Recently, streaming service of the moment, Netflix have announced that they now caption/subtitle 80% of the hours streamed in the US, doubling their stats from June 2011, when they were sued by National Association of the Deaf. According to their blog post they are pushing for content providers to offer already captioned films/TV whilst working on providing their own captioning service to fill in the gaps. Although they have picked up the pace in a relatively short amount time, which to me shows good intent, they do state that the final 20% of media will take longer to caption as it is rarely watched content. It seems Netflix have prioritised the demand of films to be captioned over ease (or so they claim, depending on how you rate on the cynicism scale) which earns brownie points in my book.
Readjusting my glasses, grabbing my calculator and putting my boffin hat on. According to my calculations Netflix currently offers 546 subtitled media, this includes TV programmes rather than individual episodes so that original number can be boosted a bit. Comparatively when searching on the LOVEFiLM website for “subtitles” only 71 films/TV were found this included 69 DVDs, 1 Blu-ray and 1 LOVEFiLM instant. As LOVEFiLM claim you can have access to 5500 films and TV series’ instantly, their statistic shows that 0.018% of media is subtitled. Of course this is a silly statistic and a bit unfair as Netflix stats are only based on viewed hours not available media. However, when it comes to closed captioned content, Netflix is the clear winner for me, especially as they have a link to view subtitled films and programmes (here) which LOVEFiLM are clearly missing.
Captions aside, if you’d like to compare other areas of both services then check out the Which? review.
If you’d like to contact Netflix, I’ve found the best way is to tweet your questions to @Netflixhelps where normally you get a speedy response. My luck with them was good, however it has been known they haven’t replied to everyone, especially those with more probing questions. If you take your inspiration from the perspectives of Ian Noon (worth a read, via Limping Chicken) yes by all means campaign for better service but try to be nice to those tweeting on behalf of the company, you’ll probably get a better response and not send them home from work in tears.
In addition, there are a few other services out there. Check out The Guardian’s article. Although, through these other services, subtitle access appears to be non-existant or something you’ll spend hours trawling through to find a suitable, accessible film at which point you wont have time to watch the film, so maybe it’s best to read a book. One such example is Tesco owned Blinkbox.com, a pay as you watch streaming service where I was unable to find any subtitled content.
So to all, good luck in the quest to chill out with your popcorn and subtitled films this weekend. Don’t forget to let me know how you get on.