B-Roll to VO/SOT: Definitions of Common TV Broadcasting Terms

Television crew interviewing a man outdoors
••• Bob Thomas / Getty Images

If you're new to television news broadcasting production, then the acronyms VO, Nat SOT or VO/SOT might seem like a foreign language. 

The truth of the matter is that it really is a different language. And if you are going to be involved in any aspect of the production of TV or video broadcasts, then it's key to get to know some of the most commonly used terms and phrases.

Definitions of Common Television Broadcasting Terms

It's important to note that the glossary of terms used in broadcast journalism is vast. Below is just a short list of the most common TV broadcasting terms (which may not be used in radio). Definitions appear in alphabetical order:

  • B-roll: This refers to video that is used to visualize the script that a reporter or news anchor has written. It is solely shot for a TV news story.
  • EZ News: This is a newsroom computer software that allows you to:
    • Create rundowns of the news
    • Write newscasts and scripts
    • Print scripts
    • Have a teleprompter 
    • Integrate wire feed data, RSS feeds from services, networks, etc.
  • Natural sound (Nat Sound, Nat SOT) or ambient sound: This refers to creating a sound bed for a recorded or live report with music, background voices, vehicles and machinery, nature sounds and other environmental sounds recorded on scene. These sounds are most often used to set the mood or provide atmosphere for a specific news report. 
  • Nielsen: This is an audience measurement system used to determine the audience size and composition of television programming in the United States. Nielsen ratings are used to determine television ratings.
  • Live shot or live report: This is a type of newscast where a news anchor or reporter is live at a remote location. This type of report can also include a SOT, VO/SOT or PKG (see acronyms below).
  • On-set appearance: This is an appearance on set by a reporter who is introduced by a news anchor. The reporter then introduces her news package or reports her story from there.
  • Package (PKG): A package is a report from a correspondent that contains a sound bite that is usually inserted after the reporter's second or third sentence. 
  • Sound bite (SOT): A sound bite or SOT is an edited slice of speech from a newsmaker. In television broadcasts, the person can be seen and often different SOT can be spliced together and edited to cover the video. 
  • Stand-up: When a reporter is seen reading or presenting information on screen, as part of package, it is known as a stand-up.
  • Voiceover (VO): This refers to playing a video of a TV news story while a news anchor or reporter reads a script live.
  • Voiceover-to-sound(VO/SOT): A VO/SOT can be called by many different names. Sometimes called a V.O. bite, VOB, VObite or VObyte, it is a script read live by the news anchor. While the anchor reads, video is shown. The anchor will stop reading at a certain point so that an interview clip can be played. Usually, VO/SOTs are 30 seconds to 45 seconds in length. You'll find this type of storytelling on stories that can be told quickly but need a soundbite from an authority figure or eyewitness. The soundbite portion of the story usually runs 10 seconds to 15 seconds.