The Future of Closed Captions May Look Like Podcast Karaoke

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Legally-mandated closed captioning — not transcripts — may soon be coming to podcasting. The technology to enable this already exists. And it might usher in a re-imagining of what we used to call enhanced podcasts.

Closed Captions Provide A Different Experience

In our house, we always have closed captioning on when we’re watching anything on the television. Subtitles appear when we’re watching tv shows, movies, documentaries, the Hamilton musical, even live sports. Back when we used to watch live sports.

Overcoming The Technical Hurdle Of Closed Captions For Podcasts

But how is that done on the fly? What about dynamically inserted audio? Isn’t this just one more burden to place on the shoulders of already overworked podcasters and podcast production teams?

Does a solution for closed captioning podcasts already exist?

Spoiler: It does. Descript has already implemented the technology to do this. I use their AI engine to make the transcripts of my episodes, but their software does a lot more than that. Descript already “times” the transcription to the audio file. So when you hit “play” in a Descript transcript, the words highlight along with the audio, as you can see in this video:

Not All Closed Captioning Is Created Equal

Not all podcasts require “on the fly” captioning. Some of the most popular podcasts have a months-long development cycle per episode. For those, it’s not terribly arduous to imagine the development of an “official” subtitle track as part of the post-production process.

Yes, People With Hearing Loss Consume Podcasts

Even though the pieces exist, I know that building a podcast app that seamlessly handles closed captions — either generated on-the-fly or baked into the metadata of an episode — takes work.

Podcast philosopher. Professional contrarian. On a mission to make podcasting better. Hip he/him. คุณ | http://PodcastPontifications.com | http://Simpler.Media

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