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Auto-captioning – A comparison

Auto captioning – how do different video platforms compare? As a nation – no wait – a world, we are obsessed with videos. That’s right. An average adult spends 42 minutes watching videos a day. It’s no wonder that hundreds of hours of new content is being uploaded every minute. What’s more we’re watching them everywhere: at home, on the train, in the cafe and even at the gym. This is why an essential part of the viewing experience is captions. But how do different platforms compare in what they offer? In this article, we’ll look at the five main market leaders to see what they’re doing in this ever developing space.


With over 2 billion monthly users, Youtube is the third most visited website in the world – and a huge number watch its videos with subtitles turned on. Youtube uses ASR to generate automatic captions. At present they support 14 languages for long form videos and Shorts. Captions can also be used on live streams, although English is the only language currently supported. Youtube subtitles are great for their convenience and can be activated in the “video details” section within the Youtube studio. However they are prone to some mistakes. In Google’s own words: “However, automatic captions might misrepresent the spoken content due to mispronunciations, accents, dialects or background noise. You should always review automatic captions and edit any parts that haven’t been transcribed properly.” It even recommends creators make use of “professional captions” rather than using the inbuilt features.


French giant Dailymotion is only a month younger than Youtube, but on subtitles it’s somewhat lagging behind. Even now it still has no feature for adding automatic captions. But there is support for adding your own as an SRT file. This option is buried under the “Advanced” button on the video interface. After this just select “Add subtitles”, select the language, click on “Upload” to find the desired file and then save the settings. 


Despite being the older sibling of the “Big Three”, Vimeo has arguably leapt the furthest in video accessibility. Its automated caption function is literally automatic. For all paid accounts, subtitles automatically appear on all videos, and can be turned on and off by the viewer. They even come in a range of fonts and colours so that they’re easily read no matter the type of video they foot. You can still add your own subtitles however, by uploading your file in the Video Manager. 


Last but not least is the Rishi Sunak of video platforms, the short-form video host Tik Tok. It’s had something of a meteoric rise since going international in 2018. It is in fact the counterpart of Chinese platform Douyin, which remains digitally separate, with both sets of users not having access to the others’ content. TikTok sped past Google and Facebook in 2021 as the world’s most popular website according to Cloudflare. It has also made its strides in accessibility too. In April 2021, TikTok launched auto captions, which can be selected by creators on the video editing page. All captions are “closed” and so can be turned off by users who do not want or require them. 

To sum up

Video accessibility in the way of automatic captioning is clearly at different stages depending on which website you’re on, from totally “do nothing” captioning on Vimeo to absolutely nothing on Dailymotion.  But of course automated subtitles are not the be all and end all. For more complex, technical videos or programmes shot in noisy and crowded places, manual transcription still has a place.As we mentioned before, it’s even a fact that the market leader doesn’t deny. So for that bit extra in captions, head on over to a reliable professional service like JUST, and rest with ease that the text really will match the words spoken.


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