Sky brings forward launch of virtual production suite in response to Covid-19

Sky VPS already used on 35 productions including The Football Show and cricket ‘watchalongs'.

by Sam Carp

Sky brings forward launch of virtual production suite in response to Covid-19
  • Sky VPS involved in 200 hours of live linear transmission since UK lockdown
  • Broadcaster has ‘no plans’ to abandon remote production after Covid-19
  • Employees can use system on laptops, tablets and mobile phones

Sky Production Services, the in-house unit of the British broadcasting giant, has unveiled a new virtual production suite which it says has been used on as many as 35 shows since being rolled out in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Launched ten days into the UK lockdown, which commenced on 23rd March, Sky VPS initially utilised a gallery box tool seen during pay-TV network Sky Sports’ broadcasts of ‘The Football Show’ and ‘watchalongs’ of memorable sporting events, which were introduced in the absence of live sport. 

In the time since launch, Sky VPS has ‘transformed into a scalable, virtualised platform’, Sky said, covering live production such as graphics, social media and contribution platforms, as well as editing, audio and web clipping solutions, all of which are hosted in a virtual private cloud.

Sky described Sky VPS as a ‘completely safe content production environment’ capable of supporting remote working, cloud technology and flexible scaling. The platform is operational using laptops, tablets and mobile phones, and does not require equipment to be sent out.

Sky VPS was originally due to be completed ‘years down the line’, according to Sky, but was brought forward as a result of the pandemic and ‘the immediate need for safe and socially distant content production’. 

James Clement, Sky Production Services’ director of operations, said the “primary goal” of launching the platform was “giving our teams the ability to continue working safely with innovative tech”.

Other productions the platform has been involved with include Sky’s coverage of the Premier League’s esports competition, which reached a global audience of over 150 million viewers and achieved 85.9 million views of live clips across all platforms.

To date, Sky VPS has been involved in 200 hours of live linear transmission and hundreds of hours of pre-recorded programming on various channels across Sky Sports, Sky News and Sky Arts.

Sky said it has ‘no plans’ to stop using Sky VPS in the wake of Covid-19, adding that the platform will ‘continue to be utilised and further developed’.

Ben Burdon, the studio manager at Sky Production Services, said: “The accessibility of VPS will allow us to be inclusive of the widest possible group of creatives and technicians, enabling us to join together to make great content again wherever we are located and with whatever technology we have to hand.”