Deaf News: Two thirds of viewers would switch on-demand provider for subtitles, report finds

Posted on October 14, 2015


A new report by charity Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID) into on-demand subtitling – including on catch-up TV and online film services – has found that more than two thirds of those who pay for subscriptions would switch their TV service providers if more on-demand content with subtitles was available elsewhere.

The report, entitled ‘Progress on pause: spelling out the case for subtitles on on-demand services’, comes off the back of the charity’s Subtitle It! campaign over summer 2015. Over 3,750 people with hearing loss got involved and completed an online survey about how they watch on-demand content, and what barriers they face to accessing it.

89% of those who responded said that they rely on subtitles to watch TV at least some of the time, and 87% have started to watch a programme on demand and found that it had no subtitles. Nine out of ten people stated that they think the government should regulate to ensure subtitles are available for on-demand services.

Paul Breckell, chief executive at Action on Hearing Loss, said: “This report has unearthed some astonishing statistics about on-demand subtitling and highlighted huge barriers faced by people living with hearing loss when trying to access on-demand content. Whilst traditional television services are obliged by law to include subtitling, the way we watch TV has changed dramatically, and the law needs to be updated to include on-demand services.

“There’s a clear, demonstrable business case here for service providers to up their game and make their content fully accessible to everyone. There are 10million people in the UK living with hearing loss and it is about time we ended their digital exclusion.”

According to the report, 83% of people with hearing loss have missed out on an on-demand programme, film or series altogether, due to a lack of subtitles, and the latest figures from the on-demand services regulator ATVOD found that 80% of UK on-demand services had no subtitles.

Lilian Greenwood MP has backed the campaign and has submitted a Private Members Bill to the House of Commons.

To find out more about the Subtitle It! campaign and to take a look at the report, please visit

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