Subtitles and Closed Captions: What are the Benefits?

subtitle closed captions

Videos are created for various purposes, and they have become possibly the most used form of information. YouTube, the most famous video sharing platform available in over 80 languages, has more than 2.3 billion users worldwide. That number only includes people who have Google accounts and log into the site using those accounts. According to, YouTube users watch over 1 billion hours of video on the website. Its popularity creates a huge opportunity for content creators to reach a wider audience. There are some other techniques that help the creators to engage with even more people. Subtitles and closed captions, utilized by almost all industries to some extent, are among the most important factors in making video content accessible to people from different backgrounds and cultures.

Although subtitles and closed captions are used interchangeably, there is a difference between them. The idea behind them is the same; they both provide text for videos. Subtitles include the dialogue spoken in the video. Closed captions, on the other hand, don’t only have the dialogue but also shows the background noises such as wind blowing, door opening, etc. They are mainly designed for people with hearing impairment, whereas subtitles are for viewers who have difficulty understanding the dialogue but can hear the background noises without a problem.


What are the benefits subtitles and closed captions bring to content?


There is no doubt that subtitles and closed captions help the content reach a wider audience. Let’s have a look at some of the advantages they provide.


Easier to follow


Subtitles make the video easier to follow. You may not understand some parts of the dialogue due to background noise or low sound quality. As a result, you may miss the point of the dialogue altogether. With subtitles and closed captions, this issue is greatly eliminated. Watching a video in a public place or transport is especially challenging due to the high volume of sound made by people and vehicles; therefore, subtitles and closed captions are a great way of avoiding this issue.

It is true that some people can’t concentrate on both audio and subtitles at the same time, but after some time, it is easier to get used to the experience.


Learning new languages and improving language skills


One of the biggest benefits subtitles offer is that people learning new languages can use them for positive results. Thanks to the internet and the opportunities it creates, now it is possible to find subtitles for most movies on different websites. Some movies are shown in their original language with translated subtitles. Watching movies with subtitles is one of the most effective ways of learning a new language. Of course, if the subtitles are created by professionals who know the language very well, they are a very good source for learning language since they are more accurate in grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.

Listening tasks are usually the most challenging part for new language learners. Professional teachers use videos with subtitles to teach and by people themselves to get used to the listening practice.

Additionally, subtitles are a great way to improve your existing language skills since videos usually include new words, pronunciations, spellings, etc. 


Understanding different accents


Even native speakers of a particular language sometimes struggle with understanding a dialogue if the video is in a different accent than the one viewer used to hear. For instance, some native English speakers may find it difficult to follow certain British accents. There are some instances in which even people from the same country don’t understand the accent of people from the neighbouring city. Some people speak faster than others, and subtitles make it easier to follow along.


Very helpful for technical videos


Subtitles and closed captions are especially useful if the video contains technical language that is not easy to understand for people who are not experienced in the field video based on. Videos based on physics, medicine, chemistry, etc., usually contain a lot of words now known to the viewer. Subtitles are more important to students in those fields since they find it difficult to follow so many different specific terms they have to learn.


Easier to learn the spelling of the names of people, jargon, brand names


Since different languages have different letters and pronunciations, sometimes it isn’t easy to know how to spell a certain foreign name. Even if you can pronounce it, you may not understand how to write it. Subtitles made by professional native speakers of a language include the correct spelling of names that otherwise won’t be easy to know. Moreover, there are jargons that are only used in certain countries and communities. Without subtitles, one may find it difficult to understand. Some brand names are spelt differently than they are pronounced; therefore, subtitles and closed captions come in handy.


They make videos accessible to everyone


As mentioned above, the biggest difference between subtitles and closed captions is that closed captions describe all the actions in the video, including background sounds and dialogues. That is very useful for people with hearing impairments. With its help, people with hearing disabilities get a chance to be a part of a community and get the same experience from the video as others.

According to World Health Organization, more than 430 million people worldwide (5% of the world population) have some kind of hearing disability. With subtitles and closed captions, millions of people get a chance to follow what’s going on in the video.


Offer better experience than just translating


Technologies offer viewers many options to watch a video. Some people prefer to watch it with translated audio, some with original audio and translated subtitles, and some people go for original audio and original subtitles. The latter case offers a much better experience since subtitles include all the original spellings, etc.


Cheaper to create than dubbing


Having audio translated and dubbed requires much more funds than just translating it and creating subtitles from it. With subtitles being available in so many languages and easy to create, even the smallest communities get a chance to share their culture, language, etc., with other people.


They help to catch the attention of younger people


According to BBC, the Stagetext study found out that the number of younger people who prefer watching TV shows with subtitles is four times more than the older viewers. Moreover, four out of five people said they use subtitles partially or for the full video.

Since younger people are the main users of newer technologies, video sharing websites and streaming services, it is logical to use subtitles to draw their attention.


Great opportunity if you prefer watching a video muted


More and more people prefer watching videos muted because they are in a crowded place or they don’t want others to hear what is being said in the video. Subtitles come in handy in this situation since you can follow the events in the video with subtitles even though it doesn’t offer the same experience as watching the video with sound. Since it is the next best option, many people just watch videos muted and with subtitles. According to one report, 85% of Facebook video is watched muted.


Good for video SEO


Having subtitles and closed captions created for videos can help to increase search engine rankings. The vast majority of marketing teams use videos to engage with their customers, viewers, so it’s only logical to use subtitles and closed captions to bring in more viewers. If you have subtitles for the video, other than adding them to the video, it is also a good idea to post them underneath the video. Since SEO is based on keywords and ideas, subtitles that contain keywords and ideas tell the viewer what the video is about, and that video ranks higher in search engine results.