Appear – Lights, camera, green action: how the media industry can embrace sustainability

Appear – Lights, camera, green action: how the media industry can embrace sustainability

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Appear – Lights, camera, green action: how the media industry can embrace sustainability

Wed 17, 04 2024

Appear – Lights, camera, green action: how the media industry can embrace sustainability

Matthew Williams-Neale, VP Marketing, Appear

The media and entertainment industry, while a powerful force in shaping cultural narratives, also carries a hefty environmental footprint. From the colossal energy consumption of data centers to the environmental costs of physical production, the industry’s impact on the planet cannot be ignored. However, a growing tide of awareness is pushing media companies to embrace sustainability and minimize their environmental impact.

The spotlight is on sustainability

This shift towards a greener future is driven by several factors. Firstly, consumer consciousness regarding environmental issues has reached new heights. Audiences are increasingly making choices based on a company’s commitment to sustainability. Studies indicate a growing preference for brands that actively incorporate eco-friendly practices.

Secondly, the industry itself faces the consequences of climate change. Rising temperatures and extreme weather events disrupt filming schedules, damage equipment, and pose logistical challenges. Embracing sustainable practices becomes not just an ethical responsibility but also a matter of safeguarding business continuity.

For this reason, many leading broadcasters, including Sky and the BBC, are proactively adopting more sustainable practices. Sky, notably the first broadcaster targeting net-zero carbon by 2030, is pioneering carbon-neutral production, signaling a decisive shift toward environmental responsibility. In parallel, the BBC is progressing towards its own net-zero goal, cognizant of the significant emissions from broadcasting and production, and underscoring technology’s critical role in driving sustainable practices. Following these examples, other organizations are now embedding sustainability criteria into their procurement policies, declining partnerships with technology firms lacking in eco-friendly commitments. This focus on sustainability has rapidly shifted from an issue of moral superiority to being a vital part of business survival.

Appear is proud to commit to ensuring our products and their operation create the lowest impact possible on the environment. Our X Platform, a high-capacity solution for high-speed video networking, enhanced IP security and advanced compression, continually outperforms comparable competitor products in terms of CO2 emissions, packaging, energy usage, and space efficiency – proven through a major study conducted by one of our biggest customers, a large European telco.

But sustainability is not always about choosing the most sustainable product and patting yourself on the back. New operational mindsets and workflows can be adopted that offer considerable cost and efficiency savings. At NAB Show, we’re sharing how we have deployed SRT-powered primary distribution solutions to enable a major LATAM broadcaster to centralize its Master Control Room (MCR) and playout operations, reducing playout and functionality from over 13 sites across Brazil to a single site using SRT. This case study shows that investing in sustainable products is one part of the solution, but using less products overall through innovative workflows represents another big step towards a greener future.

Overcoming obstacles

Addressing this challenge requires a multi-pronged approach. A crucial step lies in adopting energy-efficient technologies throughout the media production chain. This involves investing in equipment with lower energy consumption ratings and exploring renewable energy sources to power data centers and production facilities.

Furthermore, implementing sustainable production practices is essential. This encompasses a holistic approach that considers the environmental impact of every stage of content creation. Sets can be constructed using recycled materials, props sourced from sustainable sources, and digital tools utilized to minimize the need for physical sets whenever possible.

In live contribution, Appear has designed its X20 Platform to allow for reusability at different events. To increase the functional versatility of the X20 Platform, Appear has designed its modules to have software defined functionality. This means that when a sporting event is over, a broadcaster can, for instance, change decoder modules to encoders, or vice versa, making it much more flexible to use the X Platform on future projects.

Uniting the industry’s green approach

Collaboration across the industry holds immense potential in accelerating the transition towards a sustainable future. Standardization of equipment and procedures ensures compatibility and facilitates the widespread adoption of sustainable practices. Industry associations can play a vital role in fostering collaboration by establishing best practices, conducting research on sustainable solutions, and creating platforms for knowledge sharing.

The journey towards a sustainable media industry necessitates a significant cultural shift. Educating and empowering staff at all levels is paramount. Workshops and training programs can equip personnel with the knowledge and skills required to implement sustainable practices effectively.

Embracing sustainability also requires a willingness to innovate. Investing in research and development of eco-friendly solutions specific to the industry’s needs paves the way for a more sustainable future. Exploring alternative materials, developing energy-efficient production techniques, and fostering partnerships with green technology companies are crucial steps in this direction. Organizations like the Greening of Streaming are doing great work holding media tech companies to account and offering an environment for open dialogue and discussion around realizing a sustainable future.

Finding the right resources

The transition towards a sustainable media landscape comes with its own set of challenges. Initial investments in new technologies and revamping production processes require significant financial resources. Additionally, established workflows may need to be adapted, requiring flexibility and a willingness to embrace change.

However, the long-term benefits outweigh the initial hurdles. By adopting sustainable practices, media companies can significantly reduce their environmental footprint, contributing to a healthier planet for future generations. Furthermore, a commitment to sustainability can enhance brand reputation, attracting environmentally conscious customers and fostering positive public perception.

The media industry has a unique opportunity to leverage its vast reach and influence to champion the cause of environmental sustainability. By prioritizing energy efficiency, implementing sustainable production practices, fostering industry-wide collaboration, and embracing innovation, media companies can pave the way for a greener future. This collective effort not only safeguards the environment but also ensures the long-term viability of the industry itself.


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