For many, subtitles are a necessity. Whether you’re hard of hearing or your mouth is stuffed full of Doritos, humanity in general needs them. Hell, even without the Doritos, we can’t hear what’s being said anymore. Anyone that disagrees, try and watch Christopher Nolan’s Tenet without any subtitles. Provided the bland story doesn’t compel you to turn it off first.
Tenet aside, Netflix recently began rolling out a global update to TVs that’ll allow subscribers to customize subtitles via the TV app. And for once, South Africa isn’t the last to be brought up to date. Despite only announcing the update on Wednesday, local households began noticing the new feature as early as Thursday evening.
As ever, Netflix is late to its own party. The service’s web users have had this customisation for a while now. Tweaks on the web transferred to TV profiles but, with Netflix’s 2018 report stating that 70% of its users stream on their TVs, it’s not clear why it’s taken the company so long to bring the option directly to the TV app. Better late than never, we guess?
Netflix has added ‘small’ and ‘large’ sizing options, alongside three new ‘styles’ that’ll alter the subtitle’s appearance. Users have the choice of ‘Light’ (black text, white background), Drop Shadow (white text, black shadow), and the rogue ‘Contrast’ (yellow text), alongside the standard white text we’ve become accustomed to. If you want anything more complicated, you’ll have to head to the web browser subtitle settings.
A 2022 study by Preply showed us that nearly half of America’s population uses subtitles while 70% of Gen Z watchers admitting to throwing on subtitles without any diagnosed hearing impairments. It’s a sign of the changing times. Those numbers are only expected to rise if audio quality remains constant.