Closed captions for streaming services compared
Need closed captions or subtitles to watch your favourite TV shows and movies on stream? These Internet TV providers offer just that.
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Closed captioning (CC) and subtitles help anyone who requires (or would prefer) to watch their shows and movies with audio descriptions instead of sound.
These written transcripts are a crucial tool for those with hearing impairments or folks learning a new language, as they allow them to understand and watch the movie at its very best.
To help you enjoy entertainment your way, we've compared a range of Australian streaming and video-on-demand services to determine whether they support closed captions and subtitles. We've also laid out how to enable and disable them as needed.
When it comes to CC, Netflix trumps all in its dedication to providing as much of its material with closed captioning or subtitle options as possible. This high ratio of CC options to movies means that anyone requiring a visual transcription of dialogue and sound can pretty much watch everything that it offers without hindrance.
That said, most streaming services these days support subtitles and closed captions for the majority of their content, so you have plenty of choice if closed captioning is important to you.
Closed captions vs subtitles: What's the difference?
Yes, closed captioning and subtitles ARE different. While some countries use the words interchangeably, technically both options serve different purposes. CC is for the hearing impaired and is therefore meant to replace both sound and dialogue. Subtitles, on the other hand, assume that the viewer is capable of hearing and therefore only transcribes dialogue (say, for foreign films) to help the viewer understand what is being said.
So when you notice that the "captions" at the bottom of your screen are telling you that birds are singing or that someone's knocking on a door off-screen, you have closed captions activated. They're also pretty good at separating character's dialogue by using word placement, which is especially important when you've got a lot of people talking and it's difficult to keep up with who's saying what. With subtitles, they tend not to make this differentiation so obvious.
How to enable closed captions and subtitles
Use the buttons below to navigate the guide.
How to adjust subtitles and CC on Netflix
You can turn on and save subtitles and closed captions on your Netflix shows easily. How you will turn on your subtitles will vary depending on which device you are using to watch your shows. Typically, you'll be looking for the "Dialogue" button, which looks like this:
Here's how to access subtitles for specific devices:
- Mac / PC: Begin playback on your selected title, move your mouse over the screen and click on the "Dialogue" icon to select your preferred subtitle options.
- Blu-ray / digital TV / set-top box: Launch Netflix, select your title and click "Audio & Subtitles" from the options panel. Once you've chosen your options, press "Back" to return to the options panel and then hit "Play" to watch.
- Xbox One / 360: Launch the Netflix app and begin playback of your selected title. When in playback, press "Down" to access "Audio & Subtitles". Highlight the link and press "A" then select your options. If you've turned off closed captions yet are still seeing subtitles, you can disable them on your Xbox One by selecting "Settings > Closed Captioning > Closed Captioning Off" or on your Xbox 360 by selecting "Settings > System > Console Settings > Display > Closed Captioning > Off". Don't forget to save and exit afterwards.
- iPad / iPhone / iPod: Begin playback on your selected title and tap anywhere on the screen. Click on the "Dialogue" button in the top right corner and select your preferred subtitle option. Click "Done" when complete. If subtitle settings on your device are affected by this, you can alter this by going to: "Settings > General > Accessibility > Subtitles & Captioning > Style".
- PS3 / PS4: Launch the Netflix app and begin playback of your selected title. When in playback, press "Down" to access "Audio & Subtitles". Highlight the link, press "X" then select your options.
- Wii / Wii U: Launch the Netflix channel and use the "A" button to select your title. On the description page, click the "Dialogue" button on the right of the screen and select your preferred options. When done, click "Play" to resume watching.
- NOOK / Android device / Chromecast: Begin playback on your selected title and tap anywhere on the screen. Click on the "Dialogue" icon to select your preferred subtitle option. Click "Done" when complete.
- Apple TV: You will need to have Software Version 5.0 or higher installed on your TV to enable subtitles and closed captions. To access and adjust these, hold down the centre button on your remote and select your preferred audio and subtitle options.
- Google TV: Select your movie or TV show and choose "Audio & Subtitles" to adjust them. Select "Play" to resume watching.
- Roku: On the description page of your selected title, click "Audio & Subtitles" and choose your preferred options. Then, press "Back" to return to the description page and hit "Play" to watch. Newer device may allow you to access audio and subtitles during playback by pressing the "Down" arrow.
To save or adjust your subtitles or CC, you will have to play your TV show or movie for at least five minutes in order for your preference to be set. You can also customise the appearance of your subtitles and captions if you're unhappy with the default look of them. You will need to log into your Netflix account online, visit "Your Account" and go to the "Subtitle Appearance" link under the "Your Profile" section. If you are viewing Netflix from an Apple TV and iOS device, you'll need to complete your customisation preference via your device and not the website.
How to adjust captions and subtitles on Stan
If a title supports closed captions, you'll see a "CC" icon beneath its name. This applies both to the Stan website and the Stan app. To activate closed captions, start watching the show or movie and select the CC or icon. You can then choose the language of the captions from a list of supported languages.
For certain foreign-language titles, Stan uses burnt-in subtitles. These cannot be turned off.
How to adjust captions and subtitles on Foxtel
There are two ways to enable captions and subtitles for Foxtel. If you want to enable them for a specific show, start watching that show and press the "Setup" button (for iQ and iQ2 set-top boxes) or the "i" button (for iQ3 and iQ4 set-top boxes). Select the closed captions option and set it to "on" to activate.
Alternatively, you can enable closed captions as default (where available) for all content you watch on Foxtel. On iQ and iQ2 boxes, you'll need to press the "Active" button and select setup > advanced settings > picture settings > captions & banner settings. There, highlight the closed captions options and select "on". Remember to select "save new settings" before you exit.
For iQ3 and iQ4 boxes, you can simply press the "i" button then press the yellow button on your remote to turn closed captions on.
How to adjust captions and subtitles on Fetch
Fetch offers some closed captioning. Look out for the CC symbol to find out if the show/movie you'd like to view offers closed captioning. You can find this symbol by doing any of the following:
- Press the "INFO" button twice when watching a channel.
- Press "Menu" on your remote to access the "Electronic Program Guide". Navigate to "TV > TV Guide". Then, press "info" on a specific program for CC details.
- When in the "Electronic Program Guide", you can also hit the blue button to see the "List View". The CC logo will appear beneath the program description.
To enable closed captions, press the "Text" button on your remote control.
How to adjust captions and subtitles on Telstra TV
To access your subtitle and closed captions option, navigate to the "Settings" menu from the "Home" screen. You'll find a "Captions" menu here that will allow you to turn closed captions on and off.
Depending on what content you're watching, you may also need to activate closed captions on an app-by-app basis. You'll likely find the relevant option in the app's "Settings" menu.
How to adjust captions and subtitles on Amazon Prime Video
If a movie or TV show supports closed captions on Amazon Prime Video, you can activate them by starting the video and selecting the "CC" or "Subtitles" option from the playback controls.
You can also customise the size, colour and positioning of subtitles by going into your video settings on the Prime Video website and navigating to the "Subtitles Preferences" menu.
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