Sky’s revamped news channel Sky Sports News HQ launches next week. We’ve been able to get a quick first look at the new studio set up ahead of the big day – August 12 – to see what’s in store.
The new studio features a much more open space which Sky says is nearly double the size of the previous Sky Sports News studio.
As well as an 18 square-metre video wall, a new investigation desk has been set up to allow Sky Sports News presenters to deliver more in-depth coverage of breaking and emerging news stories.
Sky is placing an increased emphasis on social media with the launch of Sky Sports News HQ.
The cameras will also focus on a new social media desk, pulling in content from to add colour and comment to news stories and debates.
The social media desk itself a glowing bank of eight monitors pulling in social content from a variety of sources including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Vine. Sky Sports researchers trawling the web for the best comments and clips.
Executive Editor, Sky Sports News Andy Cairns described it as a ‘mini-GCHQ’ adding: “Often when there’s a breaking story we don’t often have a picture, because it’s just broken.
“So if we come here [pointing to the social media desk] and bring a presenter over here and say ‘let’s see what happening on social media’. We’ll still get good phoner reactions and instant reactions but we’ll be able to get a bigger world of reactions.”
Cairns added that the social desk isn’t just about adding Vines and iPhone pap shots. Twitter chatter from sports personalities can lead to talking points which can add colour to news.
“The other thing of course about Twitter, in 140 characters you only say what you want to say. What’s not said is often as interesting or more interesting,” Cairns said.
While there’s scope for trolling by letting social media influence the news – hey, it’s happened before (NSFW) – the Sky Sports team are determined not to dilute their editorial integrity.
Karen Willmington, head of studio output for Sky Sports, told Recombu that any social media-driven chatter won’t be reported as news until it’s been confirmed and properly researched.
“People are chatting about something on Twitter, whatever that might be. Take deadline day. Lionel Messi’s going to Blackburn. 20,000 people are talking about that. Rather than just say ‘there are rumours’ we’ll say ‘on social media, this is what people are saying, we’re checking out the facts.’
“One of the key things our audience research has shown us is that when things go yellow on the breaking news ticker, people believe it. So we’ve got a reputation that’s been hard-won over many years to maintain. We’ll only do that when firmly believe [in a story]. We will say ‘These are the things that people are chatting about on social media. We’re getting to the truth of that.'”
As well as potentially generating stories, viewers will be able to add comment to stories as they develop.
During our tour we noticed that the video wall featured a number of windows to all six of the Sky Sports channels, plus a rolling list of tweets from a new account with the @skysportsnewshq handle. Currently, there is what appears to be a placeholder account with that name on Twitter, which we understand will blossom into life when the new channel launches.
As well as the new social media desk, the Sky Sports News team have extensively remodelled the studio allowing for up to 11 presentations points.
We weren’t able to get a look at all of these on our tour of the new studio but hopefully our pictures will give you a better idea of how things will look when the new channel arrives on August 12.
Sky Sports 5, Sky’s new European football channel, launches on the same day and is exclusive to pay TV customers who take out the full range of Sky Sports channels. Read our guide on how to get Sky Sports 5 here as well as our breakdown of how to get the complete set of Premier League games for the 2014/15 season.