Do you find it difficult to keep up when watching television and reading captions? The wordiest television shows have been revealed! A 2022 study by WordFinderX assessed which shows are the most difficult to understand. They investigated the most aired shows and collected subtitle data from a variety of sources. They found that some of the most popular shows exceeded the recommended 140 words per minute!
Prevalence and Importance of Captioning Efficiency
Approximately 8 out of 10 of young adults, ages 18-25 years, use subtitles when they are watching television. According to a study by Stagetext, 1 in 10 of these young adults have hearing loss and use captions to aid their understanding. Therefore, about 70 percent of this age group have normal hearing and still prefer to utilize captions while watching television.
“Approximately 8 out of 10 of young adults, ages 18-25 years, use subtitles when they are watching television.”
In individuals aged 56 to 75 years of age, less than 25 percent of these individuals use captioning. Of those 25 percent, half identify as being hard of hearing or deaf.
There are several theories of why this may be the case. Some believe that it may be simply more accepted by the younger populations to use subtitles. Another reason may be that younger populations are used to reading the subtitles quickly.
The National Disability Authority (NDA) helps write out guidelines for subtitles. Their guidelines explain how to present captions for clear presentation. In addition, they have recommendations for the position of the subtitles, and the maximum of words per minute. To allow for the best subtitle experience, NDA promotes using no more than 140 words per minute in the English language.
Study Findings: Wordiest Television Shows
The findings from WordFinderX for the most wordy television shows are as follows.
1st place for the Worst Readability Award at 176.2 words per minute: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
2nd place for the Worst Readability Award at 174.6 words per minute: Brooklyn Nine-Nine
3rd place for the Worst Readability Award at 167.8 words per minute is: Gilmore Girls
4th place for the Worst Readability Award at 166.8 words per minute is: Modern Family
This study accounted for 20 of the most wordy shows. Almost five percent of those shows were comedies. With so many words spoken per minute, it can be hard to follow what is being said. In addition, having enough time to understand the joke can make it even more challenging.
An encouraging note is that not one fantasy, super-hero, or science-fiction category made it into the Top 20 Wordiest TV Shows. Therefore, these shows are more likely to be easier to comprehend for those utilizing subtitles.
What Can Be Done?
Of course, many of these shows are already finished being produced and will continue to be aired. However, for future shows, writers may be encouraged to selectively choose only the words that need to be added. Will there be a day when subtitles aren’t too wordy for those who rely on them to understand the details of the story line? Time will tell.
Abigail Russell is a second-year medical school student at Indiana University School of Medicine. She is a bilateral hearing technology user, utilizing both a Phonak Naída and Cochlear Implant. Ever since she was diagnosed as a little girl, she has been an advocate for those with hearing loss. She loves spending time with people, enjoys coffee, and cuddles with her puppy, Rosie!
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