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Sky dramatically reduces carbon footprint for Ryder Cup coverage

Sky Sports' director of golf Jason Wessely talks to TVBEurope about the broadcaster's coverage of this year's event

After a year’s postponement, the 2020 Ryder Cup between the United States and Europe tees off in Haven, Wisconsin on Friday.

Once again, Sky Sports will be bringing fans all the action with 68 hours of live preview coverage on the dedicated Sky Sports Ryder Cup channel.

For the first time this will involve a unified output with Golf Channel’s Live From The Ryder Cup in the days before the event, as well as two-hour build-ups to live coverage each day. The collaboration will involve Sky’s talent linking to NBC talent in Haven.

Then, 20 minutes before the first tee shot, Sky’s coverage will move to a bespoke team of commentators including Nick Dougherty, Ewen Murray, Laura Davies, Butch Harmon, Paul McGinley, Rob Lee and Rich Beem.

Andrew Coltart, Rich Beem, Wayne Riley, Tim Barter and Henni Koyack will be on the course with the matches. UK viewers will also see the Ryder Cup Brunch discussion and highlights show on Saturday and Sunday mornings presented by Sarah Stirk with Beef Johnston and David Howell.

Covering all of the different foursomes and singles across the three days is no mean feat. Fans will be able to watch a ‘featured group’ stream on and the red button which follows a group for each of the five sessions. This is also available on the Sky Sports Golf YouTube Channel for the first two days.

In terms of the actual pictures, Sky will be taking a European Tour world feed, which in turn utilises the main NBC coverage and adds extra shots from NBC camera feeds and separate cameras, Sky’s director of golf Jason Wessely tells TVBEurope. NBC will share the wire cam, drone shots, jib moves and virtual course graphics. Sky and NBC follow a protocol for post-match interviews, sharing when necessary.

Both captains will hope to have their hands on the trophy come Sunday evening

Among the broadcaster’s technological innovations for the tournament is Trackmen Players, which enables it to show 3D images of the players that will appear in the studio as if they were real. “These are all filmed against green screen on site at the Ryder Cup with all 24 players and two captains and brings the player pairings to life in an engaging way. There is also a touchscreen in the Sky Studio which activates video clips, graphics, stats and course fly-overs,” adds Wessely.

The biggest difference in terms of the production for this year’s event compared to 2016’s Ryder Cup in Minnesota is the huge reduction in Sky’s production team flying to the United States. “The main production gallery is back at Sky in the UK,” says Wessely. “Commentary is split between remote booths in the UK and on site. There is a production hub truck on site which feeds over 40 signals back to the UK gallery which then cuts the master coverage, adding our own commentary, graphics and inserts. Most talent are on site but there are two remote commentators in London and Butch Harmon is in his Las Vegas home.

“The Ryder Cup is an albert Certified production,” he adds. “In previous years, Sky has flown over 150 personnel to Ryder Cup OBs, but this year it is just 20 transatlantic flights and a utilisation of more American-based personnel. Sky Studios is the main production facility for the Ryder Cup coverage and is a carbon neutral building.”

Asked what he thinks is the most exciting aspect of Sky’s coverage of the Ryder Cup 2021, Wessely says it’s the fact that the commentary team are mostly on site for the first time this year, with on-course commentators following each group. “You cannot substitute for our team being on site, talking to players, walking the course, feeling the conditions, researching stories and insights first-hand,” he adds.

And who will win? “I’ll leave that to our experts to predict,” laughs Wessely. “But I am hoping for a European win 14.5 to 13.5, with Shane Lowry holing the winning putt on the final hole in the final match. Although just saying that is making me very nervous and excited!”