Why having subtitles matters in long-form video

 

Long-form video is more popular than it’s ever been. The rise of video streaming services has seen a boom in longer content. Netflix & chill anyone?

Add to that the increasing popularity of video over image-based content on social media and you have a powerful tool that consumers have an insatiable appetite for.

But have you thought about how you could further optimise this seemingly-perfect medium? What if there was a way you could make the best even better?

Well, there is one way.

Subtitles.

What is classed as long-form video?

 

First off, let’s define what we mean by “long-form video”. Long-form video is generally classed as video content that lasts longer than 10 minutes and has an identifiable beginning, middle, and end.

That being said, the answer can be a little more complex. For instance, your run-of-the-mill TV ad lasts around 30 seconds, so a 90-second ad would feel like a relative eternity. In this context, we would probably class the 90-second ad as long-form.

But for the sake of sanity and simplicity, this article will be referring to long-form video as the former.

 

Why having subtitles matters in long-form video

 

Now, onto the good stuff – subtitles.

You may be wondering how something that once seemed so trivial and niche can be so important to your video content.

Hopefully, by the end of this list, you’ll have a much better understanding of why they can be pivotal to a video’s reach and overall success.

1. Accessibility

Large swathes of your audience are going to speak your language and have perfect hearing.

But a lot of them won’t.

People that watch your videos won’t always have the perfect conditions to sit down and listen to the audio that accompanies your long-form video.

They might be on public transport and not want to play the video out loud, they may be deaf or hard of hearing, they may not speak your language – the list goes on.

So how do you capture these members of your audience effectively? How do you include a large portion of viewers who are often neglected?

Subtitles.

2. Audio isn’t as popular as you might think

Did you know that 85% of Facebook users watch videos with the sound off?

Those stats are broadly similar for the other social platforms (with the exception of Tik Tok – but nobody is sharing long-form videos on there…).

Add to that a study from OFCOM that revealed only 20% of those using subtitles on their TV were actually hard of hearing and you can see why we should be rethinking the universal appeal of audio in long-form video content.

3. Comprehension & engagement is improved

People like to multitask.

It’s something that grows ever more popular by the day, as people scramble to cram more activities into less time.

And it’s no secret that we tend to dip in and out of video content, especially longer content as we respond to texts, send out emails, do the ironing and myriad other things whilst watching our favourite shows.

So how do we offer viewers the chance to do all of this whilst keeping them engaged?

You guessed it – subtitles.

The main reason that users gave for using subtitles in a viral social media thread was that they allowed them to keep abreast of what was going on in the program whilst being able to perform other tasks and activities.

So, subtitles keep viewers more engaged. More engaged viewers increase the time spent watching your videos. More time spent watching your videos equates to a better SEO ranking. And that equates to more viewers. It’s cyclical.

In a nutshell, subtitles will help you to build and retain your audience.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

If you want to learn more about long-form video and how we can help, head over to our video services page. 

Author Charlie Southall

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