Closed Captioning (CC)

Closed Captioning, which has been around since the 1970s, isn't anything new to advertisers. However, the rules governing how to use them with creative are constantly evolving. What do advertisers need to know about closed captioning now and moving forward?

Closed captioning is sometimes mandatory
Although many advertisers already use closed captioning on their spots voluntarily, did you know that’s it’s mandatory in some cases? Some networks require it for any creative running during the Super Bowl, and in Canada, any spots must be closed captioned in order to air. Closed captioning is also mandatory for content longer than five minutes in length in the U.S.

Know when to use “paint-on" vs. “pop-on" captions
There are several distinct ways of displaying closed captions. Pop-on captions are typically one or two lines of captions that come onscreen and are visible for several seconds before disappearing. Meanwhile, paint-on captions are “painted" on the screen letter-by-letter, not added on all at once. It’s important to remember to use paint-on rather than pop-on captions at the beginning of creative executions to avoid cutting off the first line(s) since pop-on captions require a 20-frame buffer. Check out our closed captioning best practices.

Captioning rules for digital creative
Although closed captioning has traditionally been associated with broadcast commercials, the FCC is continuously rolling out new rules for captions on digital creative. For instance, full-length Internet video programming and video clips (“straight lift" clips) distributed online already must be captioned if the programming is also shown on TV in the US with captions. Single files containing multiple straight lift video clips (“montages”) also need to be captioned. There are also requirements from the FCC for video clips of live and near-live TV programming.

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