iTunes Caption Requirements & Subtitle Guide for Videos

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As more iPad and iPhone users enjoy iTunes video content, Apple continues enforcing strict captions policies. On June 30, 2015, Apple removed all TV and movie video content in the United States iTunes Store that didn’t include options for closed captioning. This is due to the Federal Communications Commission FCC which regulates captions and subtitles. Apple’s commitment to comply with the FCC by implementing iTunes caption requirements helps ensure content is available for everyone. However, producers, media companies and video programming distributors (VPDs) may have questions.

The FCC has stringent guidelines for closed captioning and subtitles in videos, which we’ll explore.

FCC Closed Caption Requirements for Video

The iTunes Store distributes digital media and is subject to closed caption rules regulated and updated by the FCC. The 21st Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) gives the FCC jurisdiction over video content online.

As outlined by the CVAA, any video that airs on TV in the U.S. with closed captions must include them online. Hence, Apple’s 2015 closed caption changes help reduce their liability with content that doesn’t include captions.

Closed captions are the text boxes used in movies, TV programs, news segment or another type of media. They provide subtitles for the deaf or hard of hearing so they can access all available video content. Subtitles are available in movies, TV shows, news and documentaries if the dialogue is in a foreign language.

With FCC guidelines for US markets, anyone that creates video content must include closed captions. Hence, Apple pays aggregators for sales and they pay content owners. However, movies, documentaries and short films) have to include Apple-specific, FCC-compliant encoding. All movies need captions and subtitles in the language of the territory where distribution will occur.

Closed captioning for movies and TV programs must:

  • Be unobtrusive, at readable speeds and not block the viewing area
  • Match all dialogue and include background sounds, music or noises
  • Run for the entirety of the program
  • Align with the dialogue to make it easy to follow what’s on screen

iTunes Closed Captioning Rules for Videos

When looking for video content with hearing SDH closed captions in the iTunes Store, it has a CC icon next to a movie or show. Captions are customizable if you want to change fonts or legibility styles. The other way to find television shows or movies with closed captions is to select the “With Closed Captions” filter. Viewers can select closed captions, audio descriptions (AD), alternate audio languages, Spanish or English subtitles, SDH and other options.

Here are a few facts on captioning:

  • Closed captions aren’t required for video content like movies or television shows that aren’t in English or Spanish.
  • Subtitles are necessary to provide access for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Captions are necessary if your video is iTunes Extras bonus content, i.e., a trailer, preview or video clip.
  • Captions are necessary for video clips of full-length movies that already aired on TV with captions.

Meeting Captioning Guidelines with Rev

With our full-service captioning and transcription service, Rev can add captions to your video content for iTunes. You want to ensure you’re FCC-compliant and with our team of experts, you never have to worry about FCC updates or changes. We offer high-quality captions and our team pays careful attention to all FCC closed caption rules and changes.

To get started, let’s determine the type of captions order you might have:

How to Order Individual Video Content Captions

Perhaps you only have a few videos you want to upload to iTunes. Captioning content is simple. You can paste URLs, upload your files or pull videos from sites like Vimeo or YouTube:

To Order Captions:

  • Start by uploading a file or pasting a URL onto our site. We offer fast 24-hour turnarounds.
  • You can also caption videos straight from your account. We accept Adobe, Hulu, Vimeo, YouTube and other platforms.
  • Once we caption your videos, we’ll email your file formats in .srt, .txt, .mcc or other file types. We have helpful tools that let you edit your videos. You can then publish your content with iTunes.
  • With our dedicated team of 50,000+ professionals, we’re available 24/7/365 and our work is 100% guaranteed.

How to Order Bulk Video Content Captions

Another way to order captions is if you want to place a bulk order. Or, maybe you want captions at the lowest cost. You can select from Rev API or Rev AI and the steps are easy:


Most businesses use Rev API. It lets you caption large video content caption orders. We have a professional team of transcriptionists and we ensure 99%+ accuracy on all orders.

To start using Rev API:

  • Use the link above and give us your name and email address.
  • Choose from our transcription or caption/subtitle service. We’ll then email sandbox credentials to you and there’s no account required.
  • Start placing your orders right away. Our team is always ready to assist (no matter how large the project size).
  • If turnaround times are a factor, we return transcripts in 6 hours or less and captions in under 24 hours.

Rev AI

If cost is a factor, Rev AI might be a better alternative. It’s a cheaper transcription service that businesses use as it has an automated speech-to-text engine API, (robots). While it’s slightly less accurate than human transcription, it’s much cheaper. It supports live captioning and you can use the world’s best speech-to-text engine.

To start using Rev AI:

If you’re ready to use Rev AI, select from a free trial that converts to a Pay As You Go Plan or an Enterprise Plan:

Pay As You Go Plan

When you only need a few video content captions, Rev AI includes a free 5-hour credit. Then, if you’re satisfied with the service, sign up for a Pay As You Go Plan. There aren’t any usage limits and you’ll have support via email, phone and chat.

Enterprise Plan

If you have a lot of videos to publish at once, enterprise captioning might be a better alternative. This is ideal if price, accuracy and completion dates are factors. And, you never have to worry about FCC updates or changes – leave it to our team. Pricing with this plan depends on the volume of work you have. Advantages include you’ll have priority support and dedicated account reps. To find out more about an Enterprise Plan, contact us at (888) 491-8470. We’ll help you find the best solution.