As one of the great American pastimes, watching and playing sports ranks high in popularity. Sporting events are some of the most viewed broadcasts on television. Increasingly, sports are being broadcast live over the Internet as well. Live streaming sports presents a variety of challenges, but also some amazing opportunities.
If your club, league, or organization is considering live streaming sports, you’ll have to make some serious decisions about equipment, technical platforms, monetization, and more. Let’s break down the benefits of broadcast live streaming sports, how live streaming can generate revenue for sporting events, and tips for handling any obstacles you may encounter while live streaming sports.
Live Streaming Sports
The landscape of media is changing dramatically. Television, which dominated media for nearly 50 years, is rapidly losing ground to streaming media services like Netflix and Amazon. Set-top streaming media boxes like Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Amazon Fire TV are displacing more traditional cable subscriptions in favor of Internet-based content.
Sports have always been a huge component of television, making up nearly 40% of all TV viewing. However, professionals are recognizing that the market is shifting. More and more sports organizations are streaming games, tournaments, matches, and competitions via the Internet because streaming offers some major advantages compared to traditional television broadcasts.
Lower Barriers to Entry
Getting a slot on broadcast television is incredibly expensive and difficult, which means that this option is only available to the biggest organizations. Live streaming doesn’t involve competing for limited space on the airwaves, so prices are much lower.
Another factor driving down prices is the increasing ubiquity of broadband Internet connections and the declining costs of high-quality camera equipment.
Even with widespread syndication, which presents all sorts of logistical challenges, reaching a worldwide audience with television broadcasts is difficult.
Live streaming removes these barriers and allows broadcasters to access viewers much more directly, without the expense and difficulty of negotiating contracts with numerous distributors and partners.
Most people around the world still don’t have televisions, but tablets and smartphones are leapfrogging ahead and becoming more widespread. Live streaming via the Internet offers the ability to tap into a larger audience using any device.
Live streaming offers all sorts of amazing possibilities. For example, some sporting organizations are broadcasting multiple camera angles from the same game and allowing viewers to choose which vantage points they watch the game from.
A bit of custom programming can open a treasure trove of options for live streams. For example, you could create an app that allows you to watch two games at the same time, side by side, like Major League Baseball has done.
With live streaming, you can overlay scores from other games, integrate polls and commenting, share trivia in the midst of live broadcasts, and more. This allows you to engage with your audience in a completely new way.
Pay-per-view sports have always been a popular model, and live streaming sports allows you to integrate this standard practice easily.
With a platform like DaCast, you can put your live stream behind what’s called a paywall, which requires viewers to enter payment info before they proceed. All of this can take place within the video player window that you can embed on your website or post on your social media profiles.
Another payment model involves subscriptions, which allows access over an extended period for a one-time fee. This too is a familiar model in the sports world, and fans are quick to pay for content they judge worthwhile. When properly executed, live streaming sports can generate significant sales.
How a Broadcast Live Stream Works
Broadcast live streaming isn’t too different from broadcasting over television networks. For sports, it all begins with multiple camera angles connected to a studio or mobile location where an engineer live-switches between various feeds.
This master feed is delivered to an encoding device, either a dedicated live stream hardware encoder or a laptop running encoding software. This device encodes the live stream to a format suitable for transmission over the Internet and uploads it to your live stream host server network.
In the case of DaCast, this stream is then replicated at different bit rates to serve viewers with varying Internet speeds and sent to a content delivery network (CDN). The CDN then distributes the live stream in real-time to viewers all over the world. DaCast uses the speedy, global Akamai CDN, which has tens of thousands of servers located in data centers around the world.
Streaming as a service also provides a scalable cloud-based architecture which can adapt to whatever size audience your event is able to attract. Thus, for small events, there is no overcharging, and for major successes, the delivery system can dynamically bring in more servers to continue delivering files with minimal lagging and disruption to the stream.
The Future of Sports Broadcasting
More and more people are “cutting the cord,” or doing away with cable subscriptions, and moving to a completely Internet-based entertainment approach. This process is moving slow for now, but it certainly represents the future. Young people are much less likely to subscribe to cable or satellite TV, and much more likely to use streaming media services.
Increasingly, businesses are catching on. Yahoo, for example, is streaming a free Major League Baseball game every day for the 2016 season. Twitter has also followed, getting a contract with the National Football League to live stream Thursday Night Football games.
The trend is clear: streaming is the future of media and entertainment. This trend is still in its early stages, but early adopters tend to reap benefits. So, what are you waiting for? Charge full-speed into the end zone and start live streaming sports today!