Sustainability in the Broadcast Industry 

This post was written by: Tegan Valeny

As our world becomes increasingly reliant on technology, we have to consider the environmental impact of our consumption. On Episode 12 of The Content & Media Podcast we spoke to Kristan Bullett about how we can promote sustainability in our industry. Kristan is the Founder and CEO of Humans Not Robots; a remote-first startup developing an analytics and observability platform, which works to reduce the environmental impact of online video. 

As an industry, there’s a lack of awareness regarding energy consumption in streaming versus broadcast. How do you think we can change this?

Bodies like Green Streaming are doing a great job of raising awareness. They had an event at the House of Commons last year and a couple of good media interviews that offered an understanding of the significant environmental impacts of video. As consumers, we like to make sure our pockets are comfortable, but that often comes with an environmental cost. I’d like to see companies like Netflix showing that by going down the UHD subscription route, you’re having a negative effect on the environment, because of the additional encoding and CDN storage costs. They could offer packages that cost this much more, but are responsible for producing this much less carbon. It would be good to put cost side by side with the environmental impacts from a consumer perspective.

Why is it so important for workflow and analytics to be more sustainable throughout the broadcast media industry?

As an industry, we like to say that we’re very data-driven. I don’t think that’s the case. If we’re going to reduce our carbon footprint by 10% we have to stop doing some things. But, you need to be able to measure your impact to actually achieve those goals. My first point is to continue to advocate for a data-driven approach. I don’t think anyone’s really doing that. Loads of organisations jumped into the cloud, because they wanted to believe in the hype of reduced infrastructure costs and cheaper usage patterns, but they’ve had their fingers burned by it. People are moving back out of the cloud, because actually, for whatever their use case is, it didn’t make sense. Taking a data driven approach would have helped them wrap that understanding into a safety net before taking action. So I’m an advocate for data driven analytics rather than sustainability.

How can supply chains in your work be cleaner, faster and cheaper?

Everyone likes things cheaper, so there’s already a desire to pay less for things. The problem is that we’re focused on getting suppliers to charge us less, not optimising our processes so that we use less. We should do both of those things. In the usage based world though, where’s the incentive for a supplier to help you use less? There isn’t one. Lowering your own resource utilisation will save you money and use less resources, which is a win-win situation.

How do we turn these discussions into action?

There are a couple of pieces of legislation coming in the next year that penalise big companies if they don’t focus on their environmental impact. Unfortunately, that seems to work. If you hit them with a stick, they’ll try to do something about it. It would be brilliant if we could turn it the other way around. Wouldn’t it be great to have a top 100 Clean Companies list that people would try to get on? That would actively support companies who are working towards a cleaner future. 

To hear more about improving your environmental impact within the industry, tune into The Content & Media Matters Podcast here

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

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