AI Subtitling at SVT in Sweden

Stuart Russell
November 21, 2023

SVT (Sveriges Television AB) is Sweden’s national public TV broadcaster, serving Sweden’s population of just over 10.6M with a mix of news and entertainment programming. SVT is funded via a public service tax on personal income that is set by Sweden’s national parliament, and the broadcaster therefore has a very strong public service remit that goes beyond profitability. SVT has a long history of adopting new technologies and SVT Play – the broadcaster’s digital video offering launched in 2006 – is the third most watched digital platform in the country after YouTube and Netflix. Initially for the news desk and now expanding into other areas, SVT turned to Limecraft to deliver AI assisted subtitling.

Newsdesk at SVT showing how Limecraft is used for AI subtitling

Key takeaways

  • 1200 named users.
  • 7500 items per month adding up to 500 hours of short-form content.
  • 5000 hours of manual work saved per month.
  • processing using Speechmatics‘ Swedish Automatic Speech Recognition and Limecraft’s AI spotting
  • seamlessly integrated into the Avid production environment.

The challenge

SVT has always been keenly aware of the need to improve the accessibility and reach of its content for people with hearing/sight impairment or those unable to use audio, and the broadcaster previously committed to providing subtitles or captions for 95% of its content. As an additional benefit, subtitles also help with search engine optimisation (SEO), making content easier to find. This commitment brought a very particular set of challenges, however.

SVT has traditionally generated around 500 pieces of content a month. As part of their ‘Digital First’ strategy, an increasing amount of SVT’s output is now short-form, which is more fast-paced and fragmented than longer-form. Unfortunately, however, a traditional subtitling process is very manual and time-consuming, while short-form content requires a fast turnaround. With journalists and short-form creators increasingly having to take responsibility for subtitling, it became clear that SVT needed to find a better way to balance its accessibility commitments with workflow efficiency and costs.

💡 Why should you care about subtitles?

The solution

SVT has been a significant Avid customer for many years, and SVT subsequently chose to also partner with Limecraft and Woody Tech to further benefit from the past pace of technology development in the industry. Having created subtitling solutions for several other broadcasters (including VRT in Belgium and ITV in the UK), Limecraft solved SVT’s subtitling dilemma by creating a novel plugin for the native production environment that is using on Limecraft’s unique subtitling algorithm.

Thanks to this integration, users can create AI-generated broadcast-grade subtitles from transcripts with one single button press within the Avid environment, dramatically speeding up the process and improving efficiency. As a result, Limecraft has been able to save SVT thousands of hours of manual work as well helping SVT become the first broadcaster in Europe to provide subtitles for all of its on-demand news content.

An SVT team member using the Limecraft Avid plugin to create AI subtitles within the native production environment.

💡 Learn more about automatic subtitling

How Limecraft makes the difference

There are many Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) services available that segment the transcript and output an SRT file format, but that usually doesn’t mean the quality of the subtitles are suitable for prime time. Traditionally, it is the job of a subtitle professional to transliterate the reduce the transcript, replace numbers, to make sure the subtitles are placed and timed according to the proper styling rules.

As conventional ASR services such as Trint, Google Speech, or Amazon Transcribe come from an audio processing background and thus perfectly suite the purpose of automatically converting speech into text, they lack the intelligence to produce broadcast-grade subtitles.

Limecraft uses best in class ASR, which for most languages is Speechmatics, followed by intelligent segmentation. This is possible thanks to a Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithm that uses configurable spotting rules to impose a specific style guide, and to align the subtitles with rhythm of the edit. Using Limecraft, the automatically created subtitles are close to perfection and the time for post-editing is minimal.

The result

The introduction of innovative new technology is always a challenge, and change management is a critical success factor. However, this solution is a great example of technology bringing demonstrable efficiency benefits and simplifying workflows. This integration is processing around 300-400 pieces of content per month, which equates to around 2000 hours of manual work. It is also helping to save SVT Millions of Kroner per year, as well as enabling SVT to become the first broadcaster in Europe to provide subtitles for 100% of its on-demand news content – a path that other broadcasters are sure to be watching with great interest.

“The Limecraft solution has enabled us to redeploy human resource into other areas of the business and it is saving us a significant amount of money,” notes SVT’s Head of Post Production Olof Appelqvist. “This, in turn, enables us to maintain the quantity and quality of our programming without any sacrifice, as well as providing a better experience to our deaf and hearing-impaired viewers. The business case was extremely compelling, and we’ve been delighted with the implementation, with the technical support and training received from Limecraft, and with the overall result. We’re also very happy to be an early adopter of this technology, forging a path that we’re sure other broadcasters will want to follow”.

Establishing shot of the newsdesk at SVT, using Limecraft AI services for auto tagging and subtitling of news items

Looking to seamlessly integrate AI-driven subtitling into your production environment? Contact us here to discuss your needs.