publish video on Facebook and 60% publish on YouTube.

Of those that don’t use automatic captions at all, 60% use YouTube and 25% use Facebook.

It’s clear that YouTube and Facebook are the top video platforms for many people regardless of their captioning behavior. But what’s also clear is that respondents publishing video to YouTube and Facebook may be approaching video accessibility differently:

Some have opted to take advantage of automatic captioning tools, but recognize that automatic captions are not incredibly accurate. We predict that many people from this group are utilizing YouTube and Facebook’s automatic captioning tools, but they also choose to edit those captions to ensure that they’re accurate.

Automatic captions are usually between 60-80% accurate.

Another portion of respondents relies heavily on using automatic captioning tools as their only method of captioning. If this group is mainly publishing video on Facebook and YouTube, it’s likely that they’re using the captioning tools provided on these two platforms. While these tools are a great starting point, automatic captions alone are not accurate enough to be used on their own. Automatic captions are typically within the 60-80% accuracy range, and they only reach around 80% accuracy with perfect audio conditions.

There’s also a group that isn’t using automatic captions at all for their YouTube and Facebook videos. This could mean that they aren’t captioning their videos at all, or they’re utilizing other captioning solutions such as a third-party vendor. The former is not so great for video accessibility, whereas the latter is often the most cost and time efficient method.

So, what’s the takeaway in this case? It’s great to use YouTube and Facebook’s automatic captioning tools as a first step in the captioning process, especially if you’re doing captions in-house, but it’s important to remember that automatic captions must be checked by a human for accuracy to be genuinely accessible.

Why Are People Captioning on Social Media?

We each have our own motivations for captioning. For some, it’s to stay compliant with legal requirements. For others, it’s to improve the user experience. This left us wondering, for what reason are people captioning their social video, particularly on Facebook and YouTube?

% of people captioning video on social media for accessibility: 79% YouTube, 71% Facebook.

It’s worth noting that 71% of people who caption their Facebook videos and 79% who publish captioned videos on YouTube do so to make their videos accessible.

Adding captions to YouTube and Facebook videos is relatively simple, which is good news for video accessibility advocates. Both YouTube and Facebook offer a free automatic captioning tool which makes it easy to go back and manually edit errors in the caption file. YouTube is also a free video platform, so organizations can host their videos at no additional cost to them. Free captioning tools and video platforms are appealing to many people – 35% of SOC respondents indicated that cost and budget were their most significant barrier to captioning.

That’s not to say that using automatic captioning tools doesn’t have it’s downsides when it comes to video accessibility. As noted earlier, before editing, Facebook and YouTube’s automatic captions are not accurate and therefore not accessible. Unless the user is editing the caption files and doing a quality check, automatic captions are a real problem for video accessibility.

The process of editing automatic captions requires more resources and time and could end up costing organizations more in the long-run. 38% of SOC respondents said that resource time was the main barrier to captioning. If that’s the case, it may be worthwhile to employ a captioning service. If a company opts to use a third-party vendor to caption their videos, which 68% of respondents reported as the case, it’s a simple process to upload the caption file to Facebook and YouTube and can save companies a good deal of time.

Video Marketing on YouTube and Facebook

Using video marketing on YouTube and Facebook is not a new concept – many companies use videos to help build brand awareness and to drive more traffic to their site. Making marketing videos accessible with accurate captions could increase view time by 12%. However, a video with bad captions or with no captions at all could leave your videos with far less engagement.

% Using Automatic Captions for Video Marketing on YouTube: 86%

Because search engines can only index text content and can’t watch video content, it’s difficult for uncaptioned videos to rank highly in SERPs. However, when you associate an accurate caption file with a video, it gives search engines the opportunity to “watch” the video by reading the captions. An inaccurate caption file, on the other hand, can get your video ranked for the wrong keywords or potentially marked as spam. Yikes!

% Using Automatic Captions for Video Marketing on Facebook: 42%

In the State of Captioning 2019 report, 86% of people using automatic captioning for marketing videos indicated that they were publishing that video on YouTube. Another 42% from that same pool reported publishing their video on Facebook. This trend may have negative implications on video marketing due to the inaccurate nature of automatic captions.

Solely relying on automatic caption tools just isn’t enough to make your videos accessible. Many users who come across a video never turn the sound on at all, and they rely on closed captions to gather the message from the video. Facebook reported that 80% of its users react negatively to videos auto-playing with sound. Therefore, users may be more likely to scroll past or leave a video with poor captions.

Inaccurate captions for marketing videos can be detrimental to the success of the video campaign. If you’re currently using automatic captions for YouTube and Facebook videos, be sure that you take the extra step and edit those captions to ensure quality. To make things even simpler, you may consider using a captioning vendor that guarantees at least 99% accuracy for all caption files regardless of difficulty, and on the first try.


To find out more about current captioning trends across multiple industries, check out the State of Captioning 2019 report. If you’re publishing video on Facebook, YouTube, or anywhere else, don’t delay – get started with captioning!

Start captioning today or learn more about 3Play Media.

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