Let’s first explain the difference between subtitles and captions:
Subtitles are a method of translating spoken words into readable text and displaying it onscreen; they are commonly used to translate a video into another language.
Captions are another method of converting spoken words to onscreen text, but captions also include text-based descriptions of background sounds and other audio cues important to the story. There are two types of captions: open and closed. Open captions (or burn-in) are fixed onscreen; closed captions are user enabled.
Traditionally, captions have been provided as a service to deaf and hearing impaired audiences. However, times have changed, and we have a lot more information about our collective viewing habits.
Studies have shown that most viewers who enable closed captions do so for reasons other than hearing loss. In fact, in 2020 85% of the video content on Facebook was watched without sound!
We’ve come to understand that viewers for whom English is a second language also benefit from captions, as well as those with learning disabilities or difficulty maintaining focus. Captions can help with concentration, leading to greater comprehension.
Captioned videos have statistically higher view counts than videos without captions, and viewers are many times more likely to watch a video to completion when captions are available.