Why Subtitling Is Essential for Global Media Distribution: Unlocking Access for All Audiences


When talking about global media distribution, in today’s interconnected world, the demand is greater than ever before. There are streaming platforms, satellite TV, and online video sharing. That represents content creators with unprecedented opportunities to reach audiences all around the world. 

However, to truly engage everyone, one key aspect to implement is subtitling your videos. The practice of displaying text on screen alongside audio plays a crucial role in breaking down language barriers. Subtitling, even if it’s often overlooked, is making content accessible to a global audience. 

One survey says 76% of people in the USA and UK said they prefer subtitles when watching videos. That is encouraging news for companies and individual creators who prefer videos as a means of communication with their target audience. 

Naturally, it’s not only about conveniences or numbers. Sometimes it’s about making your audience feel welcome and respected knowing that you did your best to translate the content. Quoting Nelson Mandela: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

Cultural inclusivity

Cultural inclusivity

Cultural inclusivity is the heart of global media distribution. Cultures around the globe are different–they have distinct nuances, idioms, and linguistic subtleties. All this can only enrich the storytelling experience. 

This might be a bit challenging when translating, but distribution teams and media production companies are using subtitles as a standard practice. For these companies, subtitling is an essential tool that keeps the authenticity of the content. It also preserves the cultural context of narratives. At the same time, video content is accessible to everyone all around the world. 

So far, media production companies and independent creators have recognized the significance of inclusivity, which leads to embracing subtitles in everyday work.

The best part of creating subtitles is that you can do it in multiple languages, with just one video as basic material. This leads to expanding your reach, but it also shows the respect you have for other cultures and your commitment to embracing diversity. 

Accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing

According to the World Health Organization, over 5% of the world’s population – around 430 million people – have disabling hearing loss. This number can, by 2050, increase to nearly 2.5 billion people who have some degree of hearing loss, and at least 700 million will require hearing rehabilitation. 

Subtitles are a lifeline for these people. They offer the opportunity to fully engage with audiovisual content. By using subtitles, media distributors are making sure that deaf and hard-of-hearing people can access and enjoy their content. 

Do you think this is nice? It sure is. Besides being ethical, the companies are also broadening their audience. The good news is, with accessibility regulations becoming more stringent worldwide, investing in subtitles will not just be a moral obligation, but also a legal requirement.

Enhanced comprehension 

Subtitles increase comprehension by up to 30%, especially in situations involving complex dialogue, diverse accents, or technical jargon. One other study concerning children says that 34% of them became good readers with schooling alone. But when they started watching subtitled videos (songs, cartoons, etc) for only 30 min per week, the number of good readers doubled to 70%. 

The added layer of textual support is giving clarification with potential nuances. It also aids in the retention of information. It all leads to a more immersive and satisfying experience in video content.

No more misinterpretation! No more deciphering and playing video over and over again. No more battling with unfamiliar terminology. Subtitles are here to save the day.

Global reach

Global reach

Imagine you have a favorite K-pop band (I mean, who doesn’t) and love for their songs and performance spreads to the wish to learn the Korean language. And then, naturally, you discover K-dramas. Of course, you can’t learn a new language as fast as you’d like, but there are always subtitles. Can you imagine the world without them? 

For instance, over 1.5 billion people are actively learning a foreign language. Those who speak and understand English are roughly 1.46 billion people, which is still less than 20% of the world population. In other words, that means that 4 in 5 people around the world are not able to understand 50% of all websites.  

Are you imagining the unexplored possibilities right now? 

SEO benefits

When offering subtitles with the video content, companies are not only enlarging accessibility. This is also one of the good ways to bolster your search engine optimization (SEO) potential. 

Here are some benefits:

  • Text indexing
  • Keyword optimization
  • Expanded reach
  • Improved user experience
  • Multi-language support

Text indexing is letting search engines understand the content of your video more accurately. So when a potential client goes searching, your content will be among the relevant results. This happens because, when using subtitles, you’re giving your video materials keywords upon which the content could be searched. Ultimately, the process will lead to more organic traffic to your site. 

Quality standards

Subtitles are created differently, which mostly depends on what tool or platform you choose. But the overall aim is to have subtitles that people can read effortlessly while they comfortably enjoy images at the same time. 

Besides visuals, other requirements are:

  • Length: measured in characters per line (CPL)
  • Display speed: measured in characters per second (CPS)

Also, there are features to be careful about, like:

  • Context
  • The genre of the video
  • The layout of the text
  • Readability
  • Legibility

As far as the rules are included, they can depend from one client to another, and from one country to another, but the general guidelines are:

  • Subtitles are usually on screen for one second only
  • The CPL can be between 37 to 42 (or fewer for videos that circulate the media)
  • The reading speed goes between 15 to 20 CPS (also can be lower for children’s content)

You will find that the position of the subtitles is traditionally at the bottom of the screen. However, when creativity strikes, don’t be afraid to break tradition and try something new. Let’s see how the audience is reacting to, for instance, large orange subtitles in the middle of the screen. Sometimes the unconventional solutions are those that are remembered the most. 

Flexibility and adaptability

There is one feature people love about subtitles – they can adapt to nearly any platform or device. You can watch subtitled videos on smartphones, tablets, TVs, computers, etc. Subtitles will remain accessible and functional for all devices.

This versatility eliminates barriers, and viewers can enjoy content in their preferred format without worrying about clarity or quality. The good thing is that companies don’t have to think about whether their consumers will be watching video content over smartphones or tablets. 

Flexibility and adaptability are a prerogative to every business. Knowing you have tools and platforms for enhancing productivity that are changing to adapt to your demands is a nice consolation. 

Flexibility and adaptability

Subtitling and technology 

Can we really talk about translating and subtitling without mentioning new technologies? With new advances in machine learning and the world of artificial intelligence (AI), creating subtitles is every day faster and more accurate. 

With the help of new technologies, content creators can get help to streamline subtitling workflow. This is reducing turnaround times and production costs, leaving quality standards intact. 

On top of all, AI-driven speech recognition algorithms are constantly improving their accuracy, so now they can show precise synchronization between audio and text. 

Another good option when using AI to help you is that you get to choose nearly everything about your subtitles. You can get customized fonts, styles, colors, and positioning, thus creating something truly unique.   

Everyone, all around the world 

Subtitling is an indispensable component of global media distribution. It offers a plethora of benefits that go beyond just language translation. Using subtitles will help your business taste cultural inclusivity, accessibility will be greater, and deaf and hard-of-hearing people will be able to enjoy your content.

Not to mention improving comprehension and expanding global reach, all the while being flexible for various platforms and devices. 

So, yes, subtitles are good for business, especially if you aim to move forward by using video content. Creating videos can be just a fraction of your business strategy, but why not use it to its full potential? 

When you invest in subtitles, as a content creator or media distributor, you also need to meet certain regulations. But don’t do it just because the law says so – do it because it helps demonstrate your social responsibility and cultural understanding. 

Author Bio – Petra:

Fantasy writer in the world of digital marketing, aspiring to be a fantastic content writer. I am all about developing and delivering original content. I am a writer at heart, constantly learning new skills. Also a quick learner with improvisation in mind. It could be freely said that books and writing are my life.

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