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Closed Captioning: An Opportunity for Content Producers?

By August 9, 2012September 4th, 2021No Comments

Having the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) Organization and the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) knocking on your door with requests that you accommodate the disabled can be an unpleasant and expensive experience.

NetFlix & Closed Captioning

Let’s consider an example: Netflix felt it was dealt a blow when a Federal Judge mandated that their online streaming content come with Closed Caption transcriptions. For some time Netflix has been avoiding the difficult reality of having to expense post-production transcription and closed captioning for its content; arguing  that the ADA requests are limited to physical structures and not virtual ones.

The Judge had a different view, pointing out that fairness is not be limited to the physical space, and instead includes in the virtual – where commercial traffic is increasing.

By recognizing that websites are covered by the ADA, the court has ensured that the ADA stays relevant as much of our society moves from Main Street to the Internet,” said Arlene Myerson of the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund in Berkeley, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

Netflix was left scrambling, but it should see this as an opportunity.

Why Closed Captioning is an Opportunity?

The FCC has for some time required that video content come with closed captioning for the deaf or hard of hearing. This was specific to television programs, while ignoring online video.  However, with a staggering amount of videos uploaded online (approximately 72 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute), the FCC and ADA realized it cannot ignore the online space.

The ability of the ADA to enforce non-discrimination in the virtual space has took a giant leap forward in 2010, when President Barrack Obama signed Bill S.3304 into

law, allowing the ADA to require closed captioning.

While some networks are struggling to find affordable solutions which they can implement by the 2014 deadline, others are preempting legal and social scrutiny by offering closed captioning now.

But another reason for their activity stands out: leading networks are finding that transcription allows them to analyze, search and share their audio more effectively. Some are building content libraries and partnering to monetize these past-productions. Others are using the data for market research, to tailor their shows and share content via social media (an increasingly effective advertizing platform).

As Mike Mothner, CEO of Wpromote notes, “associating transcripts with your video is a key step in unlocking the content otherwise stuck inside of your great video content.”

There are significant top-line advantages to making video content more accessible. Now the production market just has to find a service provider which can deliver at the right price.

Written By Chirag Ahuja