How Much Does Closed Captioning Cost?


If you're in the content economy, you have noticed the "tiktokification" of content. Short-form videos optimized for sound-off consumption have become the primary content category on Instagram as well. Even Youtube has made way for such clips with its Shorts product. Whether you want to capitalize on the massive reach of short subtitled clips or you want your long-form content to be easier to access, you should invest in closed captions. But how much is the question?

Closed captioning costs 60 to 80 words per dollar if transcribed manually and up to 8,640 words per dollar if transcribed with an auto-captioning program. Virtual Assistants charge $10 for captioning one video (at a minimum), and subtitling programs cost over $10 for a month of captioning videos.

In this article, you will learn more about the individual cost ranges of both types of closed captioning. You will also find out the pros and cons of CCs created by humans and ones generated by intelligent programs. By the end of this post, you will also find specific costs for different captioning services. But first, let's go over the average expenditure on captioning for different contexts.

Context Method Cost per Month
Educator (coach, speaker, etc.) Virtual Assistant who uses captioning programs and video editors $600 - $2000
Comedian Personally generated using a content captioning program $10 - $80
Podcaster Podcast producer uses a captioning program for clips $100 - $600
Youtuber Edited personally or by a part-time editor using a transcription program $10 - $600

How Much Does Closed Captioning Cost (Per Method)

As you can see, the price range of closed captioning services is pretty wide. The reason behind the diversity of price points in the CC market is the variation in methods of captions. There are individual transcribers who personally caption videos and charge over $25 per hour. And there are intelligent programs like ContentFries that can generate accurate captions and even paste them on your video for $9 per month.

In this section, we get into the different methods of captioning alongside their respective prices and strong points. This analysis can help you choose the closed captioning service that matches not only your budget but also your needs.

Virtual Assistant: $10 To $50 Per Hour (600 Words Average Output)

Best for Any entrepreneur or personality making over $1 million per year.

Virtual Assistants charge $10 to $50 per hour depending on their experience, competence, and service quality. What assistants charge for transcribing and superimposing the transcribed captions onto a video can also vary based on where they live.

Those living in affordable countries charge less, but there's always the risk of a non-native speaker misunderstanding the language. The more first-world your hire, the less you need to be concerned about their understanding of what's being said.

However, hiring someone in America will cost you more because of their tax and lifestyle cost burdens. Hiring someone in India or Bangladesh might be cheaper because of the cost of living in those countries, but you will need to be more attentive in the hiring process to filter out people who might not have as firm a grasp of English.

Good Virtual Assistants are a luxury that most content creators cannot afford. Even with a seemingly reasonable price point of $10, the overall cost can add up to an unmanageable amount if your monthly video output is high.

Pros of VA:

  • Human understanding of nuances in your speech delivery - Assistants who personally listen and transcribe audio for captioning can remove loud pauses like hmms and aahs from the audio.

  • Can execute exact instructions - VAs can also be instructed to deviate from transcription in the subtitles to include commentary captions like "speaking a foreign language," "looking off-screen," etc., to describe what's happening. You can tell them your preferences and get the exact deliverable you need.

Cons of VA:

  • They might not be good - Using VAs is as good an option as the VA you can afford. There are many amateurs side-hustling as VAs, and they do not have the professionalism or the long-term view to do a good job. A VA doing the bare minimum or being incapable of doing the job they claim can lead to extra work for the client.

  • They might use a program to do their job for them - This is one of the most common concerns for content creators. Many VAs use intelligent captioning programs like ContentFries to make subtitled videos for them at a fraction of the price they are paid for the service. There is no way of knowing if a VA has personally transcribed the audio or has used ContentFries, which is why many content creators work with ContentFries directly.

Auto-Captioning - Free To $100

Auto captioning is the second umbrella category in the subtitling industry. To automatically generate closed captions, you can use free tools like Youtube and Facebook, or you can use advanced paid ones like ContentFries and Caption Maker. Depending on your captioning needs (quantity), you can pay as little as $9/month to get professional-grade captioned videos with this method.

Best For: Podcasters, Coaches, Comedians, And Knowledge-Based Content Creators.

Autocaptioning is great for people who want to get quickly generated captions and can spare 30 minutes from their day to batch-create subtitled videos. Good auto-captioning programs can help you extract the text transcript from the video and superimpose it on the video.

You must judge auto-captioning programs based on the following factors:

  • Accuracy of transcription - has one of the best transcription accuracy ratings. ContentFries has over 90% transcription accuracy and far more video editing features. The latter also costs less.

  • Subtitle Display Options - This aspect deals with how the captions are displayed. A simple transcriber can generate a subtitles file, which is a ledger of captions. But the display font and even superimposing it on the video requires further editing. ContentFries autogenerates captions and provides drag-and-drop display templates. It also offers customization options in terms of caption fonts, size, and placement.

  • Time-saving / Workflow efficiency - In this can take a hit because its pure transcription service can offer only the text output of the captions. You need to place those in an editor and manage their synchronization with the audio yourself. This can take 30 minutes of editing for 5 minutes of video.

Autocaptioning, like VA transcription, can lead to variations in output quality. How good of a result you get depends a lot on the captioning program you use. Before getting into the top captioning software options, let's look at the overall pros and cons of auto-captioning in general.

The pros of auto-captioning:

  • Your content is safe from leaks - For high-level podcasters and comedians, leaks can be a major concern. You have to keep your content from leaking unofficially, and one of the best ways to do that is to caption it yourself using an auto-captioning program.

  • You can personally tweak it and make changes to the content - Virtual Assistants have hundreds of clients and can keep asking for extensions whenever you have editing requirements. Autocaptioning programs allow you to make the changes yourself.

  • It costs significantly less than hiring transcribers - Because captioning software has a high transcription quota for a low price, it can be infinitely cheaper than a transcription specialist who also knows how to edit videos.

The cons of auto-captioning:

  • It can be inaccurate - Autocaptioning as an option is as good as an individual program's captioning engine. Not all programs have accurate captioning capabilities. Even default editors of Apple and Microsoft computers can have less than 80% accuracy when generating auto-captions. The poorer your program's captioning capabilities, the more you need to personally proof the final video.

  • It can be time-consuming - Finally, captioning videos yourself can be time-consuming if you use a transcription-only program. You have to export the subtitles into an editor and have to sync them with the video. Fortunately, this drawback doesn't apply to content fries.


Closed Captioning Program: What Will You Spend?

If you recall the table at the beginning of this post, you'll remember that most contexts make use of captioning programs. Even YouTubers with dedicated editors and podcasters with producers don't have their captions individually transcribed.

Instead, their assistants/editors use captioning programs and proof them before superimposing them on video. Whether you add the captions yourself or with the help of an editor, you should choose a good closed-captioning program. Let's go over what you will spend with each of the top options.

ContentFries ($9 for 1,800 words - $79 for 90,000 words)

This is our program designed primarily to be a content-repurposing platform. It allows you to produce contextualized clips from long-form content and has one of the most accurate transcription engines. You can sign-up for its free trial and test the accuracy of its captioning engine against that of Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram caption generators.

ContentFries is best for people who don't just want closed captions but want to customize the appearance of said captions on their videos. The ContentFries template library has hundreds of high-engagement templates alongside the ability to change font size and upload your own subtitle fonts.

ContentFries is available at a monthly charge of $9, $18, $27, $49, or $79. Each tier brings different benefits, mainly the captioning duration quota. You can find out more about the ContentFries plans from its pricing page. ($8.33 for 5,400 words)

When it comes to transcription accuracy, does a really good job. However, the program only creates text, which then has to be edited onto the video. Because it allows exporting the transcription as a timed-subtitles file like ContentFries, it can be used to upload captions to Youtube and Facebook. The subtitles files can also be imported into different video editors though iMovie doesn't have that facility. is a great choice if you produce hours of content every month and know your way around a video editor that allows importing subtitles. Its transcription is cheaper than ContentFries, but it doesn't have the video editing and time-saving perks offered by its competitors. ($0.25 To 1.50 For 100 Words On Average)

REV's best perk is that it offers manual transcription as well as AI-driven programmatic transcription. Users can switch back and forth between the options for different videos. However, its human transcription feature is pricier than privately hired VAs. Unlike virtual assistants you hire privately, though, REV makes sure that when you pay for human transcription, the captioning is done manually.

Rev's subtitling service is powered by programmatic captioning, similar to ContentFries. You do not get as many font placement and customization options, but you get the standard closed caption format.


How To Pick A Captioning Solution?

Since this resource is produced by ContentFries, you would expect us to push our service and call it a day. But to maintain our happy client base, we prefer that only people who can get genuine value out of our service use it.

If you know how to edit videos and don't mind spending time importing captions into a video editor, then is the cheapest solution, as it gives you 144 minutes for every dollar you spend. But you'll just get the text and will have to manually add it to a video editor spending 30 minutes on average for every 1 - 5 minutes of video.

If you want to upload a video and get captions over it in a few minutes, then ContentFries is better, but it gives you up to 18 minutes of transcription for every dollar you spend, depending on the plan you choose. Virtual Assistants give you 12 seconds of transcription for every dollar you spend.

To choose a closed captioning solution, you have to decide what matters the most to you. You can pick based on convenience, time-saving, and budget.

  • Best for budget, convenience, and time-saving - ContentFries - ContentFries is not as cheap as text transcribers, but it comes with a powerful drag-and-drop editor that can save time and make Closed Captioning very convenient while keeping it affordable.

  • Best for convenience - Virtual Assistant via REV - This solution is more expensive than ContentFries but is very convenient. The people who work for REV know exactly what they have to do, and you don't have to explain much.

  • Best for budget - - While this is the cheapest transcription service, it doesn't do anything other than produce text content from audio. You need to then take the text and add it to the video yourself.

Final Thoughts

Closed captioning can cost $10 per video to $10 per 10 videos depending on the video length and the solution you choose. The best solution for the budget is, but one must know how to take its text and paste it into a video editor while managing how it syncs to the video. ContentFries is best for quick and accurate captions on a budget. And REV is best for human transcription.