Guinness and ITV make inclusive sporting history

Diageo and ITV successfully trialled live descriptive audio commentary for the Guinness Six Nations

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director Creativebrief


In a media first, Guinness and ITV have made sporting history by trialling live descriptive audio commentary for the Guinness Six Nations.

The move is part of an ongoing drive to make the Guinness Six Nations 2024 Championship the most inclusive yet, supported by Creative Equals.

Alongside both ITV and union partners the organisation is taking action to improve both the at-home and in-stadium viewing experience for people with both physical and less apparent disabilities.

At Guinness, we believe that creating a collective community will accelerate change so we are working with our partners and fans, as part of our wider Never Settle initiative to ensure that rugby is a sport where everyone belongs.

Anna MacDonald, Marketing Director at Guinness

Inclusion drives innovation 

Recent research revealed almost a quarter (24%) of the UK population have a disability. While one in five (20%) are neurodiverse.

Yet, despite these figures many experiences and media channels are not accessible by design. According to research, 71% of the blind and visually impaired community engage with sport through TV and radio but aren’t able to fully experience the game at home with standard commentary and subtitles.

To help bridge this disconnect Guinness has partnered with ITV to trial live audio descriptive commentary for England vs. Wales on February 10th and England vs. Ireland on March 9th as part of the Guinness Men’s Six Nations 2024 tournament.

Anna MacDonald, Marketing Director at Guinness, explained: “Earlier this year, Guinness announced its title partnership of the Guinness Women's and Men’s Six Nations, but our commitment to create a better society through diversity and inclusion has only just begun.”

She continued: “At Guinness, we believe that creating a collective community will accelerate change so we are working with our partners and fans, as part of our wider Never Settle initiative to ensure that rugby is a sport where everyone belongs. Our partnership with ITV and Creative Equals is a continuation of this dedication to ensure everyone can enjoy the game, their way” 

Diversity drives creativity 

Guinness has pulled together a top-notch commentary team to bring the project to life. The team includes Guinness ambassador, former Red Rose and rugby commentator, Danielle Waterman, well-known rugby commentator, Nick Heath and trained audio describer and rugby commentator, Dave Rogers. The trio aims to ensure blind and partially-sighted fans can enjoy every aspect of the game - from the players to the numbers on their shirts and the intricate details of every pass and tackle.

According to ITV, the project is the epitome of broadcast technology. It marks the first time this solution has been used for a UK broadcast sporting event. It can be accessed simply by turning on the audio description function. 

From awareness to action 

The move to improve broadcast accessibility stems from an initiative with Creative Equals. Guinness and its parent company Diageo have a long association with the global diversity, equality and inclusivity organisation.

Guinness has worked with one of the Creative Equals competition winners and creative consultant, Britt Sarony, as well as Verve, and specialised disability-led creative agency, With Not For. It has also worked with the sponsorship and experiential agency, Live Agency, to provide additional training and toolkits for stadium staff.

As part of this training focus staff have been provided with the latest resources to ensure they are equipped with the skills and tools they need to support disabled and Neurodivergent fans.

Guinness will also be increasing the focus on providing sensory rooms and fan resources across Twickenham, Scottish Gas Murrayfield and Principality Stadiums. This will include providing fidget spinners, ear plugs and stress balls to help those with invisible disabilities such as Autism, ADHD and Tourettes feel less overwhelmed on game day.

Mark Trinder, Director of Commercial Sales and Partnerships at ITV, explained: “The Guinness Six Nations is a huge sporting and broadcast event and at ITV we want to make sure our coverage is as accessible as possible to as big an audience as possible.”

He continued: “Through partnering with Guinness on this trial to ensure alternative visually descriptive commentary, we're continuing to evolve both how we work with brand partners and our broadcast and technology offering to bring the best experience to our viewers."

While the marketing industry has a long-standing love for a ‘media first’ this project is a powerful reminder of the importance of harnessing the power of inclusion for innovation.

Sonali Rai, Media, Culture and Immersive Technologies Senior Manager at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), added: “It is really encouraging to see ITV and Guinness taking the steps to include live descriptive commentary for this weekend’s coverage of the Six Nations. Simple steps like these make a huge difference to blind and partially sighted people – it breaks down a barrier that would otherwise prevent them from enjoying the game in the same way as their sighted peers."

The role of sports in breaking down barriers and bringing people together through collaboration and creativity has never been more apparent.

Related Tags

Inclusion Sports