Able launched Earcatch in Aotearoa a year ago – a New Zealand-based library of audio description (AD) made available for users to access and enjoy shows on TVNZ+ on demand. With a lack of audio description capability on our local streaming platforms, the launch was very much welcomed by the blind and low vision community. How it worked: Earcatch synced the AD track played on the app with the show you play on another device via TVNZ+. Essentially, they spoke to each other.

We were able to introduce Earcatch in partnership with TVNZ+ and with the support of one-year of funding from the Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage via their Cultural Sector Regeneration Fund. The funding supported us to upload audio description for local shows like Testify, Taskmaster NZ, Kid Sister, One Lane Bridge and After the Party for viewers to enjoy in their own time. 

The funding made it possible for us to upload episodes to the app for a year. In that time, we’ve uploaded over 500 episodes over 80 titles!

However, as our CE Dan Buckingham signalled last year, Able always saw Earcatch as a “short-term solution”. This is for many reasons. It added an extra step to a service that should be as easy as toggling on and off (in a similar way to how captions are delivered) and, sadly, wasn’t always easy for people to navigate. We were also only able to upload a limited amount of local content on the app, meaning Earcatch users were still missing out on a wide variety of shows. 

Unfortunately, those reasons have ultimately led to Able ending our licence with Earcatch and discontinuing uploading new shows to the app from June 2024.

Now for a bit of good news! Earcatch has generously agreed to keep the app open for New Zealand users, housing the content we’ve already uploaded indefinitely. This means the app will still be open to download, access and use for AD users. Yep – all the episodes over 80+ seasons of shows will continue to be available to play and sync with TVNZ+.

We understand this may be disappointing for Earcatch users to hear. We’d like to reiterate that we still believe it’s important that AD users are not left behind as the way we consume content increasingly moves towards the digital.

We are committed to doing what we can to ensure local broadcasters understand the importance of implementing audio description capability on streaming platforms such as TVNZ+ and ThreeNow. It is 2024, and we believe AD users deserve to watch television in the same way so many of us enjoy and take for granted. 

We would like to thank everyone who helped Able to secure this funding, especially the blind and low vision community for their valuable support, feedback and uptake of this service.

How to use Earcatch

Download the Earcatch app for Android

Download the Earcatch app for Apple

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