Americans Are Using Subtitles More Often, with Poor Audio Mixing and Hard-to-Hear Dialogue Being Chief Complaints

Image: Warner Bros.

Poor audio is one of the top reasons as to why more and more Americans are watching video content with subtitles enabled, according to language-teaching app Preply, which surveyed over 1,200 Americans this year on whether they use on-screen text and learned that many, particularly younger generations (i.e., Gen Z and Millennials), prefer to watch content with subtitles on for reasons that include hard-to-hear dialogue and background music that’s too loudly mixed:

Our results confirmed that 53% of Americans are using subtitles more often than they used to, and audio mixing issues seem to be at least part of the reason why. A whopping 78% have difficulty hearing dialogue due to loud background music in films and TV shows, leading 55% of respondents to agree that it is harder to hear dialogue on screen than it used to be.

When it comes to productions being overall not as well lit, 44% of Americans agree that recent productions are using darker visuals than past ones. Not only that, but 35% agree that actors and TV personalities are talking faster than they used to.

Image: Preply

Here are some of the reasons as to why Americans are using subtitles, according to a second infographic that lists Gen Z as the generation that’s most likely to use subtitles (70%):

  • Nearly 3 in 4 respondents claimed muddled audio from their content.
  • 61% use them when accents are difficult to understand.
  • 29% prefer to watch their content at home quietly, leaving subtitles on so as not to disturb roommates or family.
  • 27% of Americans rely on subtitles to keep them focused on what they are watching while juggling the distractions of multiple screens, children, pets, work, the news, and more.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 regularly use subtitles in order to learn a new language.
Image: Preply

Tom Hardy, Sofia Vergara, and Arnold Schwarzenegger are some of the celebrities who Americans have the toughest time understanding, further survey results suggest, with
Peaky Blinders, Derry Girls, and Game of Thrones topping the list of TV shows where respondents had trouble understanding dialogue.

Image: Preply

Over 50% of Americans have used subtitles to better understand actors with an accent, with Scottish seemingly being the accent that Americans have the hardest time understanding.

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