How to Pick the Right Media Subtitling Company

American Language Services has been helping media companies get their message across for nearly 4 decades. In that time, we’ve come to understand the unique intricacies of subtitling and closed captioning. Whether you’re looking to get a movie adapted to a foreign market, adapting foreign language content for an English-speaking audience, or hoping to make it easier for the hard of hearing to comprehend, we have the skills to get the job done.

Read on to learn more about subtitling as a concept, why it’s important, and what to look out for when you’re picking a subtitling company.

What is Media Subtitling and Why Is It Needed?

Subtitles are text superimposed over a video and synchronized to the onscreen content. They typically display things like dialog and sound effects. Switching them on is as easy as pushing a button. The act of creating this text is referred to as subtitling. But why do we need subtitles in the first place? And why is the demand for them skyrocketing?

Reason one is accessibility. Deaf and hard-of-hearing people have every right to enjoy media content. And, in most cases, subtitles are the best way to get that done. Though the terms “caption” and “subtitle” are used interchangeably in most of the world, the U.S.A. uses the former to refer to Closed Captions (CC). Unlike typical subtitles, which only convey speech, CC attempts to represent everything on screen in a textual format. Surprisingly, it took more than 40 years after the invention of the television to develop a system for the hearing impaired. Experts estimate that roughly 5 percent of the world’s population needed those captions a lot sooner.

Accessibility is just one thing driving the demand for subtitles, however. Another is the populace’s growing desire to enjoy foreign language shows, movies, and documentaries. A recent study found that almost half of people prefer to watch the original version of a film with subtitles over one in their native tongue. In many cases, intralingual captioning goes beyond the spoken word to include street signs and logos.

The last factor driving the increased demand for subtitles is simply convenience. Whether it’s music lyrics or your favorite sitcom, subtitles can make things easier to understand. It also means that you can mute the TV and still get the gist of what’s happening on the screen. This added ease makes engagement more likely. A 2018 study found that 80% more people finished a video when subtitles were included.

The Benefits of Good Subtitling

A professional captioning company is truly worth its weight in gold. Localizing text is more than translating words. Understanding meanings and subtle language nuances are the most important factors. Choosing the correct provider can net you various benefits including:

  • Less Wasted Time: Sure, you might save money going with a cheap freelancer, but you’ll probably end up paying for it in the long run. A lack of accuracy leads to more rounds of revisions and less time to focus on what matters. Picking the proper supplier makes everything more efficient.
  • Adherence to Government Guidelines: Many countries require content to be accessible to people regardless of disability. Subpar captioning can run afoul of these regulations and land your company in hot water.
  • Better Comprehension: Typos and nonsensical phrases make it hard for your audience to connect with your content. Hiring a company with an excellent accuracy rate makes those things less likely to sneak their way in. This increases the likelihood that your song or video will garner the intended reaction. The more vital the content, the more important comprehension becomes.
  • Improved Public Relations: We’ve all seen the memes. The “English” signs and hilarious subtitles. Being the butt of someone’s joke does not do anything good for your brand. Clear, well-written captions, on the other hand, will earn approving nods from viewers.

5 Tips for Selecting a Good Closed Captioning Company

On the outside, media subtitling providers all look kind of the same. You give them an audio or visual file and spit that same file back at you with subtitles attached. But there’s a lot of things going on that you might not be aware of. To help you separate the wheat from the chaff, keep an eye out for a vendor with the following characteristics:

  • Format Flexibility: There are more than two dozen video formats out there. You’ll want to choose a vendor who can handle all of them. While most of your files will be in one or two of these, it’s best to prepare for the unexpected. You never know when you’ll have to do a deep dive into the archive.
  • Service Versatility: A lot of media subtitling companies offer services that go beyond closed captioning. After all, why struggle with multiple vendors when you don’t have to? During your first call, ask your potential partner to outline their services for you do. Some have a limited-service offerings and others (like us) are full service an offer subtitling, dubbing, translation and many other services. The fewer vendors you have to juggle, the more efficient your captioning will be.
  • A Hybrid Approach: Though often the butt of jokes, automated subtitling has its place. The best vendors combine machines with men to optimize speed and accuracy. When evaluating vendors, ask what kind of machine tools they use and how they incorporate them into their processes. The best companies use machine learning tools to lay a baseline and use humans to edit out any errors.
  • An Accuracy Guarantee: No one wants to run afoul of FCC guidelines. And, having subtitles with less than a 90 to 95 percent accuracy rate can put you in danger of doing just that. Aim for a company with a money-back policy and inaccuracy rate of between one and three percent.
  • Simple File Transfer: Video content is large and cumbersome and often protected by copyright laws. Transmitting it via email should not be your first option. It’s important to Inquire about the company’s file transfer protocols. A company that can’t explain how they deal with large files is one best avoided. The best companies offer API, dropbox, or secure server upload solutions.

About American Language Services

Since 1985, our company has worked diligently to become a valued partner in closed captioning and media subtitling for companies around the world. Now, we are one of the largest, most successful language service providers, not just in the U.S., but worldwide. Our language experts provide a full range of language services in over 150 languages. Because of the rapid pace of the media industry, we’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

AML-Global possesses some of the most versatile subtitling professionals in the world. These highly skilled language professionals are recruited, screened, and tested to ensure high-quality work. Our stringent hiring requirements ensure that you’ll get the media expertise you need for your project.

By paying meticulous attention to detail, AML-Global has earned an outstanding reputation for providing cost-effective, high-quality captioning and subtitling to video producers of all sizes.

Contact us by email at or call 1-800-951-5020 for a no-obligation estimate on your project.


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