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Spelling It Out With Help From Closed Captioning Services

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Let them spell it out for you.  

“Them” being Closed Captioning services providers, who specialize in making the voices and sounds in multimedia readable on the screen. Businesses are creating more video content than ever before; making it viewer-friendly should be a top priority. For what’s often a reasonable fee, you can add closed captioning so both information and entertainment can be enjoyed by as many people as possible. It’s a small effort that goes a long way.  

The concept of closed captioning was introduced in 1971, at the First National Conference on Television for the Hearing Impaired. It picked up steam over the next several years, culminating in the National Captioning Institute being founded in 1979, and regularly scheduled captions in 1980. For young and old alike with hearing difficulties, this was a revelation — the ability to watch the popular shows everyone else watched, with dialogue transcribed for them as it happened.

1982 brought about live captioning, which expanded these innovations into sporting events, news programs and other live broadcasts. Technologies and regulations evolved in the next three decades — including advancements in speech recognition and caption automation — leading to recent major legislation regarding quality standards and expected availability of closed captioning.

Nowadays, any show on cable, movie for purchase and big-name streaming service has closed captioning options. It’s a right for those hard of hearing, but also finds use among others in situations where volume is limited or content is hard to follow. Like so many inventions, closed captioning rapidly shifted from just an idea to something many of us can’t live without — and for very good reason.

Multimedia content may already be a fixture in your business, if not something you’ve considered branching out into sooner or later. Whether it’s promotional videos, video tutorials, vlogs or full-on films, there’s content there worth captioning. Even dialogue and action sounds in games or certain applications can benefit from a captioning option. And to help you tackle the challenge, we’re introducing a category on G2 Crowd for Closed Captioning Services, with listings and reviews of companies who specialize in “CC.”

Image credit: PBS

This category of services falls under the umbrella of Translation Services, alongside services like interpretation and standard document translation. The closest relatives of CC are transcription — typed-out text readings of audio, meetings, etc. — and multimedia localization, which involves things like subtitles and overdubs to make movies accessible to a foreign audience. Some of the providers featured on our site do a variety of these language-based services, while some focus on just one or two.

When browsing the profiles and websites of CC providers, you will come upon various terms to describe what facet of this service they offer. It’s helpful to know the basic terminology and the different types of closed captioning you may come across, so you have an idea of what you’re actually looking for and what tools are at your disposal.

Closed captioning terms include:
  • Offline captioning: Also called “pre-recorded captioning.” This is perhaps the most common form of captioning service, where filmed pieces or other evergreen media content (e.g., games) are transcribed into captions which are programmed to be turned on and off by the viewer. Videos on YouTube or Netflix are modern use cases for pre-recorded captioning.
  • Live captioning: Also called “online captioning,” live captioning is used for content with a live element that needs immediate captioning, such as talk shows and sports. Captioning appears on the screen within a few seconds of the dialogue or sounds that occur in the programming. “Webstream captioning” is a form of live captioning designed for streaming video on the web, and is used increasingly as significant programming like political debates or award shows are live streamed.
  • Open captioning: In short, closed captioning that is built into a section or entirety of a program, without the option to turn it off. This may be used in certain tutorials as an added guide, or sections of shows or movies where a different language is being spoken for a certain period of time.
  • Roll-up captions: The style of CC in which words scroll into view with a consistent flow.
  • Pop-on captions: The style of CC in which blocks of text appear on the screen one after the other.
  • Subtitling: Captions of translated dialogue, from the intended language in the media to the preferred language of the viewer. You will find overlap of subtitling services between multimedia localization providers and closed captioning providers.

Closed captioning firms may offer one or all of these options, along with consulting services to better understand your project and develop the optimal captioning strategy. Services themselves may vary in pricing; depending on the provider and the contract, captioning may be done by the minute, the hour, the word or the project as a whole.

There are currently 18 products in this new category, only one of which has reviews as of Jan. 26, 2018.

Here are a few of the products in this new space.

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CaptionLabs, based in Columbus, Ohio, specializes in closed captioning with a lightning-fast turnaround — within the day, in some cases. The company’s LinkedIn profile describes its central as goal as such: “To help make all forms of media accessible to all humanity.” This is a no-frills provider with broadcast captions, subtitling services available in 32 languages and web captioning available for the most popular formats, from Flash to Netflix to Roku.

The company doesn’t mess around its standard of quality and accuracy, offering a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee that includes a full refund and paying a competitor to complete the project if need be. You can get a quote for your captioning needs within an hour by filling out the form on its website or calling a rep at 614-310-1300.


$8/minute for roll-up captions (min. $180), $12/minute for pop-up captions (min. $250), $10/minute for subtitles (min. $225).

Defining features

Broadcast captions in all formats, subtitles in 32 languages, captioning for meetings and live events

Key benefits

Fast turnaround, satisfaction guarantee, digital delivery

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3Play Media

“Borne out of MIT” just over a decade ago, Boston-based 3Play Media provides exhaustive closed captioning solutions and boasts a client portfolio of more than 2,000 companies. Clients have the added advantage of an online caption text editor and other administrative tools that make file uploads and support queries fast and convenient. In addition to closed captioning, 3Play offers transcription and translation services, along with a handful of other nifty tools described on its website.

“3Play Media provides quality captions and transcripts for our educational video content. I know that the spelling will be accurate, the timing will be in sync, and non-dialogue cues will be present in our transcripts and closed caption files. The staff is extremely competent and always willing to answer questions and find solutions. 3Play Media is also innovative and current, always keeping up with the latest technology and accessibility tools.” — 3Play Media review from a G2 Crowd user in e-learning.


Express pricing is $3/minute for English and $4.50/minute for Spanish, with no minimum commitment. Pro pricing offers discounts for volume, with a minimum $750 commitment. Quotes for pro pricing are available here.

Defining features

English and Spanish closed captioning, audio descriptions of online video, various plugins and tools for clients

Key benefits

Guaranteed 99 percent accuracy, 800 US-based transcriptionists, easy caption & subtitle editor

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Vanan Captioning

The impressive list of past clients for Vanan Captioning services includes Intel, GE, NASA and Harvard. Visitors to the clean, user-friendly website can fill out a simple form and get a quote for captioning services starting at a low $1/minute.

Captions performed by Vanan specialists are embedded into video files and exported into just about any file format you could need for your business. Subtitling services are offered for world languages from Arabic to Urdu and everything in between. You can put Vanan to the test with a free trial: up to three minutes of captioning in any language you so desire.


Standalone English captioning is $1/minute and $1.99/minute with transcription. Open/closed English captioning is $5/minute and $5.99/minute with transcription. Additional pricing information is available here and a free quote is available here.

Defining features

Open/closed captioning, subtitling in 100-plus languages

Key benefits

Free trial, bundled transcription and translation services, simple project request and payment

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We’re proud to launch this category of B2B services, which we hope will make captioning even easier and, in turn, promote inclusivity efforts across the globe. Nearly 40 million adults in the U.S. alone report some difficulty hearing, and any attempt to make your content accessible to them is a step in the right direction. You’ll make some new friends and maybe even some new customers along the way.

If you’ve worked with any of these providers and feel strongly about your experience, feel free to write a review on the company’s listing. Once we have three products with more than 10 reviews, we can create a Grid® to show the leaders in the category. Category Grids®, like closed captioning, are an excellent visual aid that translates a jumble of information into something easily digestible. The more reviews we gather in a services category like this one, the more transparent the buying journey for others like you. So if a closed captioning company spells something out for you, roll up or pop on to G2 Crowd and spell out your feedback for the world to see.

Beyond closed captioning services

As noted above, closed captioning services are a form of Translation Services. Here's a look at Amazon's expansion into the world of translation services, and what that means for the space.

Read More

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Spelling It Out With Help From Closed Captioning Services


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