Load up Netflix on your TV screen today, and you should see the changes applied: In the subtitles section, you can now choose from several different colors and sizes to suit your preferences and the display you’re watching on.
update (via technology crisis (opens in a new tab)) gives you the choice of small, medium and large text and four different styles: white with no background, white with black background, yellow with black background and black with white background.
To access these options, select the gear icon to the right of the current subtitle settings that appears when playback is paused. This is an improvement over the previous situation where the subtitles were displayed in only one size and in white with no background.
These options aren’t live in every country where Netflix is available — if you haven’t seen them yet, that’s probably why — but from what we can tell, the rollout appears to have been fairly widespread, and swift.
Users previously could customize subtitles through the web and mobile interface, but those options didn’t work with Netflix streaming through the TV app. There are still more customization options on web and mobile, including a choice of different fonts.
Statistics cited by TechCrunch suggest that around three-quarters of all streaming takes place on a big screen rather than a phone or laptop, so these extra subtitle options are sure to be welcome (and may even help Netflix grow its subscribers quantity).
Analysis: A big step forward
Considering how well-established the options are if you access Netflix settings via the web or mobile app, it seems odd that it took Netflix so long to add subtitle customization to its TV interface.
Subtitles are an absolute must for the hearing impaired. Of course, they are also very helpful when watching foreign language movies and shows, and when everyone else in the house is in bed and you need to turn the volume down.
We’d like to see the same subtitle options for TV as they do for Netflix on the web — especially a wider selection of background colors and font styles. There’s no denying that simplicity is often best when you’re using a remote to operate everything.
It may be overdue, but it’s still a big step forward for Netflix. It’s clearly a win-win: Accessibility initiatives like this one and those announced last year make the service more appealing to a wider range of people.