In the world of travel teams, away games and tournaments at sports complexes in other states, it’s inevitable that even the most diehard sports fan (including the dad of the first baseman on the youth ball club) is going to miss a game.
And that’s just one of the reasons we have recording and streaming of sports events. Another might be the fact that at some events, scouts for high school and college teams aren’t allowed to attend – but they want to keep an eye on specific prospects. Maybe the coach wants to record his team and do video analysis on their performance. Maybe you want your whole school to be able to watch their team play in the conference championship out of state.
Either way, you need recording and streaming services for your sports event. Of course, you may not know much about how these services work – which puts you in good company. It’s not an area of expertise for everyone (perhaps 99 percent of the population) – except for people like us, who do it for a living, and have been doing it for more than a decade. In fact, our company, Streaming Media Hosting, has been in business for 15 years. We point this out so that you understand we’ve seen a lot of changes in technology in our time, and we know what works for sports events.
The purpose of this article is to help you understand how recording and streaming works (without too much technical detail) and to teach you how to go about finding the right partner. Along the way, we’ll help you avoid the most common mistakes people make.
Recording and Streaming 101: Let’s start with the absolute basics. A sports event is recorded using a good-quality video camera and tripod (if the camera is not permanently mounted in a sports facility – which a majority of facilities don’t offer) and then simultaneously broadcast (streamed) on the Internet. That means people at home, or anywhere else, can view it with their computers, laptops, tablets, smartTVs, phones or other devices. And because it has been recorded, it also allows people to view it on demand.
Internet Access: Find out if your competition venue has internet access and if so, whether you can tap into it. You’ll need to know whether it’s hardwired or wi-fi, and if there is a charge for it. One question your live streaming partner will ask is the speed of the service. If you’re at the venue, go to a website called speedtest.net and you’ll be able to easily test your upload and download speed. (If you’re not at the venue, have your onsite contact do this.) You need speeds of at least 1000K or 1 mbps.
Service Options: If you have decided to have an event recorded and streamed, you have several options. You may choose to have the event recorded by someone from the company that is doing your live-streaming, or you may choose to use a professional who works in the area where your tournament is, who is responsible for interfacing with the streaming company (which might even be located in another state) and uploading all content to that vendor, who then sets up hosting services.
In some cases, event owners want to save money by recording events themselves; we don’t object to this but we ask people to talk with us in advance to discuss what equipment they have and what they need. For example, in addition to the camera, people will need a computer or laptop that can be used as an encoder. They will need to make sure the camera can be connected to that computer or laptop, so they’ll need the right equipment for that.
While it’s often possible to make arrangements for live-streaming at the last minute, it’s not something we advise. It’s best to start working with your vendor at least 30 days out.
Monetization: Live streaming opens up your event to a whole new audience. Every non-attending fan (or scout, for that matter) can follow the action. That brings the potential for monetization, which is the live streaming industry’s word for sales that come as a result of making viewership available. For example, in pay-per-view live streaming, there is a dollar amount attached to each potential viewer.
There are also lots of options for use of, and payment for, live streaming services. For example, our company works with some travel teams throughout the year, recording and streaming every game. There is a fee that is paid by each player to cover costs for the entire year.
If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of charging people either to watch games or to help support the cost of live streaming, look at it this way: when you go to a sports event, you pay an admission fee at the gate, or if you have season tickets, you pay in advance. This is not so different. Your vendor can help you with ideas for monetization. Remember also that live streaming opens up excellent advertising opportunities with targeted regional markets, so theoretically, the service can pay for itself.
Finding the Right Vendor: In order to find the best possible partner for your live streaming needs, you should be ready to ask the right questions. These include the following:
Can you help me do everything: production, streaming and web integration for the live event?
Can you help me monetize or password-protect the live event?
Can you record the event and have it be made instantly available in the cloud for everyone to access?
Can it be made available to all devices – desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, etc.?
Will you send personnel to our site? Alternatively, are you willing to work with a professional I will hire to do the recording onsite? What arrangements need to be made in advance between the two of you? If we elect to do the recording ourselves, what type of equipment should we get? Can we set up a test to make sure everything works the way it is supposed to?
How long has the company been in business?
Do you have experience with sports events? If so, which ones?
What is the pricing structure for your services?
Can I access some samples of your services that would be similar to what we’re trying to accomplish in our event?
Do you do revenue sharing (known as revshare in industry parlance)? Word to the wise: YouTube wants 40 percent of your revenue. A good vendor (that includes us) won’t ask for anything.
Remember too, that you can tell a lot about a company by the experience you have on the phone with them right away. After all, it’s going to come down to the kind of support you receive. When you call, you should get someone on the phone, not wind up leaving a voicemail. The company should be interested in your business. They should take the time to understand your needs and what you want to accomplish. They should be flexible about what they can do, what another professional, such as a cameraman, can do, and what you can do. They should let you know about other capabilities they have, such as helping you out with putting video on your website. A good company should inspire confidence so that you trust them with your event, and with providing the best possible experience to your at-home viewers.
Avoid this mistake: Once you’ve made the decision to pursue live streaming, it’s tempting to run out and buy the equipment. We recommend that people wait and talk to us first. Otherwise, they may buy more than they need (sometimes much more), or they may buy the wrong equipment. Save your money until you have had a discussion with your live streaming partner. In fact, you may find that you already have some of the things you need.
The opportunity to live stream your event is here now. Take advantage of it. You’ll widen your audience, increase your revenue stream and bring this exciting technology to your athletes. Find a good partner and you’re on your way to a great experience.