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Understanding the diverse needs of subtitle users in a rapidly evolving media landscape.

Armstrong, M.; Brown, A.; Crabb, M.; Hughes, C.J.; Jones, R.; Sandford, J.


M. Armstrong

A. Brown

M. Crabb

C.J. Hughes

R. Jones

J. Sandford


Audiences are increasingly using services such as video on demand and the web to watch television programmes. Broadcasters need to make subtitles available across all these new platforms. These platforms also create new design opportunities for subtitles along with the ability to customise them to an individual's needs. To explore these new opportunities for subtitles we have begun the process of reviewing the guidance for subtitles on television and evaluating the original user research. We have found that existing guidelines have been shaped by a mixture of technical constraints, industry practice and user research, constrained by existing technical standards. This paper provides an overview of the subtitle research at BBC R&D over the past two years. Our research is revealing significant diversity in the needs and preferences of frequent subtitle users, and points to the need for personalisation in the way subtitles are displayed. We are developing a new approach to the authoring and display of subtitles that can respond to the user requirements by adjusting the subtitle layout in the client device.


ARMSTRONG, M., BROWN, A., CRABB, M., HUGHES, C.J., JONES, R. and SANDFORD, J. 2015. Understanding the diverse needs of subtitle users in a rapidly evolving media landscape. In Proceedings of the 2015 International broadcasting convention (IBC) (IBC 2015), 10-14 September 2015, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Stevenage: IET [online]. Available from:

Conference Name 2015 International broadcasting convention (IBC) (IBC 2015)
Conference Location Amsterdam, Netherlands
Start Date Sep 10, 2015
End Date Sep 14, 2015
Acceptance Date Apr 15, 2015
Online Publication Date Sep 14, 2015
Publication Date Sep 14, 2015
Deposit Date Jun 9, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jun 9, 2017
Publisher Institution of Engineering and Technology
Article Number 032
Keywords Radio; Television; Broadcasting; Video on demand; Web to watch; Subtitles
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