The world’s subtitle use is speaking volumes

With more viewers watching TV with subtitles, closed captioning startups are open for business.

Roku subscribers using subtitles

Singdhi Sokpo

The hottest trend in watching content is… reading it.

Between 2017 and 2022, the number of Netflix subscribers using subtitles more than doubled. In 2022, 58% of Roku customers used subtitles, including two-thirds of millennial users.

Something about words on the TV screen has struck a chord with consumers, and it’s paving the way for a Golden Age of video accessibility.

  • For Roku’s customers, over one-third of subtitle users have diagnosed hearing impairments; another third uses subtitles situationally; and the rest… Well, they just do it.

Reading between the lines

In recent years, captioning and transcription software startups have seen tons of funding, like Verbit and Rev, which have raised $569m and $30.4m, respectively.

Another startup, Ava, which aims to help deaf and hard-of-hearing people live-transcribe anything from a Zoom call to, uh, “gossiping at lunch,” has raised $16.3m.

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