24 August 2023 – To offer children and teenage football viewers an additional experience appropriate for their age, Sky introduced a new concept in Germany last season: Sky Next Generation.
When the media partner approached the DFL in 2022 suggesting the joint creation of a football broadcasting format for kids, the idea was well-receievd. In past years, the DFL had implemented a number of projects heading in a similar direction: For example, in 2020 the DFL launched a digital content marketing initiative to attract younger users to the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 through video-focused offerings. In February 2021, the DFL’s own TikTok channel went live, and the official Bundesliga App has since been stocked with increasing amounts of eye-catching short-form content. What is more, the DFL has realised several innovative broadcasting formats. For example, it was the first league organisation to offer a full-length 9:16 TikTok live stream, jointly with SAT.1 and their German sport broadcast label ‘ran’, on the occasion of the 2021 Supercup. A great success, the project was repeated for the 2023 Supercup where the stream was again very popular.
Sky Next Generation is an entirely independent live production, including dedicated staff, cameras, video clips and a production team.Alessandro Reitano, Senior Vice President Sports Production at Sky Germany.
So, Sky’s proposition came at the right time. Together the partners set the stage for the production of the additional “Sky Next Generation” feed: at selected Bundesliga top matches, children and teens appear as hosts, interviewers and co-commentators, accompanied by experienced professionals. Transmitted in parallel with the standard match reporting, this additional format delivers innovative editorial elements designed specifically for kids. Sky Next Generation was first implemented for the ‘Klassiker’ match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern München in October 2022. The next fixtures included 1. FC Köln against SV Werder Bremen in January 2023, RB Leipzig against 1. FC Union Berlin in mid-February 2023, and the ‘Revierderby’ between FC Schalke 04 and Borussia Dortmund in March 2023. As part of the 2023-24 season, Bundesliga fans both little and big can again look forward to the continuation of the format.
Sky handles the conceptual development as well as the graphical design, specifically addressing the young audience and investing plenty of creativity in these productions. The programme is not limited solely to the 90 minutes of playing time. “Sky Next Generation is an entirely independent live production, including dedicated staff, cameras, video clips and a production team that puts it all together. All of this is implemented in addition to the usual live broadcast,” describes Alessandro Reitano, Senior Vice President Sports Production at Sky Germany.
There are pre-match reports, giving viewers fascinating insights into the on-site TV production processes while the aspiring “future reporters” shed light on the lives of young professional footballers and accompany the preparations of the two opposing teams. Knowledge segments may be interspersed with the reporting; for example, fitness influencer Imke Salander was featured discussing healthy nutrition for athletes in a manner suitable for children. During the live match, the young commentators are supported by professionals such as Frank Buschmann and referee expert Pascal “Qualle” Martin, the latter explaining hard-to-assess situations on the pitch.
The clubs, our media partners and the DFL all share a common goal: to include also young people in our efforts to boost interest in our content. Therefore the concept of a next-generation broadcast was quickly embraced by all stakeholders.Marcus Beisiegel, effective 1 September 2023 Senior Vice President Audiovisual Rights and Media Product at DFL
“We discussed this project in depth with the clubs and established a mutual understanding of its concept. That was important to us because the clubs, our media partners and the DFL all share a common goal: to include also young people in our efforts to boost interest in our content. Therefore, the concept of a next-generation broadcast was quickly embraced by all stakeholders,” reports Marcus Beisiegel, who will take up his new position as Director of Audiovisual Rights and Media Products at the DFL from 1 September 2023. “The participating clubs responded to the idea in a very positive way and have been supporting the project on a broad basis.” The DFL granted additional rights, allowing Sky to make parts of the broadcast – especially the pre- and post-match coverage – available to non-subscribers via a wide-reaching YouTube live stream. The clubs contribute by providing additional interview partners specifically for the young reporters. There are therefore a number of additional workstreams for the production teams, from achieving agreement about the content through to preparing the ground for technical and organisational implementation; for instance, special arrangements were necessary to provide space for the kid reporters and their camera teams close to the pitch. “Our thorough preparations enabled smooth coordination of Sky’s concept with the technical implementation by DFL,” Beisiegel points out.
While the Bundesliga was in its summer break, Sky Next Generation expanded into motor sport: For the first time, the format was implemented in a Formula One broadcast. During the Hungarian Grand Prix, the young reporters spent the entire racing weekend conducting interviews on and next to the race track and delivering live commentary throughout the race. It is an unforgettable experience for the young talents, and a broadcast format that is sure to ignite the younger generations’ interest in thrilling and captivating professional sport reporting, today and tomorrow.