Subtitles on The Internet: Open Letter to Studios and TV Networks

To ABC, NBC, CBS, Lionsgate, Sony, and anyone else who’s not listening.

Why not caption your Internet Videos?

Look at the markets not served by not captioning your video content:
-deaf and hard of hearing?
-people at work who can’t turn the sound up?
-people without the ability to have sound on their computers
-people who just don’t clearly understand what’s being said

These are people who buy your DVD’s, who watch your adverstising, buy your advertiser’s

How hard is it to make your video sites captioned?
You have all the data already – scripts, teleprompters, cc from tv – It’s already there. CC in Flash is not hard, and there are several people producing video players with
CC capability built in.

This simple blog, where I place captioned videos of your content, has received over
50,000 views in the last 4 months. Don’t you want those viewers to go to your sites?

Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying myself. Everybody’s gotta have a hobby – mine
is captioning videos, and watching the page views climb and climb, and hearing the
people say how much they appreciate that I volunteer to make the content accessible.

But it’s your content! I am helping to promote your stuff, and doing the work
that you should have done, and could have done much easier than I.

Marlee Matlin on Ellen: the video that I captioned has received 5,325 views in the
last two days – that’s nine, just while I have been typing this.

Marlee Matlin on ET: This video has received 6,143 views in the last 18 days.

Shoot, the 30sec Advertisement for “Dancing with the Stars” has received 1,668 views.

Insider – another 1400, and with Lisa on the red carpet, 1067. Those are 15000 views
that you guys should have had.

I have about 75 movie trailers that I have captioned.
These accumulate to 50,000 or more views that I have had and about 100 hours of my time, that should have never happened, had you guys been doing your job.
I’m a slow typist, and I have to listen to the videos 5 times to get the text – you have it
already typed out!

Come on guys – it’s time to step up! You studio editors could slip the text to the webguys.
You studio webguys could be suggesting this.

You studio execs should be demanding this.

Where are you?


(PS – Studios,  Thanks for letting me have the views – I am making great new friends! )

19 thoughts on “Subtitles on The Internet: Open Letter to Studios and TV Networks

  1. AMEN!!!! Thank you Bill for doing the job!
    Thank you Bill for doing SOMEONE else’s job!
    Keep up the good work! MUch appreciated!


  2. Wow…I don’t realize that you have volunteered to do all the jobs for us! Thank you! Indeed, Your volunteered is much appreciated. Yeah, it should have been done by those studio people. Again, thank you!


  3. We are forever grateful to all what you do. You are kindest of souls. Maybe we should comment with our thanks for every captioned video of yours that we’ve viewed.. seriously, thanks man!


  4. i am appreciative for what you have done for the Deaf where we are able to enjoy the access of the clips and that you have been volunteering. But it is time for the mega corps to step in to take this responsibility by providing captions or better yet pay you for your work! The main problem is that there is no federal requirements to provide CC online.

    Tayler has a point that we need to be more proactive in showing the demands of adding cc. Let’s redirect us to get our letters pouring to the giants as it is time for them to hear from us. It will be helpful to provide email address for each network and a sample letter that we can simply pour them with our messages. It won’t cost anything to try though. Thanks for taking the initiative.


  5. We need to organize a letter writing campaign to send off letters to all network, cable, satellite and ISP providers…as well as every congressman….

    Where can we get started? The issue is disorganization….hmmm…


  6. One of the things I do, is whenever I come across a site that doesn’t have captioned videos, like the Access Hollywood site, is ask why they don’t, give them some of the reasons they should (the people who would use them), and tell them they are missing out on money because they don’t.

    And I commend them when they do. That new Red Lasso site (sample), that searches TV programs, – their tv style “CC”- stinks because it’s so far behind, but at least they’ve included it, even in their beta test.

    We’ve started right here – add your ideas, post links to your own blogs about CC on the internet.

    Online Resources:

    Online Captioning Petition
    is an Initiative of Utah State University, and the promote captioning of Rich Media for Web Accessibility. They recently had a conference at CSUN, and my understanding was that Google and AOL were represented their. (Both companies have CC capability in their web players).

    Article: Online Captioning: Right Thing to Do

    Joe Clark – Promoting Web Accessilibility, and Standards for Captioning

    MoPix, PBS online

    NAD position on Online Captioning

    Wall Street Journal

    [edit: added 2008-4-1]
    General News and Information on Web Captioning


  7. Request Captions on the ABC Online Player:

    Request Indexing of CC videos on
    Q : Can you add more closed-captioning?
    We currently receive closed-captioning data for some of our shows. You’ll know closed captioning is available if you see the cc button to the left of the volume control in the video player window. Click the button and select the language to turn closed captioning on. We’re working to add it for more of our catalog all the time. The closed-captioning data that’s used for broadcast TV isn’t easily translated for online use, so we’re investigating alternative solutions to boost our closed-captioning coverage.


    • I am deaf US ex-pat, living in Panama and wondering where are my rights when I am being denied of TV videos from the United States. ABC, NBC, and CBS have been cut OFF from the Latin American countries and those are the ones that have English captioning. Now American Network replaced those networks and they do NOT have captioning. I now have to watch TV programming captioned in SPANISH and I am totally isolated!!! Even Hulu is not allowed to broadcast to computers owned by AMERICAN users. Where are our rights, especially the DEAF community?????


  8. Wow!! Thanks!!
    I have sent in requests to news sites, cable sites, video sites and hear nothing in return.
    I contacted one of our local news sites that show news pieces. These were on tv – captioned – but are on the net without story lines or captioning. Very difficult for many to understand what is said.
    Thanks for being an advocate for the many of us with a hearing issue. I also know many who fall into the “can’t use speakers at work” catagory.
    Great blog!!

    Kelly (profound hearing loss)


  9. I am post-lingually deafened (for the last 25 years) – I am now 49. YES!!! I am so glad you are speaking out about this important cause. I use captioning when I watch t.v. or DVDs, even though with my hearing aids, I can hear most of what is said. I prefer to check what I missing that way. Many many people who are “hearing” are actually not able to follow what is said on videos so CC is a fabulous tool for everyone. The revolution has started, thanks to the Deaf community. We are all grateful to you!


Comments are closed.