Television and on-demand programme services: Access services report 2018

Cyhoeddwyd: 25 Mai 2023
Diweddarwyd diwethaf: 16 Mehefin 2023

Television and on-demand programme services: Access services report 2018

This report sets out the extent to which broadcast television channels and on-demand programme services (“ODPS”) carried subtitles, audio description and/or signing (collectively, “access services”) across the calendar year 2018.

The report allows consumers to compare the extent to which traditional broadcast television and catch-up or on-demand services are accessible to people with sight and/or hearing impairments.

The statutory rules for broadcast services are different to those for on-demand services. Under the Communications Act 2003, broadcast television channels are required to make a certain proportion of their programmes accessible; the Code on Television Access Services sets out these obligations.

For on-demand (including catch-up) services, there has been no legal requirement to provide access services. However, the Digital Economy Act 2017 paves the way for such requirements. In December 2018 we gave our recommendations to Government on drafting regulations to improve the accessibility of ODPS.

All but one channel met or exceeded their requirements. The channel 5Star fell 0.8% short of its 80% subtitling requirement. Taking account of the comparatively small size of this shortfall, and the channel’s commitment to making it up during 2019, we do not intend to take any regulatory action at this time.

Domestic channels with an audience share of between 0.05% and 1% have the option either to broadcast 45 minutes of sign-presented programming each month or to participate in Ofcom-approved alternative arrangements which contribute to the availability of sign-presented programming. Where "Alt" is shown in the report, this indicates that the broadcaster contributed to the British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust (BSLBT), which commissions sign-presented programming and is broadcast on the channels Film4 and Together.

2018 saw the introduction of new rules for non-domestic broadcasters which require them to meet their signing obligation by either broadcasting sign-presented or sign-interpreted programming or by providing 10% additional subtitling. All channels successfully met these new requirements.

Ofcom regulates a wide range of ODPS, including public service broadcasters’ catch-up services, subscription film services and local TV archives.

Over the course of 2018 the proportion of ODPS providers offering subtitles (on at least one of their services) rose from 51.4%[1] in the first half to 57.8% in the latter half of the year. The proportion of providers offering audio description declined from 16.7% to 15.3% while the proportion of providers offering signing remained constant at 6.9%.

While accessibility varies greatly depending on the platform used to view the on-demand service, 2018 saw small improvements in accessibility across a variety of platform types. 35% of on-demand services available in the UK provided subtitles on their own websites in the second half of 2018, up from 26% in the first half of the year. 33% of on-demand services provided subtitles on set-top boxes (e.g. FreeView, Sky Q) and streaming sticks (e.g. Amazon Fire, Google Chromecast), up from 26%. 25% of services provided subtitles on mobile apps (up from 19%), 14% of on-demand services provided subtitles on connected TVs (up from 7%), and 7% of services provided subtitles on games consoles (the same as in the first half of the year).

Despite these small increases, there remain only a limited number of ODPS which offer subtitles when viewed on some popular platforms. In the second half of 2018, only six on-demand services were available on Sky (down from seven), five on Virgin (up from three) and three on Freeview Play (the same as in the first half of the year).

Across those ODPS that do offer access services, on the platforms where these access services are supported, the percentage of accessible programming remained fairly constant: in the second half of 2018, 61.8% of programming on these services was subtitled, 7.9% was audio described, and 1% was signed.

Figure 1 below gives more detail on audio described content, for ease of use with screen readers. Please see the interactive report for further information on the provision of all access services.

Figure 1: Proportion of programme hours available with audio description July-December 2018. *Turner’s figures show AD provided to platforms but not necessarily played out to consumers.

January to July 2018July to December 2018

Arsenal Player

25.0% (website and app)

25.0% (website and app)

All 4

25.8% (Android app)

25.3% (website)

26.5% (Android app)

26.0% (website)

BFI Player

0.5% (website)

0.5% (website)

0.5% (Samsung TV)


0.4% (BT TV and YouView)

0.4% (BT TV and YouView)

CBS Reality Drama Action Horror Channel


11.1% (Virgin TV)

Dplay Entertainment (Sweden)




11.3% (Android app)

20.3% (Android app)

My 5

9.3-9.8% (All platforms except Sky and Virgin)

8.6% (website and app)

9.2% (Apple TV)


2.6% (BT TV)


Shorts International

19.8%-36.7% (all available platforms)


Shorts TV


21.5% - 42.2% (Google Play, Tunes EST, Amazon Germany EST, Amazon UK EST)

Sky ‘push’ content



Turner Northern Europe*

10.9% (BT TV), 21.7% (Now TV, Sky On-demand), 9.4% (Virgin TV), 10% (TalkTalk TV)

16.5% (BT TV), 23.3% (Now TV), 23.3% (Sky On-Demand), 21.1% (Virgin TV), 11.1% (TalkTalk TV)

[1] Figures for the first half of 2018 may differ slightly from our previous report on this period as they are adjusted to account for later submissions

We have provided this report in an interactive form so that consumers can compare the accessibility of broadcast and on-demand services across a variety of platforms. In addition to the report we have provided excel spreadsheets containing the full data set. If you have accessibility requirements which are not met by these publications, and would like to request information in a different format, you can email or call our Advisory Team from Monday to Friday between 09:00 and 17:00 on 020 7981 3040 or 0300 123 3333. If you are deaf or speech-impaired, you can use our textphone numbers, which are 020 7981 3043 or 0300 123 2024.

Full interactive report

For the best experience, expand to full screen (click on the button in the bottom right corner).

Yn ôl i'r brig