The best Internet TV for closed captions

Stephanie Yip 30 March 2015

closed captions

If you need closed captions or subtitles to watch your favourite TV shows and movies on stream then these Internet TV providers offer just that.

Closed captioning and subtitles mean that anyone who requires (or would prefer) to see the audio written down for them is able to watch their shows and movies without raising an eyebrow wondering, "What the heck is going on?"

These written translations can be a helpful tool for those with hearing impairments, are hard of hearing or are learning a new language, to allow them to understand and watch the movie at its very best.

So because there's nothing worse than being left out of a joke, here's a comparison of which Video On Demand services and whether they enable you to access closed captioning and subtitles or not (and how you can turn them on, if they do).

Happy watching!

Want all the TV shows and movies? You can get a free trial with each of the streaming internet tv providers below:

Internet TV providerClosed captioning / (Y/N)Additional information
NetflixYNetflix takes pride in providing closed captions and subtitles for all its TV shows and movies, so virtually all content offers this.
StanLimited content onlyMainly foreign films with English subtitles "burnt in" to the picture and any shows that have a CC icon on the video's details page before playback.
PrestoNClosed captions aren't currently available on Presto.
FoxtelYAvailable on 72 of its channels. Foxtel Go, Foxtel Now, Anytime and Store do not currently support closed captions.
Fetch TVYAvailable for many programs, including 20 Free-To-Air channels and 17 subscription TV channels.
QuickflixNQuickflix are currently working on closed captioning for its TV and movies.
Telstra / T-BoxLimited content onlySubtitles and closed captioning is available on select free-to-air and foreign movies in the BigPond Movies store. Closed captions aren't currently available on BigPond Movies or BigPond TV.

The verdict?

When it comes to closed captions, Netflix trumps all in its dedication to providing as much of its material with closed captioning or subtitle options as possible. While the Netflix library might not be as extensive as its competitors (for the moment), this high ratio of closed caption options to movies means that anyone requiring a visual transcription of dialogue and sound can pretty much watch everything that it offers without hindrance.

Closed captions v 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. Closed captioning 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 translates 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've got closed captions on. They're also pretty good at separating character's dialogue by using word placement, which is especially handing 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 adjust subtitles and captions 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. Here's how to access subtitles for specific devices:

FYI Dialogue buttons look like this: Subtitles

  • Mac / PC: Begin playback on your selected titles, move your mouse over the screen and click on the Dialogue icon to select your preferred subtitle options.
  • Blu-Ray, Digital TV and 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 selected your preferred audio and subtitle options.
  • Google TV: Select your movie or TV show and select Audio & Subtitles to adjust audio and subtitles. 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 subtitle or closed captioning, 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

While their subtitles and captions are limited, Stan does still offer a few closed caption shows and movies but from the looks of things this is limited to their foreign titles. These subtitles / captions will appear automatically on the screen during playback. There doesn't seem to be an option at the moment to turn them on or off.

How to adjust captions and subtitles on Foxtel

To turn captions and subtitles on or off a specific title or channel on your IQ press the Setup button. Then, select Closed Captions and use the arrows to turn them on. Hit back to exit. If you wish to save closed captions as a default, press the Active button, then select: Setup > Advanced Settings > Picture Settings > Captions & Banner Settings. Highlight Closed Captions and select 'On'. Save and press Back to exit.

How to adjust captions and subtitles on Fetch TV

Fetch TV 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 T-Box

To access your subtitle and closed captions option, press the OK button on your remote while playing a title. This will open the Play menu as well as your Program Options. Use the remote's up and down arrows to select Subtitles, then choose 'English'. You can turn off subtitles by choosing 'None.'

Another way you can access your subtitles and closed caption options is to go to the Settings menu, select Display Settings and choose your subtitle preferences. Make sure you've chosen 'English' and not 'None' to ensure you've turned subtitles on.

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