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Change is in the air: broadcasters playing their part for greener games


European sports broadcasters BT Sport and RTL are committed to using greener production techniques and are showcasing new approaches to live broadcasting at this week’s UEFA club competitions, with the aim of reducing their carbon emissions by 2030.

UEFA Youth League game between Tottenham Hotspur and Sporting Clube de Portugal.
UEFA Youth League game between Tottenham Hotspur and Sporting Clube de Portugal. UEFA

In line with our Football Sustainability strategy 2030 and as part of multiple sustainability initiatives around matchday 5 of our club competitions, we have teamed up with broadcast partners BT Sport and RTL Germany to test cloud-based technology and more sustainable production operations at selected “Greener Games” in the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Youth League.

Historically, the broadcast industry is energy- and resource-intensive, as it requires extensive on-site technical equipment, infrastructure, and personnel for each live event. Nowadays, more and more sports broadcasters are looking into new solutions to supply greener live footage, switching to cloud-based remote transmission, a technology reducing the need of an on-site crew by 50% and cutting down the amount of technical infrastructure required for gallery productions by up to 70%.

Applied to football, these improvements can significantly reduce a match’s carbon emissions and pave the way for more sustainable live broadcasting. BT Sport aims to become the greenest broadcaster in the UK while RTL plans on being climate neutral by 2030 with 50% emissions reduction.

Guy-Laurent Epstein, UEFA Marketing Director

“The broadcasting industry is in the midst of a transition period, moving from traditional broadcasting technology to IP (Internet Protocol address), also providing great opportunities to re-design workflows for remote and cloud productions. These changes come with greater attention to sustainability concerns and UEFA is delighted to work with visionary TV partners such as BT and RTL, who are bringing innovative and sustainable technologies to UEFA competitions.”

UEFA's Football Sustainability Strategy

UEFA Club Competitions pilot matches

Certified by the Albert carbon neutral label, BT Sport this week used a multicamera remote production system at the Youth League game between Tottenham Hotspur and Sporting Clube de Portugal. The technology highlights future opportunities and improvements in the use of cloud platforms and CO2 emissions data collection.

Remote Production System at BT Sport
Remote Production System at BT Sport UEFA

BT Sport successfully broadcast the Youth League game as a complete cloud production, demonstrating the reliability of the approach as well as the pioneer spirit of the competition, which provides a platform for the stars of tomorrow to gain important experience against their continental counterparts.

Compared with Tottenham Hotspur’s previous home Youth League group stage match (against Eintracht Frankfurt on October 12), the carbon footprint generated by the cloud-based production of the matchday 5 Youth League clash was 25% lower.

RTL Germany has already run successful pilot schemes across different live sports events such as Formula 1, deploying remote operations from RTL HQ in Cologne. As part of their commitment to sustainable production, RTL selected the Europa League matches between SC Braga and FC Union Berlin as well as between SC Freiburg and Olympiacos FC to be part of their important green production programme.

Further matches could now be added under the “greener games” banner, with the aim of adding more cloud productions in the future and encouraging more UEFA Host Broadcasters to get involved in making their on-site productions significantly greener.

Cloud UEFA Youth League Production
Cloud UEFA Youth League ProductionBT Sport

Green motion certification

RTL Germany follows minimum ecological standards known as “Green motion certification”. This label sets minimum standards for climate-friendly and resource-saving production methods in the cinema and broadcasting industries. Experts assess companies’ compliance with sustainability criteria by requiring minimum reporting guidelines and positive results on 18 out of 21 items listed such as energy, travel, waste, use of resources etc.

Players joining the movement

Broadcasters aren’t the only actors of change present at this week’s UEFA matches. Union Berlin midfielder Morten Thorsby is the founder of We Play Green, an independent and non-profit player foundation committed to creating more sustainable attitudes and actions around football. He is convinced that the beautiful game can and should be sustainable, be it on the pitch, in the stands or behind the camera.

Morten Thorsby, Founder of We Play Green

"We Play Green is pleased to collaborate with UEFA and RTL Germany regarding the UEFA Club Competitions Greener Games Initiative. We are eager to build momentum and support for the green shift across all stakeholder areas so we can ensure future play is possible."