ACCESS LA: Yahoo’s Award-Winning Captioning Initiatives

ACCESS LA: Yahoo’s Award-Winning Captioning Initiatives


MIKE SHEBANEK: My
name is Mike Shebanek. And as Josh mentioned, I lead
the accessibility team at Oath. Oath is a brand new company. It’s been around for
about 2 and 1/2 months. It’s a combination of
the properties that AOL knows and loves and
all the property that Yahoo has and loves. So you’ll still see Yahoo
finance, news, sports, weather. You’ll still see AOL.com, AOL
Mail, most of their properties. But they’re now joined
under one company, and my team supports
them for accessibility. And that includes everything
from mobile app accessibility, web accessibility, and of
course, video captioning or media accessibility. So I wanted to
start with a story. And the story begins with all
of our– probably– favorite TV show from the ’70s. Over 39 seasons of this show. A few years ago, when I
came to Yahoo at the time, we had just acquired the
rights, exclusive rights, to stream this on the internet. Pretty cool. But how many years did
I say it was on TV? AUDIENCE: 39. MIKE SHEBANEK: 39. And when did captioning start? Not 39 years ago. Way later. So we ended up inheriting a
huge amount of these videos that didn’t have captions. Now, later in the seasons,
that started happening. So the problem for
us was, well, how are we going to go get
these captions made? So we literally
copied these files on a hard drive, carried
them across to a vendor– which wasn’t 3Play at
the time, which is where I’m heading with this story– and had them do
those captions for us so we could put it
on the internet. What we also learned at the time
was our players weren’t ready. For those of you who
aren’t into captioning yet, there is a huge number of
different caption file formats. And there’s a bunch
of settings you need to have in your video
player to turn it on and off and change the font size
and all those great things. And we had so many different
versions of video players that sometimes that worked
and sometimes it didn’t. And so we got ourselves
into this really interesting situation where we really
wanted to provide this service, people really wanted to get this
from us, we just weren’t ready. So I told that story because
I don’t know where you are. I don’t know if you’re doing
amazing amounts of captioning. I don’t know if you’ve never
done captioning in your life. But our story started with zero. And we’ve now moved
to a place where we’re doing an incredible
amount of captioning. And that’s a story I
want to tell today. So later, as we
started captioning, we got one of the
scenes– this is from one of the more recent ones. And this is a skit with The Rock
and someone playing Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli
prime minister. But if you’re reading that
text on the screen there, you notice it doesn’t
say Netanyahu. It says– yes. It says Netan Yahoo. Because the vendor
thought, oh, it’s Yahoo. So that must be what
they meant, right? No. That’s not what we meant. So that was our introduction
to quality matters a lot. And we saw that. And we started
seeing more of that. And we realized even the way we
went out to get captions done– we didn’t know enough yet. So we brought on somebody who is
an absolute expert, a guy named Larry Goldberg, and
got us a good education and introduced us to 3Play. And we don’t see
that problem anymore. In fact, our video
player’s in a better place. A whole lot of really
good things happened. But don’t be afraid of mistakes. We’re going to make them. So if you’re not doing
captioning yet, just do it. Get better. But always watch
what’s happening. Put yourself in that place
of the user to find out, are those captions
actually very good? So we’re here to talk
about accessible media. And as Josh mentioned, when
we think of accessible media, we really do think of closed
captioning, primarily. As he also demonstrated,
there’s a thing called audio description
or video description, depending on which
phrase you prefer. And there’s a brand new
thing that’s coming along, which is talking menus. So there’s now laws in
place that require– if you’re doing something
like an over-the-top box, like a set-top box or TV– that you make those
menu systems talk for people with vision loss. So accessibility,
from our perspective, encompasses a whole
range of disability, not just one in particular. And it turns out people
with disabilities tend to have combinations. So it’s really important
that we make things keyboard accessible, that we make
things speak, that we provide closed captions. And it really has to
be a holistic approach. You never know what your
user’s going to need. But we know those users are
going to want what you have. So make them welcome. Interestingly
enough, The Simpsons have had captions from
the very beginning, even though it wasn’t
necessarily required. And they’ve done
audio description almost their entire season
or their entire series. So that’s been an
incredible– anybody know how many years The
Simpsons have been on? AUDIENCE: I do! 29. MIKE SHEBANEK: There
you go, 29, right? How do you know that exactly? It’s been on forever. Yeah, so you’re
our Simpsons guy. There you go. One of the fun things
about audio description, though, is for people
who are even seeing it, even if they’re not
just listening only. It’s amazing what you
pick up in the description that you just sort of miss
when you’re watching it. So Homer Simpson running
by with his hair on fire with a chair over his head,
some of those kinds of things. Angry dad, that kind of stuff. So that’s another type
of video accessibility you want to be thinking about. So I have another
question for you. You’re our Trivial
Pursuit champion. So maybe you’ll
know this one, too. Does anybody know where
closed captioning started? Like, how did we even get here? Because it didn’t
used to happen, right? We were talking about
Saturday Night Live. It didn’t happen before. It started in the ’70s. It started at a place called
WGBH Boston Public Broadcasting Service. And it started with a really,
really famous television show. And as soon as I say it,
you’ll go, oh, of course. It’s a cooking show. Yes. It was Julia Child’s. And they approached
her and said, we want to try this thing, and
no one’s ever done it before. But would you mind if we
put text on the screen? And so this is called
the open captions, which means it’s literally
burned right into the video. Everybody sees it, which
is a huge step forward. She was a really big fan. And that’s what sort
of got things going and proved this is
actually something that everyone can appreciate
and enjoy, which is terrific. And especially, if
you– anybody know how Julia Child’s voice– (HIGH
PITCHED) she talks like this. I’m terrible at this,
but it’s really hard to hear sometimes.
(HIGH PITCHED) Is it one cup or three cups? I don’t know,
something like that. So having that text turned out
to be actually a really great thing. And of course, then the
question was, how long would it take for captions to show up? And so super fast, immediate
delivery was five hours. And for things like the news or
finance information or weather information, five hours can
mean a really big difference in having something
that’s useful and something that’s not. So we’ve come a very long way. Eventually, users got to choose
if they wanted captions or not. And that’s closed captioning. So that’s that black box, which
allows the user to decide– do I want to see these, or
do I not want to see these? And they can turn
them on and off. And you know you’ve reached
the pinnacle of civilization. I think we’ve done
everything we need to do. Because now on the privacy
of your own mobile phone, you can watch Will
Ferrell acting as Alex Trebek with
closed captions, anywhere and anywhere. So that’s also very, very cool. So how did we get
from here to there? And how did Yahoo get
from here to there? Well, as I mentioned,
we had a long way to go. And we had to start
with the first step. So as we moved
forward, we realized we need a better way to
sort of figure out how this is appearing to our users. So we created these things
called accessibility labs. This lab is based in
Sunnyvale, California, heart of Silicon Valley. It’s at the former Yahoo
headquarters, now Oath. And the design of this
lab is very unique. We’ve had many
companies come through. We’ve had over 1,300 people
come through in just six months. We’ve had everyone from CEOs
from Taiwan to Will.i.am to Macy’s. Everybody has come
through this place, because it’s so
unique and unusual. The idea is really simple. When we ask students who
graduate with a four-year degree– and I’ll ask you guys. This is a good question. How many of you in your
undergraduate degree heard the word accessibility? That’s excellent. That’s four hands. That’s more than we usually get. So then who’s doing
all this work? Exactly. So I hand it all to him,
and I think we’ve got it. This is the fundamental problem
is we have really smart, really talented people coming
into the field in all these different companies
who’ve never even heard the word in their
undergraduate work. And they land in the
job, like, I didn’t know. What was I supposed to know? No one told me. I have no idea how
this stuff works. And so it becomes this
incredible teaching task for all these
companies to explain. There are some obligations. There’s some culture
here that says, this is the right thing to do. There are some techniques
that we have to have. There is some process
that we have in place. And it’s a huge
amount of effort. So this lab is intended to
give students or new hires– even if they’re coming
from another company– first-hand experience
with assistive technology. Most of the people
that come to this lab– whether they’ve worked in
the industry for 30 years or for two days– have never experienced a screen
reader, something for the blind to speak what’s on the
screen of their computer or their mobile phone. They’ve never
experienced, perhaps, turning on closed captions. They might have
seen them running, but they’ve never figured out,
where do you turn those on? How do you adjust the
text size or the color? We focus not on the difficulty. We focus on success, which
is also really unique. So our job there is to
show this can all be done. And people do it all the
time, every single day. You just might not
bump into them. But they’re out there, and
this is how they do it. So our job as Oath,
and hopefully your job, too, is to enable the things
that people can do and expect. And so that’s really what
this lab is all about. There’s one of our guys, Gary. And you can see the
lab’s pretty full. That’s actually a slow day,
but that’s what it feels like. We bring in a design
team, an engineering team, bring in guest visitors. And we sometimes will put their
product up on that big screen and just walk through
with a keyboard only. Just don’t touch the
mouse or trackpad. Can you navigate? Can you click buttons? Can you click links? Surprising how many
times that fails. If we resize, does it magnify? Does it break? Or is it a nice,
responsive web design? If it’s video, does it
have captions on it? If it has captions, but
they’re not showing up, how do you turn them on? Is it obvious? So we go through all those
things with those teams. And we’ve had a really
great experience with teams coming
back saying, wow, I had no idea all this
stuff was out there and that it all worked. So then they get to
that right question, which is, what do I have to do? And that’s when we
start that conversation about the technical parts
of making this stuff happen. From a media
perspective, we realized we needed actually another
location, because there was too much going on in the first one. So this is based in
our Boston office, and it’s called the
Accessible Media Lab. And so the focus of
this particular place is to funnel all of the
different video that’s on all of these
different websites– whether it’s TechCrunch or
Engadget or Huffington Post, AOL.com, yahoo.com, you name it. Anything that’s
got video is going to come through this place. And we’re going to
have someone there that can actually watch and try
it on every possible platform or software browser app, TV
box, set-top box, whatever it happens to be. So we have in that space Windows
PCs, Macs, iPads, iPhones, Android devices. We have all the OTT boxes. So we have Rokus and Apple TVs. We have an Xbox in there. And yes, we play games,
but not too much. We have TiVos and TVs
and all kinds of things. And we’re sort of
looking at what’s going on outside our
company, but also making sure that the things that we’re doing
are right and that are working. And it’s been a really
huge help for us. One of the things that’s easy
to forget is that video player. So I have a picture of
the web video player here, just as an example. But it’s so easy to get focused
on the content, which is right, you should. But as I was telling
you in my story, we forgot about
the video player. Not for very long, because
it was pretty obvious. But we happen to
have a bunch of them. So because we have so
many different companies, and they might have
started in our company or have been acquired, they
had different investments. So they had different
video players. There wasn’t just one. And when you go
to mobile, there’s one that’s built into iOS. You bring your own for Android. And on the other boxes,
you get whatever you get. So you have to make
some decisions about, which one do we do first? And which one has the best set? Is it going to be universal? Are we going to have
different experiences on different platforms? Those are the couple
of things that we needed to figure out and
decide for ourselves. In this particular case, we made
this video player ourselves. Which was great, because
we had control over it. But it turns out we
had several of them. So we had an effort where we
tried to combine them into one and have fewer of them, but also
make sure that they supported the different
caption file formats and all the different
settings and things. So in that lower right corner– I’m going to blow
that up a little bit so you can see it a bit better. It’s actually
really well defined what those settings need to be. So you don’t have to guess. Those are written in stone. They’re in legislation. And that the number
and types of things you need to provide in a video
player are all well understood. You can get video players that
have this already built in. And so you don’t have
to do any of this work. But if you own your
own video player, if you’re making
your own, you want to make sure that you include
all those different features. So besides the obvious, which
is, am I turned on or off? There’s language selection. There is type size–
small or large. That lower left button
says Style Options. When I click that,
you get four new tabs. And those tabs are
also well defined, which is, which colors
for the foreground text? Which colors for the background? Is it opaque or transparent? There’s a whole
slew of those things that you’re going to
want to provide there. But I’m going to go back for
a second, because there’s one in the middle row on
the left that’s unique. And this is kind of our add-on. So no one asked us to do this. But we thought, you know what? We’ve been watching
as ourselves. And what we realized was
if you watch something like CNN, what happens on
the bottom of the screen? You get the ticker, right? And it’s like, oh,
that’s the hot news. That’s the latest thing. I’ve got to see that. Where do the captions show up? Right on top. So now if you don’t use
captions, it’s all fine. But if you turn on captions,
it’s not a great experience. So we added a feature
that allows the user to position those
captions at the top. So I go back one step
more, you’ll actually notice the captions are running
across the top in green, not in the bottom lower third. And that allows
people who prefer those to be able to move them
up where it’s easier to see and not conflict with the
production of the video. So we’re not affecting
the creativity of the video producers. We’re allowing the
technology to adapt and make it really interesting and useful
for people who want to use it. It turns out not every
caption format supports that. We learned that the hard way. So we had to make some hard
decisions about which video caption format we were going
to support, or which set, and which players were going
to enable things like that. So those are some things you
just want to keep in mind. For those that aren’t caption
users, if there are any of you out there, one of the
more interesting things we noticed when we put this
in front of users was they couldn’t always find
the on and off switch. Because that little CC white
box in the lower right corner isn’t always in the same place
on every service or website they go to. It is on ours. We hope. That’s our goal. But they would try and
find it and go, oh. And I had this happen yesterday. We had someone in our lab, and I
said, this is our test station. And it’s part of our interactive
demos that we give people. And the intention is for them
to struggle a little bit. So we said, just go to this
site and turn on the captions. And immediately, this gal
looks over at me and she goes, I don’t think I
know how to do this. I must be doing something wrong. And I started laughing. I said, no. Where did you think
they were going to be? She goes, right here in
the lower right corner. I said, exactly. How come they’re not there? And that’s the lesson. Because then she went to
our site and she goes, oh, they’re right where
they’re supposed to be. I guess I didn’t know what
it was supposed to be. But her first assumption
was– that must be me. That’s on the providers. That’s on the web
video player company. That’s on us. So it’s really important for
us to have that consistency and be where the user
expects us to be. When she turned them on,
she happened to hit– in one of the sites– she turned it on correctly. And she goes, it’s not working. I must have done
something wrong again. And we said, why
do you think that? Because there’s no
captions showing up. Well, are the
captions turned on? I think so. What was the problem? AUDIENCE: There
were no captions. MIKE SHEBANEK: There
were no captions for that particular video. So she did everything right. No result. So that’s,
again, one of those things we really want to be consistent
and ubiquitous about where these captions
live so that users get that immediate
happy feedback when they do the right things. So those are some of the
things we learn as we go through that user study lab. In the case of iOS,
as I mentioned, the caption settings and the
video player are provided. So we can just leverage all of
the settings and features that are built into that platform. You don’t have to
worry about that. So if you choose that for
your video player on mobile, or you get a video
player for web that has these things built in,
you’re already halfway home. And you’ll notice,
by the way, all of the different
required settings. And they will be very consistent
across companies and products that implement the settings. So you can note those
down later if you want to. So I always get asked, OK, so
you started with Saturday Night Live, right? That’s 29 years of
25 episodes a year– I don’t know– an
hour an episode or 50 minutes or something. That’s a lot of video. How far have we gotten
since just a few years ago? Well, we’ve made a really
big effort, as you can see. We’ve built up a lab. We’ve built our video players. We’ve got people on board
now that can help us. And we’ve got a great
vendor in 3Play. So we are super proud to say
that in a recent quarter, just 90 days, we have captioned
over 40,000 videos. So if you’re at university
and you’re like, I’ve got too much stuff. I don’t know. Do you have more than 40,000? You might, but just
to let you know that this is just one company
that 3Play works with, right? And we couldn’t be more
happy with the relationship. And we asked them– and, Josh, you’ll vouch for me. We called you and said, Josh,
we have a lot of video coming. Can you do this? And he kind of was
like, I think so. What’s your number? And we started to talk
about some of these numbers. Just give me a little time to
get ready and we can do it. And they have. So planning a little
ahead and letting your vendor know
that this is what it’s going to look like
going forward really helps us scale and scale well. So we didn’t have any
fall-outs or drop-offs. But that equals 120,000
video on demand minutes. That is a huge, huge
amount of captioning. So we’ve come a very long way. And we hope our users who use
this product not only enjoy it but come to expect it. And we want them to expect it. We also do live streams. It uses a different technology
when you’re actually doing a live event and
there’s not that time to type and correct or do speech
recognition, things like that. But we have over 200 hours
of that in the mix as well. This is, though, the
slide I love the most, and I hope you
appreciate this slide. I think you will. So there is a law on the
books in the US called CVAA. It’s the 21st Century
Communications and Video Accessibility Act. I could say it
slower, but it’s hard. It’s a really long name. But it basically applies
to the producers of video or distributors of video
and communications products, like mail and text
messaging, things like that. But in the video space, one
of the things it talks about is if something is broadcast
on terrestrial television with captions, and you
bring it to the internet– for the most part unedited– those captions need
to be there, too. Now, what’s not said there
is the technical format for captioning on television is
really different than the one you use on the internet. So you need to do
some translation, or you need to
re-caption or something. But it’s not like you just
pick it up and use it. You have to do a
little bit of work. In our case, we looked through
everything we were doing and said, you know what? I actually don’t even know
how much of this is required. Because we’re doing so much,
it seems like we’re probably past the line. So when we looked into this
number, we’re thinking, OK, it might be 30%, 40%. I don’t know. And one of my guys
came back and said, do you realize that only
1% of what we’re doing is actually required? I was like, hallelujah. That’s how it should be, right? We’re not a compliance team. We’re way past compliance. We’re about usability and
making really great stuff that people love. And when your focus
is there, whether it’s in education and academic
training, whatever it happens to be, if it’s
a business, shoot high. And you won’t have to worry
about, are we compliant? Did we do the right thing? And do we have enough
captioned content? That should be automatic, right? We didn’t start with, what’s
the least we could do? And as I heard from a friend
of mine when I was trying to explain this field to him–
he’s not in this industry– he said, so let
me get this right. If you did any less,
you’d be illegal? That doesn’t sound right. I said, yeah, yeah, no. We want to be way, way up here. So I want to encourage you to
really think high and aim high. And it can be done. If you’re like me, your next
question in your head right now is probably,
how in the world did he get anybody
to agree to that? How did he get the
budget for that? How did he convince
the company to do that? It’s a good question. Anybody have that question? Good, OK. We’ll have to come back
to that for a second. So how did we get
to that number? Well, we produce our own
content in a lot of places. So you can imagine,
Yahoo news and sports and finance and entertainment,
lifestyle, view, and all these things. So the first thing for
us was, if we make it, let’s make sure it’s captioned. Because we have all
the control over it. We have the timing of it. We own the content, the
material, the schedule, everything. So let’s just make sure we’re
doing that and doing that really, really well. So if it’s made by Yahoo– and by the way, if I
haven’t made this clear, you’re going to still see Yahoo
even though our company is called Oath. Yahoo lives on. So your Yahoo mail
accounts are safe, and yahoo.com is still
going to be there. So you’ll still see
those names and brands. But we also– imagine– work
with a huge number of partners. And these are name
brand folks, right? New York Times, Buzzfeed,
Reuters, NFL, Vogue, Epicurious, the real guys. And they give us tons
and tons of video. But we don’t control that video. So we’ve had to work
with them and establish a partnership that says, do you
have captions for that video? And if not, please do. We encourage them to
do the right thing if they’re not already. But then also make sure
that if they have them, that they provide them to us. And some sites are
like, yeah, we have them but just nobody asked. Nobody asked? So we ask. And then we can get
those captions in. Then we have to go
through the process of, are they in the proper format? Or are they the same– are they Netan Yahoo or are
they good quality captions? We’ve got to make some decisions
about whether we’ll pass those through or fix those. So we have a couple of
decisions to make along the way. There’s also a category up
here that’s not included, but I think it’s
kind of interesting. Anybody like movie trailers? People wait in
line at home, like, when’s that trailer
coming out for Star Wars? People love trailers. Did anybody know that
trailers are not captioned? They’re just not. What year is it? How did that even happen? You can go to a theater and
get captions if you ask. They have technology to do that. But you can’t see the movie
trailer before you go. So when we asked our users,
what’s the most thing you want? Like, what could we do better? Guess what they said? Movie trailers. I think we all kind of
sat around the table and went, how did that happen? So we’re looking around like, of
course we have movie trailers. So now we are the
only place in the US where you can get captions
on movie trailers. So you can check out that movie
before you go to the theater. And we’re proud of that. So there’s a lot of things
to notice about that. Are the captions complete? Did they show up on time? Were the spellings correct? Especially with things
like last names. I remember we had one of
the football games come in, and you’re going
to love this one– Tuiasosopo. We were like there’s no
way that captioner is going to get that name right. They did. So we were like– so good
job on you guys, 3Play. That was really awesome. And there were a bunch of
those in that particular game, so it was kind of fun. But that quality really
does matter to us. And so I put this
on the screen just to give you a sense of
how we look at captions. And hopefully this will
inspire you to not just say, do we have them? Because it’s really,
do we have them well? And so our goals
are always to get the fastest possible delivery. So if we can get them
immediately, we do. And there’s this
really cool technology you can talk to 3Play guys about
called progressive delivery, where they can give the captains
to us really, really fast. It’s the first pass. And when it’s super timely
important, we’ll take it. And then they can progressively
deliver the more well-tuned, well-edited version. And we’re very specific
about which ones we’ll do that with depending on
the importance and the timing of that particular video. But in most cases, the
delivery we’ve received has always been on time or
early in our experience. So we’re super happy with that. Accurate, well-synced,
and complete. This is part of my education. When I started understanding
about captions, accuracy seemed sort of obvious. It’s either spelled right, or
it’s spelled wrong on Yahoo. But the well-synced part,
I had to experience. If it’s delayed two
or three seconds– which doesn’t seem like a lot– it’s a lot. And if you’re watching a scene
and you happen to be listening, and you’re seeing the text
and it’s the wrong text, it’s really weird. And you can only imagine
what that would be like if you’re trying to follow
this and actually understand what’s happening in real time. So that turned out to be
a really important thing. It’s more typical
on television– and maybe not so much
lately– but complete. So sometimes captions
would start late, and you’d miss
the opening scene. Sometimes they’d cut off
early to go to commercial or switch over to the
nightly news broadcast, and you’d miss the grand
finish of your favorite drama. And so making sure those things
start on time, end on time, and are timed
correctly in between, it turns out to be a really,
really important thing. We already talked about
being on every platform users want to see it on. If they’re at home or in the
office watching something, and they go on the road
and grab their phone– of course, if I was
watching with captions here, it should be here. But if you’re providing it,
that’s a different whole thing. Different video
player, different OS, different stream, perhaps. There’s a whole bunch of
things that go on behind there. But to the user, it’s like, I
just want to watch the video. So let me watch where I am. So that’s really
important for us as well. Of course we want
to be compliant. And I mentioned those
settings that are required. So we want to make sure
we have all of those. And of course, as
you saw, the 1%. We want to make sure and
do what’s expected of us, but our goals are really,
really much higher than that. And that last piece
is affordability. We have to be able to
do it in a way that sustains what we’re doing here. And so, of course, as the volume
goes up, the price goes down. And when we started
at a small amount, it was a little more expensive. But we were investing less. So there is a point at which
you kind of cross that barrier, and it becomes really,
really affordable. But in terms of
where we’ve been– I don’t remember what the
exact price was 20 years ago. But it was what, $80
a minute or something? It was huge. I’m looking at Lily and Josh. It was like $80 back in the
old, old, old, old days. Now it’s really,
really affordable. So don’t let that stop
you if that’s a concern. Captions are for everyone. So this is really kind of
what I wanted to lead you to. We care about people
with hearing loss. And we want to make
sure those captions are available to those people. But we care about everybody. And what we learned was
everybody can take advantage and enjoys captions. Now, the common example is,
you’re in the gymnasium, and you can’t listen to
TV because there’s 30 TVs. So you either plug
in headphones– or if you forgot or are like
me and tear them out when you’re on the treadmill– you turn on captions, right? So even if you don’t
have hearing loss, this is a really big advantage. If you’re in the airport,
captions are everywhere. So captions turn out to
be really, really useful for a lot of people. It also turns out, in
our particular business, video with text on the
screen is really sticky. That’s kind of an
insider term for– people tend to
stop and watch it. Now, for us, we’re
advertising based. So it’s really important
for advertisers to know that people are
stopping and reading the page and seeing the ad. So that’s a really,
really big deal. Just by adding
captions, we can get people to pay more
attention, if you will. And it’s much easier
for people when they’re in an environment where
they can’t turn on the audio or they don’t have headphones– airports, stuff like that. Don’t quote me on this number,
but my understanding is about 85% of views have
audio muted on the internet. Does that sound about right? You can neither
confirm nor deny? So I’ll wave my
hands a little bit. But it’s a really high number. When you go to a website now
and you start flipping through, as Josh’s demo
showed, video’s just going on in the
background, but it’s muted. And with those
captions, you tend to go, oh, that’s what
that’s talking about. I’m going to stop and watch. If you don’t have those, it
just goes by like a picture. And you just– your
users, your students, whoever it happens to be are
just missing that moment. And that’s a really
important moment. You put a lot of time and effort
to get that on that screen. The other one that
was really interesting is we have a bunch of editors
who are doing the articles and attaching video
and photos to it. It was amazing how much time
they were spending typing, because they need
the text of the video really badly to do pull
quotes, to do searches later, to reference things, to find
an article that’s related. So getting those captions– when
they found out we had captions, they were like, oh, my God. This is great. We just saved a zillion hours. That was a huge return on
that financial investment. That was a really
big deal for us. It also, for us, opens up
a bunch of new markets. If we can do translation,
from the English to German or Spanish or French
or whatever it is, suddenly our entire video library becomes
way more available in way more places with not a lot
of production cost. We don’t have to re-shoot,
which is really, really cool. And then the last one for us
that’s also really exciting is, as I mentioned, for editors. But this is true for anyone. How cool is it to be
able to go in and find which video has which phrase? So if I’m searching during
the political debates, or I’m searching
through who knows what major event, suddenly
now not only can I figure out what video it is, but
this is the interesting part– we have time codes
with that text. So we can figure out
where in that video that phrase was spoken. And that’s really rare
and really unusual. And that’s opening up
some really interesting opportunities for us, which
maybe I’ll share in the future. I’ll leave that one for you. So all of this work has
taken us from a few things with Saturday Night Live to
something pretty extraordinary. And so I’m thrilled to be
able to share it with you. And I appreciate
having the opportunity. We were really amazed and
happy that the Hearing Loss Association of America in
2016 recognized all this work. Because sometimes you
do it– and you do it for the right reasons, you’re
not looking for awards– but it was really
nice to be recognized. So I wanted to
share that with you. They looked through that
whole process and went, wow, what’s going on over there? This is really, really cool
and really meets the needs of our particular community. So that was really, really nice. So let me end on this. As I mentioned, we’re
now called Oath. And you can imagine that
means we have oaths. And our oath for our
team and our company is commit to inclusion. And we hope that it’s
your commitment, too. Thanks. LILY BOND: Does anyone
have questions for Mike? Yeah, go ahead. AUDIENCE: Do you have metadata
tied to these, your videos? MIKE SHEBANEK: Yeah,
the short answer is yes. We have lots of
metadata tied to these. AUDIENCE: I guess to
expand on that question. Because you built
your own player, do you have information as far
as when people turn captions on, when they turn them
off, how many views or what percentage of people? And does that help
you sell it back to the company–
this is important, we should make it
look better, and it’s not just for the hard of
hearing, and so forth? MIKE SHEBANEK: Yeah,
great question. So we do have it
on the web player, because it’s the one we
built and that we own. But we don’t have it
for the iOS player. We don’t have it for
the Android player. We don’t have it
on the Roku box. So the numbers don’t fully
represent the number of people actually using captions. But on that one segment, we
can get at least a snapshot. So we don’t lean
too heavily on it. We’re going to do this
regardless, because it’s the right thing to do. And as you saw that
list of returns. It’s huge. It way outweighs
the cost that we spend in terms of making
those captions available. So from the editorial
side, from being able to present these
things to more people, more places, the
stickiness on the web, those are huge factors that are
hard to actually put numbers to. But I think whenever
we talk to our execs, they’re like, oh, yeah. That’s exactly what
we’re looking for. So it’s been really
successful for us. AUDIENCE: Where can
I watch Oath videos? Where’s the best place? Where should I go? MIKE SHEBANEK: You can go to
AOL.com or yahoo.com or Yahoo Finance or Yahoo News,
depending on what subject you’re interested in. Yahoo Sports. All of those will have
tons and tons of videos. There’s a trailer site. There’s a bunch of links
off yahoo.com’s home page you can get to as well. Trailers, I think, are
linked off that home page. AUDIENCE: So what is
your commitment to text? To text transcripts? MIKE SHEBANEK: We’re
focused primarily on– oh, let me make sure we
got the whole question. Did I get the whole question? OK, the question was
around text transcripts. So we’re focused on primarily
providing closed captions, open captions when
it makes sense, if we think
everybody should have that text version on screen. But in cases where we’re
not able to provide that, we also can provide
the transcripts. And for some uses
and some people, it’s actually much
more convenient to be able to read
through the text. They can watch the
video separately– or not watch the video
at all– and still get the content and meaning
of that particular video. So we’ll do both on occasion. But most of the
time, we’re going to be providing those
closed captions. AUDIENCE: Many of
the captions now have additional captions so that
we could see who is speaking and what captions. Does it also have emotion or
emphasis on those captions so we could see who is
sad or angry or loud? MIKE SHEBANEK:
Yeah, good question. So it turns out that the
producer of the video has the ability to encode in
the caption file who’s speaking and place the text on
that side of the screen. And maybe the other text for the
other person on the other side. There’s also, for
good captions, you’ll get additional information
that’s not spoken. So you’ll hear– you’ll
see music symbols for music playing in the
background or audience or noise or things like that. So there’ll be some different
annotation inside that caption text. AUDIENCE: This is going
back to text transcripts. So does this mean you haven’t
thought about the usability for deaf/blind individuals? That’s something– just being
able to read the captions isn’t– you know, it’s great for those
who can see the captions. But for those who have vision
loss and are blind as well, then we would– that’s having a different
aspect coming along with the text option. MIKE SHEBANEK: Yeah,
that’s a good question. What about deaf/blind users? So we’re working really hard
to make the captions work in conjunction with screen
readers, which would then potentially output to
refreshable Braille displays and other means. So whether it’s
transcripts or whether it’s synchronizing with
screen readers, we’re trying to solve
that problem for everyone. AUDIENCE: Could you
speak a little bit to some of the decision
making processes behind deciding whether or
not these captions are going to be in multiple languages? MIKE SHEBANEK: Yeah, the
short version of that answer is we need to get our house
in order for US English. So this requires the video
players to be up to speed. It requires us to make sure
our captioning process is in a good place and the
quality is very good. That’s been most of the
time we’ve spent to date. So part of that
preparation is making sure those video players
can support multiple tracks. So for example, AOL.com,
you can actually see that it supports
multiple language tracks. And that prepares the
way for us to bring in the material, whether
it’s through partners or whether it’s our own, to have
those alternate languages as well. So we’re building that up. We’re going to get there.

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