On Saturday at the 2009 Masters, TV captions were just as likely to be placed at the top of the screen as at the bottom. For whatever reason, captions would spend some time at the top and some time at the bottom.

This problem was not an isolated occurrence. As I write this during Sunday’s dramatic playoff, bottom captions continue to disrupt the viewing experience and trade places with top captions.

Parts I and II of this video were recorded about six minutes apart. Some editing was done to remove lingering camera shots of balls in the air or balls rolling across greens. Otherwise, each part is shown essentially as it would have been seen by any other TV viewer.

It’s time we demanded higher quality service from TV networks and major multimedia producers on the Internet.

Transcript of captions

PART I: When captions are placed at the top of the screen

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When captions are placed at the top of the screen,
[00:00:03.26]

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the player's score card is fully visible,
[00:00:12.06]

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so are the putting surfaces.
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The ball and the cup can be seen clearly.
[00:00:30.70]

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The player's expression is accessible to the viewer.
[00:00:33.80]

[00:00:37.47]
Pretty good, indeed.
[00:00:43.24]

[00:00:46.40]
If only the captions weren't in ALL CAPS...
[00:00:50.10]

Captioning The 2009 Masters Golf Tournament
PART II: When captions are placed at the bottom of the screen

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When captions are placed at the bottom of the screen,
[00:00:03.26]

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so much of the action is obscured.
[00:00:05.06]

[00:00:05.07]
He makes the putt,
but we don't get to see him make it.
[00:00:08.49]

[00:00:08.50]
Player info is also partially or fully hidden.
[00:00:15.06]

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Oh wait, I think I see Tiger's 2008 record
in the tiny opening between captions.
[00:00:24.00]

[00:00:24.40]
If you're interested in watching pro golfers expertly strike
balls from beyond the rough, you'll need top-of-screen captions.
[00:00:36.09]

[00:00:38.61]
If you want to know whether Cabrera sinks this putt,
don't watch the ball or the cup (because you can't see them).
[00:00:44.82]

[00:00:44.83]
Watch his reaction. Or watch mine!
[00:00:55.03]

[00:01:00.37]
Score cards are often hard to see as well.
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[00:01:06.58]
Everything important is hidden on virtually every shot.
In captioning, it's location, location, location.
[00:01:16.44]

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Because live captions are delayed by a couple seconds,
we may not know this is Garcia until after the ball is struck.
[00:01:22.93]

[00:01:22.94]
I'm not cherry-picking examples.
When captions are placed at the bottom,
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it makes for a miserable, frustrating viewing experience.
[00:01:36.10]

[00:01:41.02]
Here's Garcia for birdie. I recognize his shirt,
and also got a glimpse of his name behind the caption bank.
[00:01:52.15]

[00:01:53.59]
The captions tell me this is Stricker now. No, wait.
That's Campbell -- the live captions are delayed.
[00:01:58.67]

[00:01:58.68]
Misplaced captions essentially ruin the viewing experience.
The action is reduced to a series of glimpses.
[00:02:06.39]

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