Research: 72% think all TV ads should be subtitled

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The majority of UK adults (72 per cent) think companies and organisations should subtitle all their adverts, according to consumer research commissioned by new subtitling company SubText Digital.

The research looked at how people of all age groups use subtitles and highlighted a variety of reasons why people choose subtitling. Unsurprisingly, accessibility due to deafness or hearing loss is a key reason; but others use subtitles to help understand accents, decipher mumbling or to prevent disturbing sleeping household members or neighbours.

Interestingly, younger people are much more likely to use subtitles regularly, with 62 per cent of 18-24 year olds using subtitles at least two times per week, compared to only 23 per cent in the 55+ category. Nearly half of 18-24 year olds use subtitling all the time; as opposed to only one in ten 55+ year olds.

The trend towards increased usage in younger age groups is coupled with views about how brands make themselves more accessible and attractive by subtitling their content. The research found that 64 per cent of all age groups view a brand that uses subtitles as more socially responsible then those that don’t. Over half of 18-24 year olds said they would be more likely to buy from, or engage with a brand that subtitles ads. The same amount said they would be more likely to donate to a charity that makes subtitling available on their ads.

It is estimated that only around 40 per cent of adverts currently have subtitles, meaning that around 60 per cent could be missing engagement with key broadcast audiences.

Chris Parsons, Chief Executive of SubText Digital, said: “Subtitling adverts is an easy way for brands to take steps to becoming more accessible to large groups of consumers. SubText Digital is committed to democratising the subtitling market and thereby opening up subtitling options to more brands and especially charities, so they better communicate with their audience. Subtitling shouldn’t need to be an expensive exercise, as it has sometimes been historically, and we’re keen to make sure that price isn’t a barrier for smaller companies and organisations.”

Although the 2003 Communications Act and the Digital Economy Act 2017 requires broadcasters to subtitle both linear and on-demand TV programmes, there is currently no legislation covering accessibility in advertising. It is the responsibility of brands to ensure that their adverts have subtitles.


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