Deciphering The Cost Of Your Subtitling Services

How much do Subtitling Services cost? Well, that is a rather complicated question to answer. Subtitling Services combine different levels of expertise from the Linguistic Professionals to the Localization/Audiovisual Engineers and Project Managers.

Next to that, your personal preferences will also impact that final number. Will parts of the process be automated? Are you interested in ongoing or long-term cooperation? How long is the video(s)? And, what are the source languages, and which are your target languages? Let us give you a comprehensive guide that puts all these questions into perspective and allows you to enter your next translation project fully prepared on how the cost of subtitling services are calculated!

How Linguistic Subtitling Services Are Charged

Transcription: 100% Human Or Human & Automated?

In the Transcription phase, the audio is converted into a written document with time-codes (this is called a transcript) that can be translated. While transcription itself is usually charged per minute as calculated on the length of the file, there are some variables to consider.

  • The prices per minute are language-sensitive. English videos, for example, are cheaper than Japanese ones due to the complexity of the language and the availability of qualified linguists.
  • There are Auto Transcription Tools available that can automate this part of the process and bring the costs down. These tools are built on the concept of Automated Speech Recognition (ASR). However, it is worth keeping in mind that not every tool works for every language. If you are working with the 6 official languages of the UN (ArabicChinese, English, FrenchRussian or Spanish), there might be plenty of tools available to you such as Dragon Naturally Speaking, Microsoft Translate, Webcaptioner or YouTube ASR, etc.. That being said, in the case Arabic, you will face the challenge of it being a Right-to-Left (RTL) Language. Tools are still evolving into meeting this specific feature.

If you decide to take a shortcut and automate the transcription process, note that this approach will only be successful when you have a high-quality audio file with a clear distinction between speakers who don’t talk over each other. And even with clear sounding audio, the extracted text would essentially need to pass on to a human eye in a specialized Quality Assurance (QA) review. The QA pricing unit is per-minute, however, and the exact price depends on the language and quality outcome of the ASR.

Pro Tip! Want to learn more about subtitling and automation? Check out our blog on Machine Subtitling: Automation To Support Large Subtitling Productions. 

Translation, Linguistic QA, And Partial Automation

The translation is usually charged per word at the rate confirmed by your LSP/Translation Agency when you received your quote. But, while the rate for the translation itself is pretty straightforward, the linguistic process doesn’t stop here.

Every translation is followed by Editing and Proofreading with a specialized focus on:

  • Translation accuracy
  • Contextual relevance
  • Brand identity
  • Cultural preferences or sensitivities

Due to the complex nature of the QA-Process, the rate can remain per word or, depending on which LSP you decide to choose, hourly or flat-fee.

With the Translation Management Systems (TMS) utilized by most LSPs, parts of the translation process including scaling, preparation, content collection, and internal communications, are now largely automated. Not only can a project’s process more easily be tracked through the Translation (CAT) Tool/Subtitling tool, but costs can be cut drastically through the use of a Translation Memory (TM). A TM makes it possible for previously translated words to be saved for future projects so that only newly translated words will be charged. The integration of glossaries and style guides maintain accuracy, consistency, and help linguists understand the brand’s identity more quickly.

While this can further trim the cost of your translation and ensure a faster turnaround time, it can also nurture the possibility of interesting long-term cooperation. Feel free to ask your LSP about the possibilities of any discounts related to high-volume projects and long-term strategies. And even though it is recommended to offer your LSP the opportunity to be involved in the process from the start so that everything can be streamlined, it is possible to request the services separately.

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What About A Translation Without Transcript?

What if you were to send your LSP a video file without a transcription, and would like to receive a quote for the Subtitling or Video Captioning Services? Well, it does get more complicated to provide an accurate number since the word count can be determined. That being said, most LSPs will still be able to give you an estimation without requiring you to provide the transcript.

First of all, as we mentioned before, different languages will hold different rates. Secondly, the file itself will also influence the rate. For example, documentaries with fast speech and music will be more demanding than an eLearning Video. And lastly, when it comes to the actual rate, an average can be taken with the knowledge that generally speaking, a minute of transcription will more likely to fall at the average of 70 – 150 words/minute. Based on this, an average can be calculated.

The Localization Engineers’ Price Tag

When the linguistic side of the process is completed, it is up to the Audiovisual/Localization Engineers to make sure the technical aspects are seamlessly integrated and functioning as they should. To put it simply, it is the Localization Engineer’s job to make sure the video is usable for everyone. They convert the file into the requested by the client (MP4, MOV, WMV, FLV, and so on), confirm the video quality, time codes, and determine the best method the maintain the integrity of the source file and satisfy any other technical requirements such as if the video caption has to be closed or open-caption, etc.

Considering the complex and all-encompassing nature of their job, the Engineers are charged an hourly rate.

Project Management: Ensuring A Seamless Organization

When talking about Subtitling Services, or any service really, the Project Managers (PM) are the oil that makes the gears run smoothly. They focus on which professionals would suit the projects best, design the process, and streamline the workflows that cater to the client’s demands. Long story short? They are here to make sure the team succeeds. This also includes:

  • Briefing linguists on requirements that are shared in the form of Style Guides, Glossaries, and any other important feedback a client may have
  • Managing the deadlines with an eye on allowing for a generous testing stage
  • Resolving any possible disagreements between linguists or reviewers

Since the PM-Team is present in most of the project’s proceedings, you can probably guess that costs are a bit more complicated to define. For this reason, most LSPs tend to add the PM fee as a percentage of the service in general but some LSPs don’t charge for this as a standalone service.

An Important Side Note: Requesting A Subtitling Services Quote For Confidential Information

We would like to conclude this blog by clearing up a situation we have encountered with a couple of in the past. It has happened that we were approached by clients who want to receive a quote for our Subtitling Services, and they were hesitant due to the nature of their work. There was a question of confidentiality for those clients who own their own streaming service and have, for example, a movie that can’t be shared through other platforms.

For this situation, we would like to make clear that having an integration between your streaming server (if available), and the (often cloud-based) TMS or Subtitling Tool. Your LSP won’t be in possession of the movie itself but have access without being able to edit or download the file. Then, when the project is approved, an NDA Agreement will be signed, and the Subtitling Process can proceed in the strictest confidence.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have a couple more questions? Have a look at our FAQ based on common client inquiries. If you are still unclear on certain matters regarding pricing for your next translation project, remember that our Project Managers are available 24/7 and can offer you a quote within minutes!

How are subtitles created?

The creation of subtitles involves a team effort by various professionals from the linguistic, engineering, and project manager. After the transcription, the content will be translated, edited, and proofread in a way that best fits the target language and culture. The engineers are in charge of exporting the product in the correct file type and making sure the output is technologically sound.

How do I automatically add subtitles to a video?

The methods through which you can automatically add subtitles to your video, will depend on which software you are using. VEED and YouTube, for example, are featured with automation tools to automatically generate content based on the speaker. We would like to stress that these tools are not free of errors and when looking for top quality subtitles, human QA is essential.

Can I have a big impact on the rate and turnaround time of my subtitling services?

In the question of how much subtitling services cost, you can influence the process in several ways. Next to optioning for long term cooperation with one LSP so that you get can a better deal especially in the long run, you can make sure that the audio quality of your source content is high so you could opt for partial automation, and the text itself is free of any ambiguities so that translators can finish their job more efficiently.


So, how much do Subtitling Services cost? The exact cost of subtitling services is determined by linguistic, engineering, and project management contributions. While this makes understanding your Subtitling Services bill rather complex, it is good to be aware of the process involved and to understand that qualified LSPs stick to a streamlined workflow with technological tools that help in delivering economical services, especially for long-term clients.

At Laoret, we can offer you a quote for your translation project in a couple of minutes. Our linguists, Localization Engineers, and Project Managers remain available 24/7, so that you can receive quality Subtitling Services within the shortest possible turnaround time.

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