Live Sports Streaming: A How-To Guide

Live sports streaming is a great use-case for live video broadcasting. After all, what’s the point of watching the big game if you aren’t watching it live? Due to the greater penetration of broadband Internet and mobile technologies, it’s easier than ever to stream live video.

Live sports broadcasts over television and radio have long been standard practice, but streaming via the Internet is still a relatively new form of broadcast. Many sporting associations, organizations, and leagues aren’t yet live sports streaming over the Internet. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t start live streaming sporting events to get fans cheering around the world. To get you started with live sports streaming, let’s break down step-by-step how to live stream video and equip you with some tips and considerations that apply especially to live sports streaming.

Why Live Stream?

Over the last two decades, there’s been a seismic shift in how people consume media. Dramatic declines in traditional television viewership and newspaper audiences have led to the ascendancy of the Internet as the primary media platform.

Today, more people get entertainment and consume news from the web and on mobile devices than through print media or television. The average person today spends more than double the average time online that they did just five years ago, and those numbers continue to rise.

The Internet is coming to dominate media worldwide. In many third world nations, mobile networks are leapfrogging ahead of more infrastructure-dependent and expensive technologies like TV. Internet video is especially powerful. It’s a fast, effective means of communication that engages viewers. Compared to text, people are much more likely to watch video online. And when it comes to sporting events, live streaming online presents a number of advantages.

Global Reach

The greatest benefit of live streaming is the ability to reach anyone in the world who has a sufficiently fast Internet connection. This can dramatically extend the reach of sporting events, and also help draw new partners, participants, and sponsors.

Revenue Opportunities

Here at DaCast, we have a lot of experience with live streaming revenue generation. There are two main, lucrative methods that can help you monetize live streaming: a pay-per-view model or subscription based model. These models are especially well suited for live sports streaming, making them a great fit when you’re looking for the most financially effective approach.

Choices

live sports streaming motoLive streaming is all about consumer choice and broadcaster flexibility. Viewers can tune in at any time, to any channel of their choice, without having to limit themselves to the channels that come with a cable or satellite subscription.

For broadcasters, the appeal goes even further. Live streams can be made free or can be paywalled. Geographic restrictions allow you to limit access to your streaming content in certain areas based on IP-addresses so you can comply with contract rules and licensing agreements.

If you’d like to create a more customized experience, you can even package your live streams within an app. The NHL and MLB have both done so, building apps for their streams that allow you to access multiple camera angles at once, view live scores of other games of your choice while you watch, and even watch two games at once, no matter your TV market.

Live Streaming Basics

The process of live streaming is relatively simple, requiring just a few basic elements:

  • Camera
  • Encoding Device
  • Internet Connection
  • Live Streaming Host

Each of these elements is essential for a live stream. The camera part is self-explanatory—although if your league has the budget, then you’ll want to consider having multiple cameras connected to a live switcher for a seamless, professional broadcast.

An encoding device can be relatively simple. For example, the most basic live streams are done inside your phone via apps like Periscope or Facebook Live. These video feeds are encoded inside your device and uploaded to the Internet.

However, sports require a more professional approach and better-quality cameras with zoom lenses, and this means you’ll need an external encoder. Generally this means either using a dedicated encoder (ideal for heavy-duty use) or a laptop computer with encoding software. The first option is more reliable and scalable. The second option is cheaper and a more accessible way to get started.

Next, you’ll need a solid Internet connection—generally a dedicated line with an upload speed of at least 2-5 mbps is required for HD-quality video. Sports are often broadcast at 60 frames per second, which can use extra bandwidth, so 10 mbps or higher is best practice for live sports streaming.

Video Hosting Platforms

bird live sports streamingThe last element you need for live streaming is a live streaming host, which ingests your video as it comes in from the encoder, re-encodes it into a variety of different bit-rates so it can be delivered to viewers with different Internet connection speeds, and distributes it via a worldwide network of servers known as a CDN, or content delivery network.

A live video hosting service makes sure that your content reaches viewers quickly and efficiently to reduce lag, jitter, and dropouts.

DaCast is what’s known as a “white label” video hosting service, meaning it can be quickly and easily branded to match your organization. Our platform offers “streaming as a service” and aims to minimize the technical hassles of live streaming.

Once your video has been uploaded to a host, there are a variety of ways to distribute it. The most common approach is embedding your live stream to your website. Another method for distributing your live stream is Roku, which is a popular Internet-connected TV box. It’s estimated that more than 50% of all U.S. homes use Roku or a similar device to stream video to their TV.

Video Techniques for Live Sports Streaming

When filming any sporting event, you need camera operators who are familiar with how the specific sport operates. For live sports streaming, you should employ a minimum of two cameras: one to zoom in on the site of play, and another to maintain a wider-angle on the crowd.

The other major issue you’ll need to control is camera motion. At a minimum, this means using a tripod. For higher-quality shots, you’ll want a fluid-head tripod that pans nice and clean. You may also want to consider a jib arm or track to get some camera movement in your shots.

Now that you know the basics of setting up a live stream and have some considerations in mind when it comes to successfully filming sporting events, you’re ready to step up to the plate and start live sports streaming!

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