General Netflix Captioning and Subtitle Requirements

Posted by Anne Quach on August 17, 2021.

Netflix is a market leader in the video streaming industry with over 207 million subscribers around the world. One of the reasons behind this success is their constant effort in bringing the best viewing experience for all audiences, from the deaf and hard of hearing to non-native audiences.

In 2012, Netflix and the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) partnered up to make sure 100% of Netflix content would include closed captions by 2014. The platform has strict rules and requirements when it comes to the quality of subtitles, closed caption, and dubbing in different languages. And the bar is continuously raised.

Netflix typically accepts the subtitles that are provided by the content providers. If you are submitting your content to Netflix, following their requirements is a must. Even if you create subtitles for other platforms or purposes, learning from their strict standards is helpful to enhance an enjoyable viewing experience for your audiences.

Here are the general Netflix captioning and subtitle requirements to meet.

1. Character Limitation and Line Treatment

Netflix captioning and subtitle requirement for the maximum number of characters per line is 42 characters.

One line of captions or subtitles is preferred by Netflix. If the number of characters exceeds the limitation, it must be broken into 2 lines, following some strict principles:

When the line should be broken?

  • before prepositions
  • before conjunctions
  • after punctuation marks

Elements that should not be separated by two lines:

  • a noun and an adjective
  • a noun and an article
  • a verb and a subject pronoun
  • a first name and a last name
  • a verb and an auxiliary, reflexive pronoun or negation
  • a prepositional verb and its preposition

2. Reading Speed

The speed of captions and subtitles for Netflix programs varies based on the age groups of audiences.

  • Program for adults: 20 characters per second
  • Program for children: 17 characters per second.

3. Duration

Captions or subtitles require a duration (also known as load time or build-up time) in order to be displayed at the correct time. Netflix captioning and subtitle requirement regulates the minimum and maximum duration of subtitle events as follows:

  • The minimum duration is five-sixths (5/6) of a second per subtitle event
  • The maximum duration is 7 seconds per subtitle event

4. File Format

Files should be in TTML1 format (either .xml or .ttml) for all languages, except for Japanese which should be delivered in IMSC1.1 format (.xml) in order to meet Netflix captioning and subtitle requirements.

5. Glyph List

Nonstandard characters such as numbers, currency symbols, punctuation, or accented vowels are called glyphs. Only characters from the Netflix accepted glyph list can be used in the captions or subtitles.

6. Positioning

  • For all languages, captions and subtitles for Netflix programs should be centred justified and placed at the bottom or top of the screen.

Netflix Captioning and Subtitle Requirement - Position 3

The captions are placed at the top of the screen instead of the bottom to avoid overlapping the video text.

  • For the Japanese language, captions can be placed vertically when necessary.
  • In case of unavoidable interference (e.g. video text at the top and bottom of the screen), captions and subtitles can be placed where it is easiest to read for viewers.

Netflix Captioning and Subtitle Requirement - Position 2

Since there are many characters in the conversation, the captions are placed near the one who is speaking instead of being centred justified.

7. Consistency

To ensure consistency across episodes and seasons, KNPs or formality tables must be created and used for translation. The KNP template can be found here or content creators can contact the Netflix team to discuss the most suitable KNP workflow for your content.

8. Currency and Brand Names

Currency mentioned in dialogue should not be converted into captions or subtitle files. For example, if the character talks about Yen, you shouldn’t convert it into USD for American audiences.

The case of brand names is more complicated. You should handle them in one of the solutions below:

  • Use the English brand name if it is popular and widely-known used in that country.
  • Use the localized name of the brand name widely used in that country.
  • Use a generic term for the brand name.

Note: You must not swap one brand for another company’s trademarked item.

9. Translator Credits

Only translators who translated an asset are credited, not the company. The credit should be displayed after the end of the main program, during the copyright disclaimer card.


Keep Updated on Netflix Captioning and Subtitle Requirements

The requirements for Netflix captioning and subtitles are constantly updated or changed, thus, you should always keep yourself updated here.

At GTE Media, our subtitlers and transcriptionists are certified to create subtitles and captions that meet the latest Netflix specifications and requirements. Contact us for professional Netflix closed captioning and subtitling services for Asian languages.

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