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There are a lot of different types of external subtitle files. Most contain textual data. That is the subtitle and a timestamp at which this subtitles is to be shown. Some of these allow for additional formatting, others don't.
  • SubRip
  • SubViewer?
  • SAMI?
  • MicroDVD?
  • VPlayer?
  • Sub Script Alpha?
  • JacoSub?
  • MPsub?

There are also subtitles which are essentially pictures instead of text. These kind of subtitles are used in DVDs, VCDs and the external VobSub? files.

  • DVD subtitles?
  • DVB sutitles?
  • Vobsub?
  • CVD?
  • OGT?

There are also some fileformats to which you can add subtitles. These include:

  • MOV?
  • MP4?
  • OGM?
  • Matroska?

It is not easy to stream subtitles. DVB or DVD subtitles encapsulated in a TS MPEG stream is your best bet.