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YouTube Update: Automatic Captions On All Channels & More
November 11th, 2021 by Terri Pinyerd

After removing viewer-sourced community captions in September 2020, YouTube has rolled out automatic live captions to all channels across the site, along with auto-translation for mobile, new channel roles, and a search feature for video transcripts.

Automatic Captions On All Channels


The 2020 decision to remove community captions and require content creators to upload their own captions was met with controversy, as many viewers felt the platform was disregarding the deaf community. In fact, half a million users signed an online petition urging YouTube to return the community-based captions featured. While YouTube’s automatic caption feature has remained, its speech-to-text process isn’t always accurate, resulting in confusion especially when niche pop culture words are used or when content creators have particular accents.


However, the platform has no plans to reintegrate its community-based caption feature and has recently announced that it will be is expanding its automatic caption feature across the site. Previously, the feature was only available on channels with a minimum of 1,000 subscribers or as a beta feature for select channels. 


Along with automatic captions, YouTube is rolling out their auto-translation subtitle feature to their mobile app. This will allow users to enjoy more content across different languages on their mobile devices.


New Channel Permissions For Subtitles


While open access community captions are no longer an option, channel owners now have the ability to assign channel permissions to a trusted user to allow them to update the subtitles on a video. This means that content creators can outsource the process of video transcription or delegate a trusted community member to transcribe for them.


Search Feature For Video Transcriptions


Alongside automatic captions for every video on the platform, YouTube is also integrating a search feature for video transcriptions. Transcripts were already searchable on desktop (using CTRL+F), playing a large part in YouTube SEO as spoken keywords would appear in text and therefore influence search results. However, the change brings a search function directly in the transcript box, allow less tech-savvy users the ability to search for keywords more readily.


What Does This Mean For My Channel?


While you probably already knew that including keywords in your video was an important element of YouTube SEO, it’s more important than ever now that a larger user base will be searching transcripts. The integration of these new features also means that users are more likely to search for specific snippets of content within a video, and less likely to watch the video all the way through. This means that keeping your videos short and sweet can play a huge role in your video retention as well as your channel following. 


It’s also important to watch your video all the way through after posting to ensure that the automatic captions are accurate. If you notice a significant amount of misinterpreted content, it might be a sign to upload your own captions or outsource the transcription process. 


Finally, prepare yourself for the potential of more views and subscribers thanks to the new auto-translation feature on mobile apps, which will put your content in front of a wider audience than before. 


You can learn more about this update here.


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