BINGE is Australia’s hottest new streaming service and boasts a catalogue filled with the best TV shows and movies.
With more than 10,000 hours of binge-worthy and “unturnoffable” entertainment, if you’re still asking yourself if it’s worth signing up to another service, it is.
Launched at the end of May 2020 — while Australians were told to stay indoors due to the global coronavirus pandemic — BINGE has gone from strength-to-strength adding new content that is engaging audiences around the country.
Being a relatively new streaming service, it still has some features in the works, one of which is accessibility to audiences who are hearing impaired.
At the moment, the service does not offer closed captioning for its titles, however, BINGE executive director, Alison Hurbert-Burns has exclusively told TheLatch— that the service is “on track to launch closed captions by the end of September”.
“They will also be available across all platforms including [but not limited to] Apple TV, Telstra TV, web and mobile services,” she said.
“We were really disappointed we couldn’t launch with closed captions as we understand how necessary they are for some customers to be able to use BINGE and also a helpful product feature that many other customers prefer to use,” Hurbert-Burns said during the interview.
“It was our plan to launch with closed captions but we launched BINGE in the middle of COVID and the teams who built, tested and created BINGE are based in Australia and had to be moved from the office to working from home. Unfortunately closed captions being delayed was one outcome of this disruption.”
35-year-old Joana Inch was taken to an audiologist at the age of eight when her parents noticed she wasn’t hearing properly. According to the audiologists, Inch had had significant hearing loss since birth.
For the digital marketing agency founder, closed captioning is an important part of how she consumes television and has even caused her to turn off certain services when they are not available.
“Unless I can use my specific headphones to hear it without captions on my phone, I cannot actually hear most of the words and hence I lose interest and turn it off,” Inch said in an interview with TheLatch—.
“I’m sure there’s a large community of us, old and young and it’s important to cater to us so that we can be included in audiences as a whole.”
“People with hearing impairment generally feel quite disconnected in social situations where they can’t hear what is going on whereas everyone else can and hence, they can end up being left out of the conversation. This causes loneliness and depression so it’s important to cater to us.”
According to Inch, Australia has a long way to go with catering to those with a hearing impairment, particularly when it comes to free-to-air television.
“Free-to-air TV is still pretty slow and inaccurate. It’s very hard to watch and hence I stick to platforms such as Netflix or YouTube where captions are much easier to read,” she said.
Hurbert-Burns also explained that adding closed captions to services is quite a lengthy process as files are created individually for each piece of content.
“As BINGE doesn’t carry advertising, many of the existing closed caption files used by other TV channels, or services, for example, don’t align as they include advertising breaks, so we need to create closed caption files that align. This is one of the reasons it can be a lengthy process,” she explained.
“We then check the closed caption files manually to ensure they are timed to match and sync with the video. We have been busy applying closed captions to our content and we wanted to have as many hours with captions as possible. When we launch them later this month, approximately 85% of content will have captions and we have prioritised movies and scripted TV series that are amongst the most popular on the service.”
For BINGE and the executive team, having Australians enjoy the service and have the best possible user experience is not only a passion but a priority.
“In the 12 weeks since launch, we have been very busy behind the scenes making hundreds of iterations to BINGE to improve the platform and closed captions are the first visible feature that customers will see added,” Hurbert-Burns said.
“In the coming months, BINGE will become available on more Smart TVs and connected devices including Samsung TVs and Sony PlayStations as we aim to expand accessibility for more Australians.”