10 Questions to Ask a Live Automatic Captioning Vendor

December 16, 2020 BY AJ BELTIS
Updated: July 9, 2021

When you write, record, edit, and release a video, you’re typically able to give your team the necessary time to caption your video content. However, with live video, you don’t exactly have that luxury.

Live video affords many opportunities not available for traditional pre-recorded video content, such as a view time 10-20 times longer than on-demand video. Unfortunately, the logistical issues that come from captioning delays are so inevitable that even the FCC acknowledges “a slight delay in the delivery of live captions.”

Delayed or inaccurate captions for live audio are a serious concern for viewers who need closed captioning due to hearing loss, or even those dealing with environmental circumstances causing them to temporarily rely on captions.

This is where a live automatic captioning solution comes in. When enabled, accurate live captioning makes your live video content more accessible – and selecting a live automatic captioning vendor is not an investment to take lightly.

If you’re in the market for a video live captioning solution, ask these questions to your potential vendors to see if you’re partnering with the best provider to meet your needs.

1. What is your average accuracy rate?

Even with the anticipated delay and related hurdles of live automatic captioning (LAC), vendors should be able to get as close as possible to the industry standard of 99% caption accuracy.

Hitting that magic number of 99% isn’t easy – even The U.S. House of Representatives set its own bar at 98.6%. However, it’s important to note that longer video files tend to have a lower accuracy rate – and since it’s common for live video to run longer than pre-recorded video, increasing accuracy rate with the right LAC tool decreases the chance of seeing more total (and a higher percentage of) captioning errors.

 View the FREE White Paper: Understanding Live Automatic Captioning Quality ➡️ 
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2. What ASR engine do you use?

Automatic speech recognition, or ASR, is the key to accurate live captioning. Unfortunately, not all ASRs offer the same accuracy and reliability, so you’ll want to ensure the speech-to-text tool can meet your demands for speed and clarity, even when the audio quality is in question.

Here at 3Play, we partner with Speechmatics, which has been an industry leader for more than a decade. We’ve officially upgraded our ASR engine for Live Auto Captioning to Speechmatics v2 Real-Time.

3. What is the process like to get started with live automatic captioning?

The demand for live video content has never been higher – and it’s growing – which means an efficient onboarding process is a must. That means your vendor should be prepared to get your team educated on how you’ll be using the product for live automatic captioning and explain how long the process will take from becoming a customer until you can start using the tool.

A good LAC vendor will provide you with resources to map out your process of getting started with them, like a Quick Start Guide and a Choose Your Plan tool.

4. Do you offer an upgrade path for full captioning or additional services?

As imperative as live captioning is, it’s only a piece of the larger puzzle for video captioning and accessibility. As you create more video content, your live audio captioning vendor would ideally be able to support you in those realms and more. Talk to your potential vendor about these options and see if the company meets your needs in them:

  • Captioning for recorded videos.
  • Transcription services.
  • Audio description.
  • Translation and subtitling services.

5. Do you allow customers to provide a wordlist or glossary of terms?

One common fear when it comes to live captioning is complex terms being incorrectly recognized and the wrong words displaying. For example, if you’re live streaming about “CRM software,” you wouldn’t want captions to display the phrase as “see are M software.”

A proactive solution to this issue is a wordlist, where users can submit a list of words and terms that will be used in the video alongside the best way for those words to be presented, spelled, capitalized, and punctuated.

Since LAC vendors who do not provide a wordlist could be setting up clients for persistent issues when it comes to key terms, this question should not be avoided in these conversations.

6. Which platforms do you integrate with?

Live video thrives on platforms with built-in audiences and user bases – and live automatic captioning is most necessary on these platforms. When speaking with potential vendors, ask them if they integrate with leading live streaming platforms, such as:

Someone talking and someone typing on a computer

7. What output formats are provided after the event?

Live captioning serves your live audience, but what happens after the stream ends?

For those who want to repurpose their video content on their website or quote the video in articles or blog posts, an output in their preferred text format is key. Ask caption providers what their options are for caption output formats to ensure your video content isn’t one-and-done.

8. What does the workflow look like?

A successful integration will ensure a smooth LAC experience, thus minimizing any impact on existing workflows that line up captions with a live stream.

Unfortunately, not all vendors have integration partners to support LAC on all live streaming platforms, meaning some workflows will need to be uniquely developed and employed. Speak to these potential vendors about how successful their LAC workflows have been in the past and what they do to create these workflows to better understand if the company can meet your needs.

9. What is the cost for live auto captioning?

A thorough cost-benefit analysis is an important step in any buying decision. For live automatic captioning vendors, here are a few factors to consider – as well as some questions to ask for each – which will help you land on the best solution for your organization.

  • Pricing Model: Are services charged by the minute or hour? Is there a minimum charge per video? Will prices be rounded up to the nearest minute?
  • Other Fees: Will vendors require additional payment to identify speakers, or deliver captions in certain formats?
  • Bulk Discounts: If it is constantly churning out live video content, will your organization be able to save money in the long run by securing a bulk discount from the vendor?
  • Value: Does the benefit to your organization outweigh the cost? Does the vendor’s cost deliver the best value compared to other potential vendors?

10. Do you offer customer support?

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An often overlooked aspect of any service, customer support is an aspect for your LAC solution that should be strongly considered. Depending on the amount of live content your organization is producing, a reliable support experience – when needed – could be necessary to ensure captions are accurate and your content is accessible.

See if vendors have a knowledge base, training videos, and customer success reps who are ready to help you use the LAC product to its fullest extent.

Securing a Live Automatic Captioning Vendor

Equipped with this list of questions, you’ll be prepared to determine which solution is the best live automatic captioning vendor for your organization – giving you the ability to create an abundance of accessible, engaging video content on your preferred live streaming platform.

To learn more about finding the right vendor, download the Live Automatic Captioning Quality white paper today!

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