Subtitles available for live channels on BBC iPlayer for the first time

27th July 2016


The BBC has begun trialling subtitles for live channels on BBC iPlayer in a worldwide first for any major video on-demand service. Up until now, subtitles have only been available for on-demand programmes.

The trial, currently available on PC and Mac computers* will enable deaf and hearing-impaired viewers to watch more BBC TV programmes than ever before. The BBC will test and improve the feature over the coming months before it is rolled out to BBC iPlayer’s app for mobiles and tablets – and over time to Connected TVs.

With almost 2m programmes available a day or 20% of all on-demand programmes watched using subtitles on BBC iPlayer – there is already huge demand for this feature to be extended to live content too.

Gareth Ford Williams, head of accessibility for the BBC said: “The BBC is already a world-leading provider of accessible services– but we know there is always more to do. We want to ensure our content and services are accessible to everyone – and this trial will give viewers who are deaf or hearing-impaired access to even more programming than ever before.”

Dr. Roger Wicks from Action on Hearing Loss said: “We welcome this breakthrough from the BBC, which is a huge step in the right direction for full accessibility for people who are deaf or have a hearing loss. Our Subtitle It! campaign has been working towards increasing online broadcasters’ use of subtitles on online content and we’re delighted that the BBC is leading the way by trialling this new feature.”

*Available on devices using the Flash version of the BBC Standard Media Player