Lucy Murphy on why we’ve chosen to turn on the subtitles for Sky Kids

Wednesday 17 March 2021

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For many of us, when we’re watching our favourite TV shows, films or maybe just catching up on the news, subtitles play the role of language translator. While for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, subtitles are a crucial way to ensure everyone can enjoy the content they love. But there’s another huge benefit to turning the subtitles on.

Studies show that by turning on same-language subtitles while children are watching TV you can double the chances of a child becoming a good reader. Reading skills might be something we take for granted, but 16% of adults in UK can be described as having ‘very poor literacy skills’, and poor literacy skills can affect a person throughout their life. Not being able to read fluently doesn’t just hold you back at school; it limits life chances and job prospects, increases the risk of turning to crime and can even impact life expectancy.

We know that building and improving reading and writing skills is a critical part of a child’s development. It’s shocking to know that currently one in four children in the UK leave primary school without being able to read fluently.

Last week we announced a new collection of always-on subtitled kids’ content and our support for the Turn On the Subtitles campaign. TOTS is reaching out and raising awareness of the benefits of children watching content with same language subtitles. Their eye-tracking research shows that 94% of children engage with subtitles while watching their favourite shows and begin to improve their spelling, grammar and vocabulary, often unaware they are learning.

Working in partnership with WarnerMedia and ViacomCBS UK, we have curated a collection of kids content with the subtitles permanently on. It includes more than 500 of our most popular episodes of kid’s content like SpongeBob SquarePants, PAW Patrol and Gumball as well as some of our Sky Kids Originals like Pirates Love Underpants and Moominvalley.

At Sky, we connect millions of children to the entertainment, learning and factual shows that they love. We’re proud to support this simple initiative, that could play an important role in developing the skills and prospects of our next generation. It’s incredible that something as simple as turning on the subtitles could have far reaching consequences that you simply cannot put a price on.