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Sky News: OTT platforms helping to enrich 24 hour coverage

Hugh Westbrook, Head of Digital Product Development, Sky News

Hugh Westbrook, Head of Digital Product Development, Sky News

From Apps World, London

During an enthralling keynote at Apps World in London yesterday, Hugh Westbrook, Head of Digital Product Development at Sky News, explained how OTT was changing Sky’s TV news journalism.

Emphasising that Sky’s various digital platforms demanded different content, Westbrook said that while short-form, breaking reports remained the biggest pull on Sky’s linear news platform, alternative examples of television journalism were thriving in others.

Westbrook explained:

“We made these long form documentaries that went out on Sky television that we found had a particular niche on Apple and Roku, where they were very heavily watched, far more so in fact than on other digital platforms where they were present but weren’t really looked at.”

Stressing the importance of editorial curation and selection, Westbrook added that OTT in no way signalled the end of 24 hour news, which would remain “the bedrock of what Sky does.” Nonetheless, reasonable integration with OTT could enrich the overall news offering and offer a more balanced service.

“One of the problems with 24 hour news is that, when you get a breaking news story, quite often, all of that beautifully crafted work can disappear. Something that’s taken a reporter a long time to make – it might have had two or three showings – but something comes along and it’s gone. The beauty of the digital platform is that it gives it longer life, and the beauty of an OTT platform is it gives it even longer life than our previous digital offerings. Those beautifully crafted pieces of work are now having a whole new lifespan, to the extent that we’re now able to commission pieces and say, ‘this is an Apple TV piece’ and reporters are happy to do that since they know that, rather than being lost in the news cycle, it will actually find a home and audience really interested in having a look at it.”

Later in the presentation, Westbrook revealed that Sky News were interested in customised news alerts, and were ultimately keen on being as many platforms as possible.

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