Making A Business Case for Captioning Publishing Videos

January 23, 2020 BY SAMANTHA SAULD
Updated: May 1, 2020

Many publishing brands and organizations have benefited from incorporating video accessibility into their video process. Accessible video has the power to turn a simple video into an inclusive and engaging experience, which can garner more viewers and potential customers. 

Although captioning is a valuable tool that yields many results, there are still some publishers that wonder if accessible video is worth the investment. We’ll explore the business case for making all publishing videos accessible and the major costs associated with inaccessible videos. By the end of this post, publishers will understand and feel more confident that accessibility delivers a positive return on investment. 

 10 Crucial Questions to Ask A Captioning Vendor ➡️ 

The Rise of Publishing Video 

online video concept

Publishing videos come in many different forms. From presentations and interviews to food and drink recipes, the variety of content is endless. 

Why video? Because it’s an easy and digestible way for publishers to share information and connect with viewers. 

Video is on the rise. About 78% of people are watching videos online every week, and it only seems to be going up from there. By 2020, 84% of the world’s internet traffic will be video. With so much video being produced and consumed, how do publishers distinguish themselves from the rest? Video accessibility, that is! 

The Opportunity 

Improved Viewer Experience

In a study conducted by IBM and Morning Consult, they found that nearly 70% of respondents use captions when streaming videos. Viewers don’t just want captions, they expect them. 

For instructional or informational content, which constitutes a large part of publishing videos, the expectation to find captions were greater. 

graph of content types that viewers expect to see captions. Tips and advice is the highest at 55%, followed by food and news content

Source: Verizon Media and Publicis Media Relationship of Video, Sound and Captions Insight Study, April 2019 


Captions can transform your viewer’s experience by making videos accessible in sound-sensitive environments like in a quiet office or on a noisy train. Many audiences are watching videos without sound, especially when headphones aren’t available. 

Verizon and Publicis Media discovered that 69% of viewers watch videos without sound in public settings and 25% watch videos without sound in private settings. Viewers who prefer a silent viewing experience expect closed captions.

  • 37% of video viewers report that captions encourage them to turn sound on because it’s made them more interested in the video
  • 80% of viewers say they’re more likely to watch an entire video with captions  

Without captions and sound, your videos can’t be viewed. The viewers who prefer to view videos without sound or may have forgotten their headphones will thank you since 41% of videos are incomprehensible without sound. 

Captions also ensure that the auditory information is clear regardless of poor audio, strong accents, and complex language and information. 

Reinforce Brand

There are thousands of hours of video being uploaded to the web in a day. With so much video being watched, how does your video stand out amongst the rest? 

Many brands struggle to attract viewers to watch their videos, let alone keep them to stay. However, the companies that have captioned their videos have seen a tremendous improvement.

“Captioning is important in the publishing space because it expands your audience tremendously.” Dan Fauxsmith, O’Reilly Media

A study from the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science even found that captions improve brand recall, verbal memory, and behavioral intent. Captions truly help your brand stand out! 

Captions are a definitive way to take your brand to the next level and have a lasting impact on your audience.

Boost SEO

Did you know that captioned videos have a direct impact on SEO? It’s true! Search engines aren’t able to watch a video; they can only read text. Therefore, with captions, search bots are able to crawl a transcript to find relevant keywords. 

Captioned videos get more search engine traffic, rank higher in search engine result pages, and rank for more diverse keywords. According to Facebook, videos with captions have 135% greater organic search traffic. 

The Real-Life Results

So how have real companies benefited from video accessibility? Let’s dive in. 

Discovery Digital Networks

graph increasing in a positive direction

Discovery Digital Networks (DDN) is a part of Discovery Communications, a leading media company. They produce original video content for their audience. 

DDN decided to implement captioning and transcription with its videos. Here’s what they found:

  • An overall increase of 7.32% in views for captioned videos 
  • Captioned videos ranked higher in YouTube search results 
  • Videos with captions could provide over 10x the return on investment 


The Cost of Captioning Publishing Videos

The cost of captioning can have two meanings: the actual cost it takes to pay for captioning and the cost or the loss associated with not captioning. In this section, we’ll explore both. 

The Cost of DIY Captions

When it comes to accessibility, cost and budget are the top barriers. A common assumption among many organizations is that the cost of captioning through a third party vendor is more expensive than captioning manually with an in-house team. But is that really true? 

The first step to captioning is video transcription and it’s typically the most time-consuming task. Traditionally, it takes a transcriptionist around 5 hours to transcribe one hour of normal audio or video content. If you’re paying an intern $15 an hour and it takes them 5 hours to transcribe a one-hour video file, that’s $75 for one hour of content. 

(5 hours) x ($15/hour) = $75 for a one-hour video file 

Once you have a transcript, you’ll have to time-synchronize the file. This can be done in a number of ways like automated solutions which can save time, but it’s extremely dependent on the quality of the audio and transcript file. For this purpose, let’s assume the synchronization efforts require an hour of the captioning process. 

(1 hour) x ($15/hour) = $15 for a one-hour video file 

Now the cost is $90 per hour of content.

The next step is quality assurance or QA. This step ensures that the caption file is accurate. We also have to include operational costs which factor in the management of how many videos need to be captioned. If it takes the intern a half an hour to ensure quality and paying a manager to overlook the process, prices can rise to an astonishing $165 for a one-hour video file

The Cost of Third-Party Solutions

coins stacked on each other

If you have a ton of video content, you may quickly realize that sustaining an in-house captioning process can get very expensive. The more practical and affordable way is through a captioning vendor. 

Many vendors charge by the minute and range anywhere between $1-$15 per minute. That means that if you have a one-hour video file, you could be spending $60-$900. This doesn’t always include the added fees that some vendors charge for multiple speakers, a variety of caption formats, resubmissions, turnaround times, or certain video player integrations. 

Additionally, not all vendors guarantee a 99% accuracy rate. When choosing a vendor, be sure to ask about any fees and their accuracy rate. 

The Cost of NOT Captioning

Inaccessible videos can indeed cost a lot of money in the long run. The two main reasons are lost revenue opportunities and legal ramifications. 

There are about 1 billion people worldwide living with a disability. Captions make videos more accessible to people with sensory or learning disabilities, such as hearing loss or Dyslexia. 

Did you know? 71% of people with disabilities leave a website immediately if it’s inaccessible. Making your content accessible allows everyone to enjoy your content. 

When brands exclude groups of people, they miss out on a massive market. According to the Return on Disability Group, $1 trillion of annual income is missed when brands don’t make their content accessible. 

Many people invest in brands that are progressive. If companies aren’t inclusive, they can risk a tarnished brand reputation and fall by the wayside. 

Another cost of inaccessible video is legal damages. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a broad anti-discrimination law that protects people with disabilities. It requires that brands make their content accessible to everyone. Many companies have been sued for inaccessible content like Amazon, Netflix, and many more.

It’s much better to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to accessibility. Inaccessible content can put you at risk of a lawsuit. If brands want to avoid millions of dollars in attorney fees and legal damages, they must do the right thing by making their content accessible. 

Video accessibility positively impacts businesses. When partnering with a video accessibility vendor, here’s what to ask:

learn how to select the right vendor. Discover the 10 crucial questions to ask when selecting a closed captioning. Download the free guide




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