Sky has overhauled the way it displays programmes’ end credits, after research found three-quarters of its own viewers believe that these are important for actors.
Equity has campaigned since 2004 against onscreen credits being squeezed – a practice it claims can damage a performer’s future employment prospects – and is now urging other UK broadcasters to follow suit.
The changes at Sky, which happened after Equity approached all broadcasters with its concerns, mean end credits on programmes commissioned and acquired from this month will be given significantly more space to be displayed onscreen. Previously, a programme’s credits were squeezed into a small box in the right hand corner of the screen, while a trailer for what was coming up was shown.
Sophie Turner Laing, managing director of entertainment, news and broadcast operations at Sky, said: “When Equity raised the issue of end credits with us, it was important to address their concerns comprehensively and quickly. We spoke to our customers, and their suggestions were instrumental in shaping the changes that we have made to end credits on all our channels. It’s clear that this is an important issue to Equity members and our customers alike, and we’re delighted to have implemented a new strategy onscreen that works for everyone.”
Sky conducted a survey gauging viewers’ attitude towards credits after Equity presented it with research highlighting how the general public dislikes information being unreadable at a programme’s end.
Sky’s own research backed this, and found more than a third of its customers – 36% – like to read end credits, and 39% feel they are “important” for viewers. About three-quarters of its viewers – 71% – also say “end credits are important for actors”.
According to the survey, 77% are interested in finding out which actors were in the programme they have watched, with 44% saying they want to know who has directed a show. Two-thirds believe squeezing credits makes them hard to read, and half say they become “very annoyed” when credits are difficult to see.
More than 50% say they would like a show’s end credits to fill the whole screen. Respondents say they feel frustrated by credits being run too fast or squeezed to advertise upcoming programmes.
Responding to Sky’s actions, Equity spokesman Martin Brown said: “Equity is delighted. Sky listened to their viewers and then took decisive action. This will be applauded by Equity members and the viewing public alike, and we hope that other broadcasters will follow suit.”
Equity’s findings from its own survey of more than 10,000 viewers, published in February, revealed 95.2% of viewers felt splitting a screen at the end of a programme, often to advertise something coming up next, made it hard to read the names of people involved in a production. The report also found that squeezed credits made 89% of people “very annoyed”.
At the time, Equity general secretary Christine Payne said there was “very little comfort for broadcasters” in the findings. The union said Sky is the first broadcaster to take direct action as a result of the campaign.