Netflix TV users can now customize the appearance of subtitles and subtitles on the streaming platform, allowing subscribers to customize the size and style of the text. The new feature, announced on Wednesday, can switch the text size of subtitles between small, medium, and large, and change the overall appearance of the text to make it more readable.
In addition to the standard white text, Netflix now offers three new text style options with contrasting backgrounds to make the text stand out: Light (black text / white background), Drop Shadow (white text / black background), and Contrast (yellow text / black background).
Netflix already offers similar subtitle customizations over the web. Now the feature is also available to TV users worldwide, a welcome update given that Netflix reported in 2018 that 70 percent of content is watched on TVs, and that smart TVs and app-supported streaming boxes have only grown in popularity since then. Other streaming platforms such as Disney Plus, Hulu, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime Video also offer similar user customizations to their own subtitles.
There are clear accessibility benefits. The subtitle adjustments allow Netflix TV users with visual or hearing impairments and auditory processing disorders to customize their viewing experience. Making the text of subtitles and closed captions easier to read also helps to improve focus for people with cognitive disorders or who are easily distracted.
But also beyond accessibility, poorly mixed audio on streaming platforms probably led to a large proportion of consumers now turning on subtitles when watching TV shows and movies. a study by Preply Last year, it found that 50 percent of Americans watch subtitled content and 62 percent use subtitles more on streaming services compared to regular TV. 70 percent of Gen Z users admitted to turning on closed captions as well, suggesting those numbers aren’t just made up of aging, hard-of-hearing individuals. Unless streaming platforms take steps to improve the audio quality of their content, many more of us will have to use subtitles or captions to understand unintelligible conversations on screen.