Broadcaster Sky has called for greater collaboration among broadcasters to help consumers to decarbonise their lifestyles through on-air content.

Sky and the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) have published a report that sets out new behavioural science principles to guide broadcasters on helping their viewers to take action.

Sky pic

Sky is guiding broadcasters and content producers to encourage climate action

The report, “The power of TV: nudging viewers to decarbonise their lifestyles”, was launched at COP26 in Glasgow by Dana Strong, Sky Group CEO, Professor David Halpern, BIT, and Mark Strong, actor and executive producer of Sky’s Temple.

It says that broadcasters and content creators should put climate-friendly actions by real people centre stage in all areas of TV content.

Portrayals of real people are most likely to inspire audiences to change their behaviour according to BIT (41%) followed by activists (33%), and charities (32%). This ‘social modelling’ of lifestyle changes from characters and people that TV viewers can associate themselves with carries evidence of having high impact on viewer behaviour.

Crucially, this type of content should provide people with information on what to do to change their lifestyle as well as showing them how to do so.

Evidence from BIT also suggests that broadcasters and content creators should encourage positive environmental behaviours amongst children because of the important influence they have on the attitudes and behaviours of their parents.

However, broadcasters and content creators should avoid creating TV content that is fear-mongering, blaming, and preaching to TV audiences. This type of content was proven to be counter-productive and BIT conclude that it can reduce consumers’ willingness to make changes in their lifestyles.

Over 3,500 participants were interviewed in the report from the six countries in Europe where Sky operates. 70% state that they are worried about the environment and the same proportion (7 in 10) state they are willing to make lifestyle changes in order to tackle the climate crisis.

However, many respondents also said they are overwhelmed by choice and their understanding of how to make lifestyle changes to reduce their carbon impact is low. Only 16% knew what they needed to do to act sustainably, while just 2 in 10 people said they know how to recycle or save energy at home.

The study also found 80% of people across Europe support the idea of broadcasters using content and advertising to encourage people to adopt more environmentally positive behaviours.

Of those asked, 3 in 4 survey participants support TV broadcasters ‘nudging’ viewers to think about the environment, whether that’s through documentaries, advertising or increasing the coverage of environmental issues in the news.

Strong said: “We’re publishing these research results in full as an open tool for content creators and broadcasters. This means that for the first time we have empirical evidence demonstrating how the creative industries can work together to deliver the behaviour change required to meet our net zero ambitions.”

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