If you’ve ever watched Sky Sports News, you’ll likely be familiar with the twice annual event known as Deadline Day. As the last day of the transfer window, Deadline Day has always been one of the busiest events on the channel, with reporters littered across the country and a revolving door of studio guests, ensuring coverage from dawn to dusk until Jim White announces that the window has slammed shut.
Last year’s summer Deadline Day – which actually happened in October, was the most sustainably produced ever. Presenters were encouraged to travel to locations via public transport and reporters who lived locally to grounds were used to cover those stories. Some reporters covered a cluster of clubs in one area too. Energy consumption was reduced by powering down equipment in between live reports and all staff working on the production were encouraged to go meat-free.
2020 saw Sky become the first broadcaster to sign up to the UN’s ‘Sports for Climate Action’ Framework
Perhaps most importantly, many of these changes were noticeable to the viewer. Reporting from home and less studio guests is something COVID has made audiences familiar with recently, but Sky made it clear that these efforts were environmentally driven. Sky Zero is the company’s ambition to be net zero carbon by 2030 and to use their vast platform and reach to spread the word and educate their viewers. 2020 saw Sky become the first broadcaster to sign up to the UN’s ‘Sports for Climate Action’ Framework and become a founding member of the Albert Sports Consortium, cementing their commitment to environmentally conscious productions.
An on-site power sharing agreement between Sky Sports, BT Sport and Premier League Productions has led to a carbon saving of around 50 tonnes in 6 months
Albert describe themselves as ‘the authority on environmental sustainability for film and TV.’ They make resources and provide training to help media productions to be more environmentally friendly. In July 2020, they launched their Sports Consortium including Sky, BT Sport, Premier League Productions and F1, as well as the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, with the intention of exploring and acting upon the impact of sports broadcasting on the environment. Such cooperation between different production groups is a clear solution to reducing emissions – an on-site power sharing agreement between Sky Sports, BT Sport and Premier League Productions has led to a carbon saving of around 50 tonnes in 6 months.
BT Sport began airing in 2013, and so is a newer broadcaster in comparison to Sky, but they are on a mission to be the greenest in the UK. Where Sky Sports market themselves as the home of the Premier League, BT Sport has established itself as the home of European football covering the Bundesliga and France’s Ligue 1, as well as the Champions League and Europa League. With the subject of their coverage being so vast and distant, there was great potential for such broadcasts to carry a heavy environmental cost.
But, as part of their environmental efforts, BT Sport’s 6 areas of focus include working remotely, as they put it, to ‘embrace the new routines [that COVID has introduced] and celebrate its positive environmental impact’, alongside removing anything from their workflow that harms the environment and reaching out to their audience to share their work and what they can do to help too. The BT Group as a whole is aiming to be a net zero carbon emission business by 2045.
If we want to continue enjoying the coverage of sport we have become accustomed to, then consciously sustainable productions are the way to go. The sports broadcast industry is vast and, therefore, it can play a significant role in the solution to reducing our impact on the environment. It is encouraging to see broadcasters embrace this role and be proud to be rising to the challenge. So, the next time you’re enjoying coverage of a game or catching up on sports news, look out for the Albert certification logo on the end screen, or a guest who braved Zoom to share insight or reporting, knowing that it’s all having a positive impact on the planet.
This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.
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