What is SAP on TV? Mystery Feature Explained

TVs are fun and relaxing, but sometimes you just want to step outside of your comfort zone and explore other cultures’ TV experience, with the language barrier being your main hurdle. 

That’s where the SAP feature comes in handy. What’s SAP in TV, you ask? Well, buckle up; we have a lot to cover!

What Does SAP Stand for TV?

What Does SAP Stand for TV

SAP stands for Secondary Audio Programming, a feature that allows TV viewers to substitute the original language of a show with a secondary audio.

So, if you have an upcoming trip to Spain and you want to practice a bit, you can switch your English shows to Spanish and go crazy.

Today, SAP channel is mostly used to switch English shows to other languages, but you can use it to switch foreign shows to English. 

Besides languages, this feature caters to visually impaired individuals, providing detailed descriptions of what’s happening in the frame. You can also find SAP narrations of sporting events. 

Although it’s been around for more than 30 years, big channels were required to use it to provide audio channel descriptions on a regular basis in 2010.

As you can see, the ultimate goal of this feature is to make televisions comfortable and more accessible for everyone. It’s no wonder it’s become an indispensable part of the TV experience.

How To Know If a Program Has SAP?

Most modern TVs have integrated the SAP feature. However, if you’re using Xfinity X1, don’t expect all programs to include it.

So, how do you know the ones that do?

Simple! The show’s video description also usually includes labels like “TVPG,” “HD,” and “CC.” If these labels include “SAP,” then you can expect a secondary language narration.

You can also check the audio program guide. It’ll display a small SAP icon if it offers multiple language narrations.

How To Turn ON SAP in TV?

How To Turn ON SAP on TV

There isn’t a definitive way to turn on the SAP feature; it depends on the TV you use. However, no matter the type, you’ll always find it in language/sound-related labels. 

Let’s see a few examples on how to enable sap on tv.

Digital TV

If you’re using a digital TV with an antenna, chances are you can activate SAP with the remote.

Some SANYO television remotes have a direct “Audio” button that allows you to switch languages. In other models, like PANASONIC or EMERSON, this button will be labeled “SAP.”

Some ELEMENT TV remotes have an “MTS” button that has the same function. Not all TV models give you quick access to the SAP feature with the remote, though.

If you have an LG TV, you might have to use the on-screen menu. Press the “Q.MENU” button and select “SAP,” then “Stereo” to change languages.

With Samsung TVs, for example, you’ll have to press the “Settings” button, select “Audio Options,” then “SAP.” 

Analog TV

So, you prefer analog television, using an antenna with a converter box and the good old analog TV? No worries. It’s not as convenient, but we can still make it work.

With the DTA800B converter box, you can adjust the language through the on-screen tv menu. All you have to do is press the “Menu” button on the remote, choose “AV Settings,” then “Audio Controls.” Select the “MAIN” option to switch the selected language on.

INSIGNIA converter boxes are a bit different. You still press the “Menu” button and select “AV Settings,” but then you press “Sound” and choose “Stereo” to activate SAP.

Activating the SAP feature with a DTVPAL+ converter box isn’t any different. Press the “Menu” button, then choose “Setup,” “Audio Setup,” “Audio Language,” then “Primary.” You can change audio channel languages through the “Stereo” selection.

Cable Box-Connected TV

Activating SAP when you’re using Xfinity with a cable box-connected TV is as straightforward as it gets.

It’s worth noting that all Xfinity boxes are born equal. Some give you access to SAP with one click of the “Lang” button on the remote while others make you do it manually.

In that case, you’d have to press the “Lang” button, use the numbers “2” and “8” to switch between English and Spanish, and then press “4” to exit.

Standard Receiver/DVR-Connected TV

Standard receiver/DVR-connected TVs can give you access to SAP with a few clicks:

  • Press the “Menu” button on the remote
  • Choose “Parental, Favs & Setup”
  • Select “System Setup”
  • Pick “Audio”
  • Press “Language”
  • Select the language of choice

HDR Receiver/DVR- Connected TV

Although HDR receivers/DVRs have different mechanisms, activating SAP in their connected TVs isn’t much different from the standard version:

  • Press the “Menu” button
  • Choose “Settings”
  • Pick “Audio”
  • Press “Language”
  • Select the language of choice

Set-Top Box-Connected TV

A set-top box-connected TV’s SAP feature might give more language options, but the selection process is still the same:

  • Press the “Menu” button
  • Select “Audio”
  • Choose “Audio Language Option”
  • Select the language of choice

How To Turn OFF SAP on Smart TV?

Here’s how you can turn off SAP on your smart tv:

  1. Turn your TV ON and press the “Menu” button on your TV remote control.
  2. Choose “Audio” from the list.
  3. Select the Language option in the Audio settings.
  4. Select “SAP” (maybe labeled as “MS”) and toggle it OFF from ON.

Note that you may have to choose “Stereo” or “Mono” option from the list if you didn’t see any option labeled as SAP.

What Are the Cons of Using SAP?

You’re probably thinking this SAP feature sounds too good to be true. Well, you’re right—to an extent. Despite all the linguistic value it offers, it’s not a perfect feature. 

Let’s see what that means.

Literal Dub

Dubbing isn’t just reciting the sentences of the source language in the targeted one. It’s about conveying the intended meaning and context, keeping cultural appropriation in mind. Unfortunately, with SAP, you don’t always get that.

Many have complained that the dubbing is sometimes too literal, void of the nuances of language and culture. We’re not saying it’s always bad, but we wouldn’t recommend depending on it to sharpen your listening skills.

Lack of Descriptive Details

This one goes hand-in-hand with the previous section. Just like SAP dubbing isn’t always on point, the descriptive audio description also isn’t always detailed enough.

Ultimately, the people responsible for narrating the shows get to choose what to focus on, which won’t always align with the viewers’ needs.

Poor Sound Quality

Yes, SAP dubs don’t always have the best sound quality. That’s not always the case, but sometimes, they’re made with cheap tools, resulting in poor audio tracks and an unsatisfying TV experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all tvs have SAP?

You can find SAP feature on most stereo televisions or VCRs since 1990, but the way to enable SAP programming depends on your television model.

What does SAP do on my TV?

Secondary audio programs (SPAPs) are audio channels commonly used in alternative languages and descriptive video services. DVS provides an audio description allowing for a content narration.

What is the SAP button on my LG remote?

SAP button on the LG remote allows you to turn ON and OFF the alternative audio track.

What does SAP stand for in broadcasting?

In broadcasting, SAP stands for Secondary Audio Programs.


So, the next time your friend buys a new TV and asks you: “What is SAP in TV?” You know what to say. At first glance, it seems like a simple dubbing feature, but it offers more value than that.

With audio descriptions and sports events narration, it aims to give a smooth TV experience for everyone. Yes, it has flaws, and not all programs have it, but nothing is perfect. It’s the thought that counts.

Check other related articles on Smart TVs:
1) How Far Away Should You Sit From a TV
2) Can You Use Smart TV Without Internet

Keshav Krishnan

I am an Engineer and passionate about Smart Homes and Home Improvements and spent years using, designing & working with Smart Home devices. I am on a mission to make Home Automation easy and affordable for everyone.

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