No peer pressure, but producers and broadcasters alike are seeing the importance of Spanish captioning to reach a broader audience.
Why all the hype?
Think of the statistics in the U.S.: Spanish is the second most common language in the United States after English, and the Spanish-speaking community in the U.S. is growing each year. As of 2007, according to the United States Census Bureau, Spanish is the primary language spoken at home by over 34 million people. An unbelievable fact is that the United States, with 45 million Hispanics, is the world's second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the entire world! Mexico is the first, but the U.S. has more Spanish-speaking people than Spain, Argentina, and Colombia! Why would you want to miss out on such a huge market? No matter what the content of your programming is, I can assume one of your main goals is to reach as many viewers as possible, and with Spanish captioning, your viewership will automatically be on the rise.
English Programming with Spanish Captions
If you are broadcasting in English, you already must broadcast your content with English captions. So you are probably wondering how you can also broadcast with Spanish captions. English captions are usually decoded through CC1 and Spanish captions are typically decoded on CC2. On your TV menu, you can select CC1 or CC2. If the viewer is used to watching TV with Spanish captions, they probably always have CC2 selected. With this option, you are reaching the Spanish-speaking community in your broadcast area. If you are debating if captioning your English programming in Spanish is worth it, do an online search for the number of Spanish speakers there are in the area that you broadcast.
Spanish-language Programming with Spanish Captions
Broadcasting your Spanish-language programming with Spanish captions is now being mandated by the FCC: In the United States, all Spanish-language programming that was first shown after January 1, 1998, must be captioned by 2010. I know it may seem like another burden, but the good thing is, by captioning your Spanish-language programming, you will reach the Hispanic deaf and hard of hearing community, and once again, broadening your viewership. As you can imagine, the deaf and hard of hearing community is not limited to the English language--there is a considerable number of deaf and hard of hearing in the U.S. Hispanic community that want access to your programming.
Spanish Subtitles for DVD and Blu-ray
If you are putting out a DVD or Blu-ray Disc for distribution, you can reach your target audience with Spanish subtitles, as opposed to captions. Subtitles are burned on the video and can be turned on and off through the viewer's DVD menu, so they don't need to be decoded through a decoder chip in their TV. You should choose subtitles instead of captioning when authoring your disc because they look much nicer and are easier to read.