12 Comments

Summary:

Netflix currently has closed captions for 82 percent of all the videos it is streaming. By October 2014, this number will go up to 100 percent, according to a consent decree the company entered to settle a lawsuit with disability rights advocates.

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Corrected. Netflix has settled a court case brought against it by the National Association for the Deaf and other disability rights advocates, agreeing to a consent decree that will require it to have closed captions for all of its videos by October 2014. Before it reaches that point, Netflix will allow its users to specifically search for closed captioned content on its website. Currently, 82 percent of all videos on Netflix all hours of Netflix content streamed in the U.S. have closed captions, according to the consent decree (PDF, hat tip to Ars Technica).

Deaf and hard-of-hearing advocates had sued Netflix for allegedly violating the Americans with Disabilities act. Netflix admitted no wrongdoing as part of the consent decree, but agreed to pay the plaintiffs $755,000 in legal fees.

The company will now work to add captions to 90 percent of its content streamed hours within a year, with the final deadline for having all of its videos captioned being September 30 2014. Netflix recently partnered with the captioning platform Amara to experiment with  a crowdsourced approach to video subtitling.

Netflix isn’t the only company trying to add more captions to its videos. Amazon finally started adding captions to its Instant streaming service earlier this month, and YouTube recently began to ask its users to tell on publishers who don’t offer closed captions. Both moves are in response to FCC regulations that came into effect at the beginning of October, demanding captions for all online video content that previously aired on TV.

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  1. Robert L. Greenberg Thursday, October 11, 2012

    I would also love to have the special commentary tracks and bonus features on Netflix streaming, but this is a first–and more important–step.

  2. Actually it is 82% of all “streamed hours” of content has captions available. This is far different than the number of catalog titles (which may be less popular and streamed less often). Currently about 65% of their entire catalog currently has subtitles.

    1. Thanks for pointing this out, I corrected the story to reflect this important distinction.

  3. So, what is the flow on cost of this to me, the consumer (and, imagine for a moment, as a netflix shareholder). Why should what I pay for a service have to subsidize the cost of a feature I do not need? Netflix should be strucuring its business to deliver to models of streaming content – a full price cc version and a discounted no cc version, so that I do not have to support the nanny state.

    1. Wont cost you a single cent. All expenses Netflix puts into this is covered by Tax write offs and Tax Credits.

    2. There is not a significant enough cost associated with captioning to offer a differently structured plan, and given Netflix’s current issues keeping customers happy, I doubt that would go over well. Just because you’re a stickler and apparently don’t give one damn about those who need accessibility doesn’t mean it would be a wise business decision. It’s far better for a company to treat its users/consumers with equal respect across the board. Note how YouTube (read: Google) is doing the same, and I doubt Google is complaining about their bottom line either.

    3. Oooh. Can I get my money back for Vampire Diaries, too. I don’t watch that steaming pile of refuse and I don’t want licensing costs for subpar programming inflating the crippling $10 a month I pay for the service. Also, it’s disgusting that *I* have to pay money to support 5.1 audio functionality just because some audiophiles want a more immersive viewing experience.

    4. Could you be any more selfish? Hopefully you’ll never need captions, but imagine how frustrating it would be living in a world where you could not participate because of a disability, and having selfish jerks like you complain when a company tries to include you. The reason there’s a “nanny state” to begin with is that selfish people like yourself don’t just do what’s right. People like you make me sick to live in this “me me me” society.

  4. Aaron Schroeder Friday, October 12, 2012

    The captions they do have are often wrong or seriously laggy. Are they gonna fix that, too?

  5. Aaron Schroeder Friday, October 12, 2012

    The captions they do have are often wrong or really laggy, will they fix that too?

  6. Barbara Schroeder Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    Is Youtube offering closed captioning for their coverage of the presidential debates?

  7. We cancelled our account with Netflix years ago before the class action lawsuit was put together. I am deaf. My husband is hearing. We have an interesting perspective and I blogged about it at http://www.thewiseguys.com/2012/10/21/netflix-allegedly-making-progress-on-closed-captions-for-streaming-content/ just this morning.

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