We're left out by Lovefilm, say hearing impaired

lovefilm subtitles

Lovefilm's online streaming service has a big problem: no subtitles.

Hearing impaired users are particularly disadvantaged by the lack of subtitles.

"My wife and I are hearing impaired and having this option present is important to us," Craig Butcher wrote on his personal blog back in May 2011.

"I had a good look through the iTunes UK store and only find that 208 films are subtitled... Lovefilm? Absolutely nothing."

Emma Harrison, Director of Public Engagement for the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) told us that, as part of a Government review, the charity was calling for new laws to increase the availability of subtitles across all platforms.

"We urge Lovefilm and other film and programme providers to consider the needs of people who are deaf or hard of hearing to ensure they are able to enjoy their favourite films in the same way as the rest of their customers," she said.

Lovefilm's license problem

Writing in response to Mr Butcher's blog post, Lovefilm said that it was, "... prohibitively costly, and likely to be breach of license agreements, for us to unilaterally develop and implement open or closed captioning for our on demand titles."

The DVD rental service said it would continue to raise the issue with its licensees.

Along with the rest of the UK's online DVD rental services, Lovefilm's physical discs in its DVD and blu ray catalogue is much more likely to have some subtitles, if not full captioning.

But, as online streaming models become increasingly popular, that excuse will wear increasingly thin.

The hearing impaired will be left behind.

"We are left out here. If you want to experience how we feel. Watch a film or TV show and turn the sound off. Watch it from start to finish," says Mr Butcher.

"... Frustrated? That is our frustration and we cannot wave it aside because we want to be part of the experience that everyone is having.

"Subtitles are there to help us to understand and be part of the film community."


14 October 2014
Pepe Byrne

I find the response for it to be in breach total utter rubbish. I'm deaf and need subtitles on anything I watch as stated in one response BBC iPlayer does it and also a lot of films, not all from Netflix has subtitles. I demand to know why almost every other online provider inc Sky has failed to do so to this date.

24 November 2013

I can only watch films on LoveFilm that I've seen before, new films I have no hope, it's vital that I have subtitles, it's not my fault I'm deaf, and had I known there would be no CC I would have never of signed up.

23 November 2013
Kris L

It's not expensive at all. Netflix has EVERY SINGLE THING subtitled. LoveFilm is simply a subpar service and I'll never use it again.

6 November 2013
Lauren Austin

It's not just Lovefilm that I pay good money for without the option of subtitles. What about all the On Demand programmes on Sky? Why don't they have subtitles either? If they can't sort out access for deaf people across ALL aspects of their services then they should compensate us and the amount of money we pay!!

22 September 2013

No subtitles - No Lovefilm for me.

17 August 2013
Michael Farrell

Netflix manages to subtitle most films, why can't Lovefilm?

3 July 2013

Poor excuse, poor outlook and poor service as a whole. Surprised to see lack of progress since a 3rd of the population is hard of hearing! That's a lot of lost revenue. Disc service is ok but you have to wait for a long time to get the 'good films'.

Netflix are improving but films quality is limited. Netflix have implemented subtitles because in the USA all internet media contents need to include captions by the end of 2013. LoveFilm is not a USA registered company hence the abysmal response.

Rumours have it that NowTV will have all new content subtitles at the end of the year. Fingers crossed!

Subtitle files and contents are easily available from discs, the internet and production companies, stop being lazy and crack on!

11 June 2013
John paiva

I prefer my rented movies to have English subtitles as a member of my family is German and gets much more enjoyment from English films with English subtitles.

Many great films come with German subtitles. Easy to understand as after all, this is Germany. Still, so many films I must pass by due to the lack of subtitles.

27 April 2013
Trevor Morgan

Love (loading-please-wait) Film Instant is basically a good service, but even with my hearing aid I struggle to hear the dialogue with most films. If I wait for the DVD, then most of them carry subtitles. Surely the DVD based subtitles can be transferred to the streaming version? Lovefilm must be losing significant revenue due to this shortcoming.

16 April 2013
Patrick Boys

I am deaf and subtitles are vital to me, in this day and age I cannot understand why subtitles cannot be provided on streaming video, the BBC iPlayer does so why not LoveFilm?

18 February 2013

No subtitles makes no sense. I only wanted them to hear what two Japanese guys were saying at the beginning of a film, but to actively exclude all subtitles not already meshed with the video file is bewildering; what do deaf and hard of hearing people, let alone those not gifted with omnilingualism, do?

15 July 2012
jade lowe

Just logged onto Lovefilm on my PS3 looking forwards to watching a film and no options of subtitles, absolutely gutted and disgraced, this is discrimination... I, myself have a hearing impairment and having subtitles allows me to understand the story better!

25 May 2012
Hannah Lees

I have just signed up for LoveFilm by the people in town centres, I asked are there subtitles on here or on the Playstation, they said yes, so I said ok ... get home and no subtitles, they have ripped me off, I'm going back to Netflix!!!

10 May 2012
martin rusby

Netflix is so much better and has a lot of subtitled content.

27 April 2012
Mike Sands

I have just come across this article about the inexcusable lack of subtitles on Lovefilm Instant streaming service. This is very important to me, as I am very hard of hearing and rely upon subtitles to completely understand what is being said. I feel that I am being discriminated against.

I am probably in the prime target group for Lovefilm customers 35 - 50 - so come on Lovefilm get your act together. If it is licencing that is the problem, then deal with it and make your service more appealing. Your excuses are weak and show you to be uncaring.

25 January 2012

I am now unsubscribing from Lovefilm. They've lost a customer with their insensitive feelings towards disability, I am deeply upset, good-day.


21 January 2012

I also registered today but there is no subtitle on the films. I will delete my account before the free trial run out. I want to see films with subtitles. If I do not have the choice I wont pay for it. Very clever Lovefilm and Netflix. If you do not need my money then I am going and using a torrent client.

20 January 2012

Netflix offer subtitles on most of it's films which is a start, not all of them most of them you can turn subtitles on.

11 January 2012

Netflix just started in the UK, it is similiar to Lovefilm but they only offer streaming movies and TV shows. But the good thing is that all movies come with subtitles and most TV shows too (except some UK series from channel 4).

1 October 2011

I absolutely agree. The only films I watch online using Lovefilm are foreign language ones with English subtitles which luckily I enjoy watching anyway (Pan's Labyrinth is wonderful!). Otherwise I have to order the disc for the movie I want to watch online and then wait.

I think that not having a written form of the dialogue somewhere might even be illegal because in Government (I used to work closely with civil servants) if you air a video without a transcript that's illegal I think - or at least very very strongly frowned up so a transcript is always provided. Even YouTube now has automated captions for Pete's sake (yes, they're a bit hit & miss but at least they're there and they do help!)

23 September 2011

Yeah! I am not hearing impaired at all but having difficulty understanding everything in a movie and missing something might mean you lose the whole plot. This idiotic reason about increasing issues with licensers is an absolute ***. They don't just lose hearing impaired people but they lose the majority of not english native speakers too! And it's bad for the business.

So why don't you do something? You could raise your profit, you idiots!

22 September 2011

This has come to our attention today. It makes no sense! They have licence to show the film and subtitles are part of the film. When you buy a DVD or Blu Ray there are subtitles - it's ridiculous! Streaming movies/series with or without subtitles should make no difference. It's not fair for people who pay for the service to find out no subtitles.

You should make it very clear that there is no hard of hearing option on your service Lovefilm.

21 September 2011

I have had this problem! Signed up to Lovefilm and no subtitles for any films! Are there any alternative services that offer streaming films with subtitles?

14 February 2014
Harriet Orchard

Supposedly Netflix are implementing subtitles across the board by 2014.

Please read our full disclaimer for important information that relates to the service we provide and your use of this site.

We aim to provide free reviews and comparisons of consumer products and to keep our editorial content as objective as possible. To keep the site free, we are paid by some providers when new customers take products after they've clicked on our links. We don't allow our editorial content to be affected by those links, however we may not include all of the products available in the market. Finally, we do not submit or process any applications for any products or services and we cannot guarantee that any product or service listed on this website will be available to you. Credit providers make the final decision on whether an application for credit will be accepted.

If you would like to get in touch with us you can contact us here.