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subtitles on netflix streaming?

by radbobdad / June 26, 2011 3:20 PM PDT


Netflix just released a statement boostering their growing support of subtitles on streaming movies, and listed a number of devices targeted, but existing Samsung devices were not on the list.

Anybody know what the deal is here? If support for subtitles comes in new Samsung TVs, do existing TVs also get the benefit? It would be great. I love my Samsung for streaming netflix currently, but subtitles would be a big help in some circumstances (like UK releases with strong dialect accents, which can be hard to follow sometimes).

Roku was on the list, and I have an old Roku, but the experience is much inferior to the native experience I get with the TV, I'd hate to have to dust it off...

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Clarification Request
Subtitles on Netflix streaming movies via Samsung Smart
by kenarcia / November 19, 2011 11:43 AM PST


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I think this discussion has this topic well covered.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 19, 2011 11:47 AM PST
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by ddpg / January 23, 2013 11:22 PM PST

We have a Samsung model HT-D6500W/ZA and a model BD-EM57C/2A. The HT doesn't have Netflix subtitles, but the BD model does. Clearly not a Netflix problem, but Samsung in their horribly inconsistent programming options that vary from model to model. Obviously, they don't tell you that on the box. Samsung just advertises "Netflix" on both of them, but doesn't tell you about the variances of offering subtitles.

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Re: It is a Netflix Issue
by Samsung_HD_Tech Samsung staff / January 24, 2013 12:08 AM PST

Hi ddpg,

Netflix develops their app for Smart Hub. They decide which products to release their updates to. So you simply have two different versions of Netflix, one has subtitles, the other doesn't.

HD Tech

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They're ALL Smart Hub Down Here...
by ddpg / January 24, 2013 2:31 AM PST paraphrase Stephen King. You say Netflix develops their app for Smart Hub. Well, both our Samsung are Smart Hub.

Next, you say Netflix dictates which Samsung Blu Ray model will have subtitles. Last I knew, Netflix doesn't manufacture Samsung's products. Therefore, when Samsung is shipping out their products in their colorful boxes that advertise "Netflix", Samsung needs to add another fine print asterisk next to the Netflix logo to let the consumer know whether or not subtitles are available on that particular Samsung product. It's YOUR product, ergo I maintain it's a Samsung issue. Let YOUR customers know.

Now, I have a Samsung surround sound product that is no good to me. I now have to spend more money to find a 3D surround sound package that has Netflix subtitles. It will not be another Samsung. Maybe all the manufacturers do the same. Don't know. But, burn me once...

Good news is that I found today that Netflix is at least trying to help the consumer (yes, that's a snide comment, pardon me). In their online Support section, I just printed up model listings, of various manufacturers of blu ray players, that DO HAVE subtitles. I will have the sorting problem of determining which are 3D + surround sound (again manufacturers, help the buying public), but at least it's a starting point. More than Samsung has given me. Last note without the sour grapes...thanks for responding, Online Brand Ambassador. I am literally out the door, right now, to purchase.

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Re: It's all Smart Hub, but it's not all Smart Hub 2012
by Samsung_HD_Tech Samsung staff / January 24, 2013 4:12 AM PST

Hi ddpg,

2011 and 2012 interfaces are both named Smart Hub, but they're not the same. Smart Hub 2012 is an iteration of 2011's; in the same way, 2013's interface looks different from 2012, but it'll still be called Smart Hub.

Further, in 2011, the Netflix app didn't have subtitles with its software at launch. In 2012, the Netflix app did have subtitles at launch. This was a combination of hardware limitations and software development decisions. Some of low end 2012 Blu-ray and home theaters didn't support Netflix with subtitles. However, they've since then it has been added to them. What was the technical limitation that was overcome to not allow this previously, but not allow it now. I don't know.

So this means you can buy any 2012 Samsung home theater and be fine.

HD Tech

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Re: It's all Smart Hub, but it's not all Smart Hub 2012 - Ne
by ddpg / January 24, 2013 8:38 AM PST

So, I can "buy any 2012 Samsung home theater and be fine", you say. To beat the dead horse a bit will I know that (besides your say-so)? Will it be clearly noted on the 2012 Samsung boxes? I submit, probably not. So Samsung will still keep the consumer in the dark about what they are buying.

What if you went to a paint store and bought a can of paint. You would expect to go home and paint. But when you open the can, you find it filled with feathers. Upon complaint, the paint store says,.."Well, we don't actually fill the paint cans...that's done by someone else. It's not our fault." Again, Samsung builds the product. Samsung puts the product in a box with a Netflix logo. Samsung ships the product to the retail outlets. Then Samsung says, "Even though we KNOW that not all Netflix programming in OUR product doesn't have subtitles, we are NOT going to tell the customer when they buy it". It's deceitful, misleading, and casts the consumer to the winds of never-never land.

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Be sure to call them on this area.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 24, 2013 9:39 AM PST

Now that other than the maker can supply apps, you can't be sure that if it's not just what you wanted can ever be corrected.

It's not like a Windows laptop where we can change our apps for others if we find it's not right. Maybe it's time to open up the TV just like the Android platform? As it stands now, the app author has to go to all the hoops and then, maybe, get their app published.

These walled gardens are prisons by another name.

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I see a response about this.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 24, 2013 1:03 AM PST

I have a picture of the relationship of the app developer and the TV maker. This model is like your Dell PC that came with Windows. You add some app and if the app was not from Dell, most accept the feature would be the responsibility of the app's author.

Today, this is pretty new ground as a TV is not what it used to be. At the office we watch to see what the consumers will do when they discover this area.

All Answers

Best Answer chosen by radbobdad

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It's all up to Netflix to get this done.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 27, 2011 3:01 AM PDT

While Samsung could ask for it, it's all up to Netflix to make it happen. Thanks for the note on Roku, I thought it was behind the curve but I had compared it to the iPad/PC/Apple experience.

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But is there risk of Netflix app incompatibility?
by radbobdad / June 27, 2011 4:33 AM PDT

The note is here:

My question really is one of compatibility. If Netflix or Samsung or whomever releases an updated application for Samsung TV that displays streaming with subtitles, is it possible such an app could only work on newer TVs, or would only be released on newer TVs? That's how the note could be interpreted, since it says only new appliances will get the benefit.

Or do the newest and planned Samsung Internet TVs use apps that are compatible with existing Smart TVs, and will Samsung continue to provide updates for existing TVs to the newest apps for the foreseeable future?

Bottom line: Will existing Smart TVs (I'm interested in LED 7000 series) get the app when it's available? Or only new models?

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by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 27, 2011 4:58 AM PDT

But your device will only show what is available for it. That is, a 2010 TV will not show some app for a 2011 TV that is incompatible.

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I hope not!
by radbobdad / June 27, 2011 6:11 AM PDT
In reply to: Absolutely!

That's disappointing, because it still implies that the new Netflix app might only be released for newer TVs.

However, for something like what we're talking about - simply adding subtitles to the movie launch menus, it doesn't seem like it would use any hardware features, so I'm hoping that it can be released in a way that works with existing TVs. There's nothing that would preclude that, is there? After all, that's the beauty of network-upgradeable appliances - they continue to improve after the purchase date. Which is a big part of their attraction.

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I wish it was simply....
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 27, 2011 6:48 AM PDT
In reply to: I hope not!

Unlike old broadcast TV, SD (Standard Definition) and pre-HDTV, Subtitles are not a trivial thing. It's a shame there is not a simple to read web site about how it used to work by picking off SCAN LINE 21 and shoving that to some closed caption "chip".

Today you might have consumers upset over issues such as subtitle font, size, color, location and language support.

It's such a mess that the FCC dropped the ball and did not mandate it on HD.

Now back to the newer HD TVs with some very small computers in them. Some consumers are flaming upset about this area demanding full fledged Web browsers or writing "my PC does this" and we have draw back the curtain and look at the little microcomputer inside these sets to understand there is often not enough compute power to get the effects folk want today.

And then we have the consumer that doesn't want to read all this, they just want it fixed.

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Disappointing, but very informative
by radbobdad / June 27, 2011 7:39 AM PDT

Wow - who knew? Thanks for the education. It's a shame that proper hardware specs weren't drawn into the HD standard to make this simple (although it doesn't seem the US FCC is the right body to blame. Seems like more of a standardization than a regulatory issue - wouldn't this have been ATSC's responsiblity?).

I hope a simple solution can be found that doesn't over-engineer the problem out of the space where existing TVs can be addressed. I've never been able to control the placement of movie subtitles in the past, and I'd just like the basic level of functionality I'm used to, for starters at least. Anything beyond that is bells and whistles and it would be a shame if they wound up making a solution impossible for existing equipment.

I appreciate the info, and as an engineer myself I know that developing solutions to please everyone can be "challenging" :-).

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Mixing up Closed Captions and subtitles?
by radbobdad / June 27, 2011 8:12 AM PDT

By the way, I think we're mixing things up here. You're absolutely right with your above comments, with regards to Closed Captioning.

But subtitles are a different deal. If I play a DVD and turn on subtitles, it's not using any Closed Caption hardware! It's displaying video frames that have been rendered with text on them, by the distributor! That's a different deal entirely, and only requires that the content provider of the DVD make alternate video available with the subtitles rendered.

I assume that's what's happening here, rather than a solution tied to Closed Captioning... So the solution really should be simple. Netflix just provides both videos - with and without subtitles, and the app just chooses whichever one you select. That's twice as much storage for Netflix (assuming they don't do something clever and create overlays dynamically) of course, but hey storage is cheap right?

Hope springs eternal.

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And Subtitles back then used the CC hardware.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 27, 2011 8:18 AM PDT

It's an old video designer's trick to piggy back your subtitles on top of the gov mandated hardware. It made it cheap to implement closed captions.

Sorry but I must tip my hand a little here. I'm one of those that worked in the industry designing circuits, software and more in the video world. So for me, these features cross borders of software and hardware and naming.

I can only guess where Netflix implemented the captioning but given there is no CC hardware in HD land by mandate you are now having to craft it in software (expensive to do) or if your video chip does it, then your programmer staff complains there are no standards.

All this is interesting as we pull back the curtain to see the little man working to make it all happen but as you suspect, consumers don't want to know.

But I think the more we know the better we are equipped to handle answers and who to ask.

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My two cents....
by Samsung_HD_Tech Samsung staff / June 27, 2011 8:32 AM PDT
In reply to: I hope not!

...which are probably worth 2.5 cents. Wink

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netflix ready device with closed captioning
by bmckinneytbg / December 22, 2011 2:42 PM PST
In reply to: My two cents....
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netflix subtitles
by bmckinneytbg / December 22, 2011 2:44 PM PST
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