Subtitle Pricing

Pricing and cost for subtitling

Price/cost for subtitling can be divided in 3 major parts;

  • Price/cost for subtitling can be divided in 3 major parts;
  • Administrative cost for handling “subtitles” within the operator domain.
  • Investment and support for the technical platform handling subtitles.


The subtitling service, the service of generating subtitle files with text and timecode, can be in-house or outsourced. The amount of manpower required to administer “subtitling” can only be answered by the operator, at Cavena we have seen anything between ½ man year to about 10 persons handling subtitles. This does not include the service of generating subtitles.


It’s given that the investment in Cavena or any of our peers various considerably pending technology and size, i.e. number of channels. File based play-out has a higher initial investment, as a number of different platforms/services are required no matter number of channels in use. This is among others archive and controlling. In-vision, open captions/burned in costs more as the video chain has to be interrupted which is not the case for DVB bitmaps, which is just an insertion to the transport stream.


Another cost driver is the main and back up structure, some operators work with no back up or a simple cold manual back up, while others have full automatic fail over functionality built in, sometimes also including a DR site. DR for Disaster Recovery, a mirror of the complete play-out centre at a different location. Based on the above it’s very difficult to indicate any pricing, however a ball park figure for a complete file based installation would be; 50-150 000 EURO. Transcoding solutions are considerably cheaper.


There are similar difficulties to indicate pricing/cost for subtitle services. A global estimate would be anything from 5-25 EURO per minute of video.


Some general facts on quality subtitling are;

  • Quality and quality! High quality subtitling is actually 20% less words written compared to spoken.
  • Quality with regards to in-time and out-time of each subtitle row. More than 3 frames wrong and some end customers will complain. Some operators do not allow subtitles in picture during a scene change.
  • Subtitle row position, some operators accept that the subtitles are at the bottom all the time, some demand a changed VPOS if there is any interesting at bottom of picture.
  • Many OTT platforms require and use the SRTsubtitle file format, this is text and timecode only, no VPOS or attributes at all.


The Cavena slogan is: “Two rows of text – how difficult can it be?”. Looking at the quality demands of some large operators it can be quite difficult and demanding. Note. There is one large OTT operator presenting quality performance for each of its subtitle service provider.


Do note that the subtitling service is the main cost driver for most operators. Lets take an example with; 2 * 45 min of video per day, 2 languages per video, then the annual cost would be; 2 shows * 2 languages * 45 minutes * 8 EURO per minute * 365 days = 525 600 EURO per annum.


Price indications for dubbing is about 10 times more compared to regular subtitling, 250-500 EURO per minute, number of voices/actors required being one key cost driver.


And less expensive than dubbing, however more costly than subtitling is; voice-over. One voice for the whole video, with background noise constantly adjusted up and down. A dreadful technology that we hope will come to an end, the sooner – the better.

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