IBC Project Reveals It’s Possible To Green Live Video Production

(Image credit: IBC)

LONDON—Initial results of a trial aimed at determining whether live video production workflows can achieve net-zero carbon emissions in the future have found they can meet sustainability objectives and reduce the environmental impact of live production.

“Improving sustainability has become a No. 1 priority for the media and entertainment production sector,” said Andy Beale, project lead and chief engineer at BT Sport. “The future of our planet depends on a collective effort to become carbon net zero. With this IBC Accelerator project, we wanted to tangibly experiment together to understand the alternatives to traditional OB production in live sport, in order to make carbon metrics more readily available so companies can benchmark what they are doing and help motivate them to do more to reduce their own carbon footprints.”

The trial, part of IBC’s Accelerator Media Innovation Program, involved the production of the English Premier League. The league, IMG/Premier League Production and albert, an initiative of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) to support more sustainable production, worked with a project team made up of personnel from BBC Sport, BT Sport, Sky Sport, Premier League Productions and international rights holders NBCUniversal and SuperSport.

The effort involved experimenting with multi-provider cloud technologies, formats and workflows, sharing camera feeds, audio and graphics and personnel to avoid duplication and reduce travel and other energy requirements, the program said.

The trial found cloud production reduces technical infrastructure requirements for gallery production by up to 70% for some broadcasters. Cloud production also reduces the need for significant onsite technical facilities because it enables fast distribution of signals to multiple locations, it said.

The cloud workflows were deployed alongside a traditional Outside Broadcast (OB) production setup to compare and contrast carbon footprints during a proof-of-concept demonstration at the Premier League game Dec. 16, 2021, between Liverpool and Newcastle United, it said.

The project will continue with research to identify ways to reduce the carbon footprint of live productions and development of industry benchmarks and measurable insights. Six media and technology vendors provided technology to power the effort, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Blackbird Hitomi, Microsoft, M2A Media, Singular.Live and Zixi.

“Reducing the carbon emissions attributed to the production of our sports programming is of great importance – and a major part of Sky’s ambitions to achieve its goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2030,” said Inga Ruehl, executive director of production services and operations at Sky. “The promising results from the trial show that the industry goal of a drastic reduction of emissions through means, such as cloud production workflows, is very much attainable. If the industry continues to work together towards this goal it can make a huge difference.”

Key findings of the project are available as on-demand video content from IBC Digital (opens in new tab).

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.