A day in the life of subtitles

A day in the life of subtitles

Updated 30th April


Sky Access Services – A Newcomer’s Perspective

Hello! A very quick introduction about me. I’m one of the newest members of the team, who joined Sky’s Access Services department last year. I work mainly with the co-ordination of the subtitling process here at Sky.

As you can imagine, starting a new role in the peak of the pandemic wasn’t a particularly easy task, but the team always did their best to ensure that everything went as smoothly as possible, and made sure to ease any particular concerns I may have.

Straight away, my first impression of the department was the warmth and friendliness of everyone. It’s a strange situation we’re living in now, but despite not meeting many people face to face, I genuinely feel that I’ve been able to grow close to everyone in my team regardless.

Most importantly though, it was the department’s dedication towards providing the best service possible that impressed me the most. Though we have a friendly work environment; when it comes down to it, everyone here is very passionate about what we do and the service we provide. I feel that it’s very easy to overlook and underestimate the importance of subtitles; but for many, it can be their only way of accessing a particular form of media. Without them, there would be no way for some people to understand their favourite television series, movie or sporting event.

As someone who was new to the department, it was amazing for me to learn about the sheer amount of time and energy involved that goes towards producing the subtitles you see every day. From production, to the coordinators and subtitlers, to transmission. There are a lot of layers and people involved whose job it is to make sure you’re able to watch your favourite tv show, wherever you are, as easily as possible.

Francesca Bussey's story...

My name is Francesca Bussey, I am part of the Media Management team who get all Sky’s programmes ready to air, and I focus specifically on our subtitles provision. I can hear but British sign Language is my first language as my parents are both profoundly deaf and I grew up within the Deaf community, so I love that my job involves working on our subtitles provision, and making TV accessible for deaf and Hard of Hearing people.

Last year, we provided subtitles on 85% of the content on average across 26 Sky linear channels, that's a lot of files to get right. And I'm delighted we launched subtitles on demand in September 2016 and now provide subtitles on 91% of Sky Catch-up, 91% of Sky Cinema, and 81% of Sky Box Sets. As a team, we prioritise what content gets subtitled to make sure we cover our most popular and iconic programmes, even when this involves very tight timescales to turn them around.

My role mainly involves checking and editing subtitles for all our platforms. I watch everything from Supermarket Sweep to Game of Thrones. Whatever I’m watching, I’m always thinking of the best way to let subtitles make the viewing experience better – never intrusive, but always accurate, informative and reflecting the mood of the programme. When programmes like NCIS or Criminal Minds are cut to make them suitable for daytime viewing, the subtitles also have to be cut, so a large part of my job is making sure that the subtitles stay in sync with the edited programme and that no bad language makes it through. I may view around 20 programmes a day so I have a very sharp eye to catch everything!

I’m very proud to be part of a team that delivers such a vital service, one that I feel personally passionate about. And of course, as ever, we welcome the conversation with our customers about subtitles, and always strive to improve.

Francesca Bussey