Saturday, January 25, 2014

Free Captioning - Any Takers?

How hard is it to get producers of Web television programs to closed caption? Unless it is a well-known producer (Amazon.com, Hulu), hard! Caption Action 2 has reached out to around 1,000 web TV producers so far and of those, only a couple of hundred were willing to caption. This is why the CaptionedWebTV.blogspot.com blogsite has fewer than 300 entries on it. Will offering free captioning services be the breakthrough needed?

Web TV producers that have been contacted in the past 3 years have usually cited time and money as reasons for not captioning. But, the cost to closed caption a web TV program is minimal. The going rate to closed caption can be as little as $2 a minute for an accurate transcript to upload to YouTube to create quality captions. Therefore, it is possible to closed caption an entire season of a web TV program (10 five-minute episodes) for as little as $100. That's pocket change compared to the average cost of producing a web TV program.

But the primary problem encountered is that by and large, web TV producers simply do not want to pay for captioning services. They frequently view captioning as a nice little extra to have. Often, the response on Twitter is "good idea!" Good idea? They view captioning as a "good idea" instead of as a basic necessity?

Most of the web TV producers that are captioning, are not paying for it. They are doing it themselves, with varying degrees of proficiency. If they were more willing to pay for captioning services just like they are willing to pay for other basic necessities as part of production costs, we would have a lot more captioned web TV out there.

Captioning service providers for their part, are equally frustrated. How to overcome this attitude among web TV producers? Two captioning service providers that can not be named here, have decided to offer a free sample of captioning services. The two providers gave Caption Action 2 a special code/secret instructions to give to web TV producers to get 5 or 10 minutes of free captioning services.

The hope is that once web TV producers try it for free, they will decide to buy captioning services. It has been less than 24 hours since the word was put out on Twitter. Despite some re-tweets (RT in Twitter language) not a single producer has contacted Caption Action 2 (@deafnessguide) to take up the offer. If you know of a web TV program that you wish was captioned, tell them to contact Caption Action 2 to get the special code and instructions sent by private email.

If web TV producers won't accept even an offer of FREE captioning services, then Houston, we've got a problem!


Saturday, August 17, 2013

CW Seed Launches Without Captioning!

This past week, a new online-only network was launched by the CW, a traditional broadcast network. The new online-only network is called CW Seed. It launched on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at cwseed.com with no closed captioning!






The CW Seed launch has received much publicity:

NY Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/online-only-traditional-tv-doesn-matter-anymore-husbands-producer-article-1.1427962
LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-cw-launches-digital-cw-seed-20130815,0,901999.story
Tubefilter: http://www.tubefilter.com/2013/08/16/cw-seed-studio-husbands/
Hollywood Reporter: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/cws-pet-squad-files-milo-606556

But how much publicity they got is not why this is important! According to that NY Daily News article linked above:

"If everyone watched on the Internet, that model would be dismantled.
That’s one reason broadcast networks are looking to get into the online distribution game themselves."


The new CW Seed is airing the third season of a popular web tv show, Husbands. This show was captioned on YouTube but now the third season is exclusive to CW Seed. With no captions. This is not the only show on CW Seed, but is an example of why it is so important now to speak up and demand captions!

The video player being used at CW Seed does not appear to support closed captioning. There is no visible CC button or option to turn on subtitles. When you right-click, this "about" information pops up:



So it appears they are using a customized Adobe Flash Player provided by a company called Digitalsmiths. At http://www.vidcompare.com/video-provider-detail.php?id=76 it does not say that their video player supports closed captioning, but it does say that their video player has subtitles capability.

This could be the first of a wave of new online only networks launched by parent traditional TV broadcasters. It is IMPORTANT to speak out NOW to prevent them from launching without including closed captioning in their planning.  We MUST make an example of the CW Seed network and force them to add closed captioning. Tweet @cwseed OR post/message facebook.com/cwseed !!!

This is proof of why we need that 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act UPDATED to require professional online tv efforts to have closed captioning!








Sunday, March 31, 2013

Yahoo Starts Captioning! But...

Earlier today, a discovery was made: After at least five years, Yahoo has finally started to closed caption. There was no announcement from Yahoo; apparently they just started quietly. The word was put out on Twitter. People checked things out and found that Yahoo is probably using a form of automatic captioning because they noticed a lack of semantic structure and difficulty in reading the captions. One viewer pointed out that he could not see the full captioning unless viewing in full screen mode. The captions also are plain white with no background and can not be customized by viewers. So things are not perfect but it is a start.

All of Yahoo's Originals at http://screen.yahoo.com/yahoo-originals/ were checked for captioning. The total captioned is currently 16 shows out of 59. It looks like Yahoo is starting with its most popular shows and expanding.We will be adding these 16 shows to the Captioned Web TV blog accompanied by a warning note about the automatic captioning.