Live sports streaming offers 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? Given the increased accessibility of broadband Internet and mobile technologies, it’s easier than ever to stream live video to viewers around the world.
Live sports broadcasts over television and radio have long been standard practice. Streaming via the internet, however, is still a relatively new form of broadcast. Within the past decade, many sporting associations, organizations, and leagues have started to do live sports streaming online. Today, live stream sports events are on the rise, and it’s a great moment to get in on the action! Even better, there are now plenty of streaming solutions available to fit the needs and budget of all kinds of broadcasters, including the Dacast streaming platform.
To get you started with live sports streaming, this article breaks down how to live stream sports successfully. In addition, we’ll equip you with some tips and considerations that apply especially to live sports streaming. First, however, let’s start with a review of why it makes good sense to live stream sports.
Why Live Stream Sports?
Over the last two decades, there’s been a seismic shift in how people consume media. In particular, dramatic declines in traditional television viewership and newspaper audiences have made the internet into the primary media platform today.
Not surprisingly, 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 than they did just five years ago. And those numbers are still on the rise.
In short, the internet has come to dominate media worldwide. Even in less developed 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 specifically, live streaming online presents a number of advantages, including:
The greatest benefit of live streaming is the ability to reach anyone in the world who has a sufficiently fast Internet connection. Live streaming technology can dramatically extend the reach of sporting events. In addition, live sports streaming can help attract new partners, participants, and sponsors.
Here at Dacast, we have a lot of experience with live streaming revenue generation. There are two key, lucrative methods to monetize your live streaming: a pay-per-view model and a subscription-based model. These models are especially well suited for live sports streaming, which makes them a great fit when you’re seeking a financially effective approach.
Streaming media 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 broadcasts, including live stream sports events, can be free or have a viewer paywall. Geographic restrictions allow you to limit access to your streaming content in certain areas based on IP-addresses. That way, 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, for example, by building apps for their streams. These apps allow viewers to access multiple camera angles at once, view live scores of other games streaming concurrently and even watch two games at once, no matter your TV market.
Live Streaming Basics
The process of live streaming is relatively simple, even for those new to the game. At a minimum, live sports streaming requires:
- a camera
- an encoding Device
- a reliable internet connection
- a live streaming host
Each of these elements is essential for a live stream. The camera component is fairly self-explanatory, and you likely want more than a webcam if you’re doing live sports streaming. If your league has the budget, then you’ll want to consider multiple cameras that connect to a live switcher for a seamless, professional broadcast.
An encoding device can be relatively simple as well. 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. You have the choice between encoding software, like the free, open-source OBS Studio, or encoding hardware, which is more complex and more expensive. Either way, your encoder takes the video content that you record on camera and converts it into a viewable format for your viewers on their devices.
However, sports generally require a more professional approach and better-quality cameras with zoom lenses. As a result, you’ll likely want to choose an external encoder. Generally, this means using a dedicated hardware 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 start live sports streaming.
In addition to the camera and encoder, you’ll need a solid internet connection. In general, we recommend a dedicated line with an upload speed of at least 2-5 mbps for HD-quality video. However, note that sports are often broadcast at 60 frames per second, which can use extra bandwidth. Therefore, 10 mbps or higher is best practice for live sports streaming whenever possible.
The Role of Video Hosting Platforms
The last element you need for live streaming is a live streaming host, like Dacast. Your chosen OVP (online video platform) ingests your video as it comes in from the encoder and re-encodes it into a variety of different bit-rates. That way, your content can reach viewers with different internet connection speeds. Your video hosting platform distributes your content to a worldwide network of servers known as a CDN, or content delivery network, located near your viewers.
In short, a live video hosting service ensures that your content reaches viewers as quickly and successfully as possible.
Dacast is what’s known as a “white-label” video hosting service, which means you can easily custom-brand your streaming content to match your organization. Our platform offers a “streaming as a service” approach, and we aim to minimize the technical hassles of live streaming.
Once you upload your video to your chosen host, there are a variety of ways to distribute it. The most common approach is to embed your live stream to your website. Another method for distributing your live stream is via Roku, a popular Internet-connected TV box. Recent studies estimate that over 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.
In addition, you’ll also need to control the camera motion. At a minimum, this means using a tripod. For higher-quality shots, you’ll want a fluid-head tripod that pans smoothly and cleanly. You may also want to consider a jib arm or track to achieve some camera movement in your shots.
Finally, make sure to test your setup onsite before you go live whenever possible. That way, you can work out any glitches ahead of time, and your viewers won’t have a negative experience on game day!
In this article, we’ve covered the basics of setting up a live stream and how to successfully film sporting events. With this info in hand, we hope you’re feeling ready to step up to the plate and start live sports streaming!
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