Watching video on mobile phone without sound.

People Aren’t Listening Anymore

Just look on a train or a tube nowadays and everyone is sat there with their phones out.

Some people lament this, thinking that it’ll be the breakdown of society: how can we all get along if we’re communicating through technology and not talking to each other?

I’m a little bit more apathetic. Mainly because I’m definitely one of those people staring at my phone.

One trend that we have seen, mainly due to the ever increasing strength of mobile internet, is the rise of video. Most social media platforms are now able to auto-stream video as you scroll down, making the newsfeed experience a lot less static. Mark Zuckerberg himself has suggested that Facebook may become a predominantly video-based medium within the next few years.

But what about the sound?

Although there are some that seem to relish in it, most refrain from turning their volume up full blast while sat on a bus, and as we don’t all carry headphones around with us this means that videos that work well without audio are becoming increasingly more popular.

This is ok, if like me, you tend to find yourself watching videos of dogs – but what about those videos where there is something being communicated audibly? Clips of programmes or interviews?

In the TV world, Channel 4 have been an exponent of creating videos that don’t need sound – and have done it very well. Here’s one example from SAS: Who Dares Wins where they’ve gone beyond simple subtitles and created something much more visually appealing and eye-catching.

What they have created is a very easy way to hold the viewer’s attention with the added extra of increasing the accessibility of more digital content for the deaf and hard of hearing.

There’s also this retro 18 to 30 holiday-style promo created for The Island with Bear Grylls, which rather than being a repurposed piece of content will have been created to not only be visually disruptive while scrolling a newsfeed with no sound but also communicate a message to those that love watching people starve and squabble on a desert island. I love it.

At UKTV we have also made attempts to begin ensuring that social media users don’t need sound to get the messages expressed in our videos, by repurposing our on-air promos for digital consumption. One such example is this repack of Yesterday’s Shakespeare The Legacy with John Nettles on-air promo with simple subtitles for contributors and programme narration, and large centred text for the script.

Although this does require investment in time, the results do show excellent value for effort expended and I’d expect to see this kind of behaviour becoming standard practice across the majority of social platforms.


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