2023: Know all about Broadcast Captioning in the United States

Skip links

Everything you need to know about Broadcast Captioning in the US

Everything you need to know about Broadcast Captioning in the US

Broadcast and Captioning Industry

Broadcast Media is one of the most powerful mass communication mediums which includes any form of audio and video delivery of content. Predominantly, it is the Television, Radio, Podcasts, and Internet videos that are aimed at reaching the masses. Video content in Television and Digital Media has gained increasing popularity, especially with the onset of the pandemic.

Captioning is a part of providing digital accessibility to any video content. It is not only the number of audiences that have increased for video content, it is also an increase in the wide variety of audiences coming from multiple language backgrounds, the need to be in noise-sensitive environments, and the hard-of-hearing population. Captioning and Subtitling resolves this challenge in making all audiences inclusive and contributing to business growth and ROI. 

Market Size of Broadcast & Captioning Industry in the US

Television media

The market size of the Television Broadcast industry is $63.20 billion, and is expected to increase at 0.6% in 2022, says the IBIS World Industry report as of Sep 2021.  The global Captioning and Subtitling Solution market size are projected to reach US$ 441.7 million by 2027, from US$ 261 million in 2020, says the Valuates Report, a market research consulting firm. The above statistics simply means that the number of audiences and types of audiences have risen exponentially.

Broadcast Captioning - Laws & Guidelines

Media guidelines

The bill, the Television Decoder Circuitry Act, was passed in 1990 by the U.S Congress. This allowed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to draft new rules for the broadcasting industry to include closed captions for all video content. This bill was a huge leap in establishing an equal opportunity for the hard of hearing people, as it was passed the same year as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

FCC established closed captions as mandatory in 1998 for all video programs, especially for news, entertainment, and information to all individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. This necessitated all video programming distributors (VPDs) – cable operators, broadcasters, satellite distributors, and other multi-channel video programming distributors to caption all of their TV programs. FCC states that closed captions need to be accurate, synchronous, complete, and correctly placed.

In addition, a new act was passed in October 2020 by President Barrack Obama by the name, CVAA – Communications and Video Accessibility Act. This act was passed to ensure the accessibility laws are on par with 21st century technologies like digital, broadband, and mobile innovations.  CVAA includes separate titles which lay out the guidelines for video programming.

The Necessity of Closed Captions in the Broadcast Industry

Until the 1970’s closed captions were not included in the Broadcast Industry. It was by 1979 when the National Captioning Institute was founded and in 1982, the institute developed a process to have live captions in broadcasting. The advent of the National Captioning Institute contributed to the increase in the use of closed captions.  

A recent WHO report mentions that by 2050 nearly 2.5 billion people are projected to have some degree of hearing loss and at least 700 million will require hearing rehabilitation. In addition, the number of video viewers in noise-sensitive environments have also increased multifold, especially after the boom of 21st century digital innovations. Invariably, global audiences with multiple language backgrounds are highly interested in watching video content from many other countries and languages. 

The only way to cater to varied audiences is by meeting the substantial demand of digital accessibility.

Types of Broadcast Captioning


Captioning as such are of two types – Open and Closed Captions; and the format it appears for Television and Digital Media varies.

Television Broadcast Captioning

There are two types of Closed Captioning available for Television broadcasting CEA 608 and CEA 708 Format. 

CEA 608 Format: The very first closed caption format developed during the Analog TV era, before 2009. This is also called Line 21 captions. This type of caption format can appear in both analog and digital broadcasts. 

CEA 708 Format: This is the modern standard for closed captions. These captions can appear in digital television broadcasts and in addition, can appear on other digital platforms like websites, android, and iOS devices.

CEA 608 FormatCEA 708 Format
Can appear in both analog and digital broadcastsCan appear only in digital broadcasts
Appears in a standard position at the bottom of the screen with a black background in white lettersCan appear anywhere on the screen as long as it complies to FCC guidelines without blocking the essential information on-screen.
Font size, type, and color are standard. Captions are always displayed in CAPSFont size, type, and color can be customized according to viewers’ choice.
Does not include punctuation, noises, or indicate which character is speakingIncludes punctuation, non-speech noises, and caption viewer will relate the caption to speaker
Cannot support special characters or alphabets used in other languagesSupports all special characters and alphabets used in most languages
Support 7 languages: French, German, Italian, Dutch, English, Portuguese, SpanishSupports almost all languages

Internet Videos Broadcast Captioning

All videos that go live or played as a pre-recorded content in any Internet oriented platforms like Zoom, Facebook, Youtube, Vimeo, GoToWebinar, Twitch, Videolinq, RingCentral, Webex, Adobe Connect and many other similar platforms.

There are two types of captioning for all such platforms namely the Open Captions (OC) and Closed Captions (CC). 

Open CaptionsClosed Captions
Usually burnt into the videoUsually given as a sidecar file
Appears on the screen always, cannot be turned off according to audience preferenceAppears on the screen only when it is clicked ON, the audience can choose to make it appear as and when required.
Popular captioning in social media videosUsually used for live online videos

Whatever be your broadcast medium – Television or Digital media, reach out to CaptioningStar

Services offered by CaptioningStar

CaptioningStar is one of the top companies in the United States offering a full suite of services in the Captioning Industry – Live Captioning, Translation, Subtitling, Transcription, Dubbing, Voice over and Video post-production and Video editing services. We have worked with over 500+ broadcast and film/ video production companies in the United States. All our services are compliant with the FCC and ADA guidelines. 

Contact us or take up our live chat and mention your questions. We shall get back to you within minutes. All our Captioners have over 15+ years of experience, are NCRA certified linguists, and are bilingual. Impeccable captions at competitive market pricing, and different turnaround times that can accommodate client last-minute requirements. 

Premium Captions. Over 99.9% accuracy. 100% Human Live Captioners. Faster TAT. Best Prices.