Let’s paint a picture: You’re scrolling through your phone and come across a Reel from a new podcast on your “For You Page.” You start watching it, but your headphones die, a baby cries in the background, dogs start barking, and a Hulk smashes an alien into the bus stop you’re standing next to. Did we mention you’re in the Marvel Universe?

Anyways…You try to rewind the video and increase the volume, but you still can’t understand it. Frustrated, you continue scrolling, completely forgetting the podcast, and try to look for some cover. 

While this short story may seem *slightly* dramatic, the truth is that it happens every day. Listeners are everywhere, and they consume content everywhere. But there is a lot of competition out there. If listeners experience difficulties understanding or consuming content, they likely will continue scrolling.

In today’s digital landscape, podcasters need to create content. However, it needs to be high-quality content to attract ears and eyes. Creating content just for the sake of creating content is not enough. Podcasters need to break out of the “checklist” mindset when it comes to content creation if they are serious about growing their audience and show. 

For podcasters, content must be accessible, engaging, and supportive of a positive listening experience—especially regarding podcast videos. Adding captions to podcast videos is an easy win for developing quality content.

In this blog post, you guessed it, we’re talking about captions! We’ll discuss the different forms captions can take, highlight the benefits captions provide to podcasters, explain how to use them, and give you some helpful resources to get started.

So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Types of captions 

First thing is first, though – what are captions?

Captions are textual representations of spoken word. They appear as synchronized text that accompanies an audio track. Captions aim to create more accessible, engaging content that helps podcasters reach a wider audience. 

There are two main types of captions: open captions and closed captions. 

Closed captions

Closed captions are created from transcripts and are considered accessibility features that viewers can toggle on and off as needed. Think of closed captions as TV or YouTube subtitles. Closed captions are not baked into the video itself. The end consumer or listener controls them.

Open captions

Open captions, on the other hand, appear as part of the video. They are native to the content and cannot be toggled off by viewers. 

With open captions, podcasters have more control over their appearance. Podcasters can style the captions to make them a more engaging part of the video.

If you’ve ever seen captions with colors or animations, those are open captions!

Transcripts vs. captions

Captions vs. transcripts. What’s the difference?  

Transcripts, like captions, are exactly written audio or video file accounts. Transcripts are uploaded simultaneously with your content and are essential to Podcasting 2.0.

Unlike captions, transcripts are considered supplemental content. Depending on the platform, they appear in various ways. On podcast players like Apple Podcasts, transcripts appear as readable documents. On video platforms like YouTube, transcripts create closed captions. So, whatever is in the transcript will be reflected in the video subtitles or closed captions that the listener can turn on. 

Why add captions to podcast videos

There are lots of advantages to adding captions to podcast videos. 

Captions elevate content quality. Adding captions to podcast videos helps enhance content accessibility, create more engaging content, and promote a positive listening experience. In short, adding captions to podcast videos sets your podcast up for success.

Let’s look more in-depth at the advantages captions provide in podcast videos. 

1. Caption Podcast Videos for Accessibility 

The first reason podcasters should add captions to podcast videos is captions make content more accessible. Captions are especially important for listeners with hearing impairments or non-native speakers. 

The more accessible your content is, the more people can enjoy it!


Podcasters open their content to a broader, more diverse audience by adding captions to podcast videos. 

A more connected world calls for captions.

As the world becomes increasingly digital and connected, podcasters must consider the totality of their potential audience. Today’s potential audience includes listeners worldwide! 

For example, in the UK and US alone, it is estimated that two-thirds of viewers consume content in a non-native language. Popular streaming platforms, like Netflix, continue to garner viewer attention worldwide. However, Netflix has the ability and budget to dub content, making content readily accessible for non-native speakers.

However, not all creators have that luxury, and even dubbed content has its pitfalls. Accents and timings can impair comprehension, taking away from the overall viewer experience. 

A recent poll by Preply found that 74% of respondents prefer to use captions when watching content not in their native tongue. Respondents reported turning captions on to aid their overall understanding and content experience.

Creators can use captions on more indie-driven platforms, like TikTok and YouTube, to improve viewer understanding and accessibility. In this sense, captions are a low-budget way to create accessible content for audiences worldwide. 

In short, captioning podcast videos allows a larger, more diverse audience to understand and enjoy content. 

2. Caption Podcast Videos for Engaging Content

Adding captions to podcast videos is proven to make them more engaging. Captions increase watch time and help retain listeners, especially in younger audiences.

Captions affect not only the way listeners watch podcast videos but also how they interact with them. They transform passive viewing into a more active interaction. Captions also allow listeners to enjoy podcast videos even if the sound is off. 

Adding captions increases the number of stimuli in a video, naturally increasing the likelihood of maintaining viewer attention. A study by PLYMedia found that videos with captions receive 40% more views, and 80% more people are likelier to watch an entire video with captions. Adding captions to podcast videos automatically caters to different consumption styles and behaviors to create the most engaging content possible. 

Added benefits: Open captions 

For podcasters, captions also have the advantage of being an additional touchpoint and marketing opportunity. Open caption softwares provides podcasters with a way to make captions even more attractive to the eye. 

Podcasters can use color and font to reinforce branding. They can even style certain words to really make a message or name pop! In doing so, podcasters create more engaging content and boost memorability and brand recall!

Adding captions to podcast videos creates more engaging content listeners want to watch. 

3. Caption Podcast Videos for Positive User Experiences

Adding captions to podcast videos enhances the audience’s experience. Captions increase comprehension and encourage podcast video engagement.

Captions help listeners follow along with the audio. They provide essentially two ways for listeners to, well, listen. The dual presence of visual and audio learning helps improve comprehension and aids in retention. 

“Video captions, also known as same-language subtitles, benefit everyone who watches videos (children, adolescents, college students, and adults). More than 100 empirical studies document that captioning a video improves comprehension of, attention to, and memory for the video.” 

Dr. Morton A. Gerrnsbacher, National Library of Medicine.

Providing captions allows your audience to consume content in the best way possible. So, even if there is a screaming baby or barking dog, listeners can still understand what you’re saying. Captions reduce friction in the consumption process and allow everyone to enjoy and comprehend content, regardless of external barriers.

Captions enhance podcast comprehension and engagement among a more diverse set of listeners. 

More on the listener experience 

Are you a captions-on or off kind of person? More likely than not, you’re a captions-on person! 

A recent study found that over half of Americans prefer to watch video content with captions. Even more surprising is that younger generations prefer captions over older generations. In 2023, a survey by YouGov found that 63% of Gen Z’ers prefer turning captions on. Reasons varied, but several respondents cited captions improving their comprehension and making content more engaging.

“A large part of this is that younger viewers simply are used to seeing captions. They consume media through their phones and captions and subtitles are how they watch content when they can’t use the audio stream. Whereas captions used to be this extra service for some viewers, it’s now become an expected service for a lot of viewers.”

David Titmus, spokesperson for VITAC.

Caption preference is a testament to the value and impact of captions in enhancing the content viewing experience. 

How to create and add captions

Now that you’ve learned about the benefits of captions, you’ll probably want to know how to add captions to podcast videos! 

Automatic captioning and transcription services

Adding captions is really very easy. Many video-first platforms, such as YouTube, automatically create and add captions to videos. Even Apple is getting in the game by adding transcripts to all podcasts! 

However, take these automatic captioning and transcription services with a grain of salt. While they are great and easy, they are not accurate. For example, it is estimated that YouTube’s automatic captioning is only about 65% accurate

Additionally, these services often contain disfluencies such as improper capitalization, punctuation, and formatting. Disfluencies impact the transcript quality and subsequent video captioning. While your audience can usually understand the intended message, inaccurate captions can significantly affect audience comprehension – especially for non-native speakers- and overall content quality. 

Finally, automatic services fail to recognize changes in speakers. Failure to separate speakers can detract from the overall listener experience and comprehension. This is especially true for podcast videos without speakers on screen. 

Uploading your own transcript and captions gives you more control over the quality of your content. In doing so, you control for all those disfluencies and ensure your podcast puts forward its best foot every time. 

Creating your own captions and transcripts 

Podcasters can create their own transcripts and captions podcasts in three main ways. 

The first method is manual transcription. Manual transcription is excellent because it gives you the most control over your transcript/caption accuracy and formatting – not to mention that it’s free! Manual transcription is especially great for podcasters with more nuanced content – think fiction or fantasy tabletop role-playing games (RPG) shows. However, the major pitfall of manual podcast transcription is that it takes a lot of time. 

Other solutions exist for podcasters who want the same level of control but lack time: white glove transcription services and transcription software. 

White-glove transcription is still a manual mode of transcription; it just allows podcasters to outsource the actual process. With white-glove transcriptions, podcasters can still control for grammatical disfluencies and influence the formatting. However, white-glove transcription does come at a higher cost. On average, podcasters pay around $1 per audio minute. 

The third option for podcasters is to utilize transcription software. One of the most significant upsides to transcription software is it is comparatively cheaper and faster than other solutions. However, on the downside, transcription softwares is not 100% accurate. Most transcription and captioning softwares hover around 95% accuracy ratings, so it is best to read over and edit to best control for errors. 

More on transcription software 

Fortunately, there are ample options for podcasters to use transcription software. Software can be used to create accurate captions, too! 

Here are just a few we’re seeing podcasters use:

  • Eddy by Headliner
  • Cast magic
  • Podium
  • Podsqueeze
  • Descript
  • Swell AI
  • Otter.ai

While each has pros and cons, not every tool is for every podcaster. Before getting started, and especially for paying for a tool, we recommend poking around and learning about all the available features. You never know what you may find! 

Also, familiarize yourself with podcast tools you already use. Thanks to AI, more and more companies can provide transcription and captioning solutions with the tools you already pay for and love. 

How to caption podcast videos 

Adding captions to podcast videos differs by platform. Video platforms, like YouTube, allow you to add closed captions via podcast transcripts. However, other platforms, like Instagram, will require you to bake captions into the content prior to posting. 

Closed Captions 

You’ll need to transcribe your episode or podcast video clip for platforms that allow closed captions. Once you have your transcribed episode, you can make it usable by following these steps. 

First, you’ll need to edit and convert your transcript file. Create either SRT or VTT files. These formats are the most widely used, accepted file types, and acceptable formats for Podcasting 2.0.

The next step is to use and upload your transcript. SRT and VTT files can be uploaded to most host dashboards and YouTube. These files are accepted by podcasting platforms, like Apple, to generate viewable transcripts. If your host provider does not allow transcripts, you’ll want to manually add the URL of your transcript file to your transcript field in your RSS feed. Additionally, YouTube uses SRT and VTT files to create closed captions for podcast videos! 

The last step, you ask? Publish and share your podcast and podcast videos so all can enjoy! Listeners will be able to toggle captions on their terms. 

Open Captions

You’ll need to add captions to your podcast video for platforms without closed captions. Thankfully, adding open captions is easy! Many transcription services, like Headliner, allow you to create stylized captions for your podcast videos. 

Add captions to your podcast videos! 

Now, let’s revisit that original scenario. Imagine you’re listening to a podcast video, and suddenly, your headphones die. A baby screams an Avenger-sized fight occurs in the background, and aliens are loudly invading from space. Sure, You’re frustrated; I mean, ANOTHER alien is destroying the city? Well, at least the video you’re watching has captions, so now you can enjoy your podcast video! 

Adding captions to podcast videos is no joke, though. Including captions on podcast videos goes a long way toward creating high-quality, engaging content that helps grow shows. By adding captions, podcasters make accessible, engaging podcast videos that support a positive listening experience—regardless of external factors and alien invasions. 

If you want to learn more, let us know! Drop a comment or email a member of the Headliner Team. We’re “here” for you and happy to help!