How to produce professional sports livecasts for less than $500 per game

By August 5, 2016 Uncategorized No Comments

We have been working with many publishers across the world to deliver great sports content ranging from the highest level of sports leagues to high school and local sports events. The reason why we have seen such a strong interest among publishers for sports content is that it drives viewership like few other things. Just think about how much people pay for the rights to the olympics or the soccer world cup, or the ad breaks during Super Bowl.

Everyone knows that high level sports can be produced with great quality but also that it costs a small fortune. Therefore we have worked with publishers to find a cost-effective yet high quality production environment for local sports.

The key to a great production is to have the following ingredients:

  • Excellent bandwidth
  • Great speaker
  • Graphic overlay software

The most important thing for you to secure while live broadcasting is to have good bandwidth at the arena you are broadcasting from. There are plenty of traps to fall into when trying to secure this. What happens most of the time is that you go out to the arena a couple of days before the game to test the connection and it is great. Then you arrive at game day and all of a sudden it is not so good any more because the stadium is now filled with people all using the local wifi or the cellular network. Another challenge is that network connections tend to vary a bit over time, so a connection that can work well one day may not be so good the next day. The best way to secure a good bandwidth is to use a fixed connection and having a speed of at least 10Mbps consistently for both uplink and downlink. You can easily test your speed using SpeedTest.

Having a great speaker can help you significantly because even if the footage is not perfect the speaker can share not only what is happening but also the feeling at the game. Who does not have memories of their favourite commentator that makes up the majority of the experience of watching a game. You get the feeling of excitement and it almost feels like being there when you listen to a really engaging speaker. Often the talent for the speaker and the production team can be sourced locally from professional video amateurs in the soccer club or a local media high school. We have seen many examples where the cost per game to produce is in the range of $200-400.

Graphic overlay software is the computer program that puts the scoreboard and the current timer on top of the live broadcast. When someone enters a live broadcast of a game the first thing they try to find out is who is playing, what is the score and where in the game are you. Having a graphic overlay software will support viewers to quickly find that out as well as seeing other important facts such as penalties, scores from other games and facts about players. For most of the low cost productions what you save by not having many professional cameras you can make up for by having an excellent graphic overlay software. LiveReplayer is one example that has support for several different sports such as soccer, basketball and ice-hockey. It is important to have a piece of software that support your specific sport since all sports come with different ways of counting scores. In tennis you have 0-15-30-40 and in soccer you have 0-1-2-3-4-etc and having a software that support you to count correctly saves a lot of time and avoid mistakes. The cost for such a piece of software should be well below $50 per game.

We have seen a big potential to grow a loyal audience and make money on local sports. Many good and successful attempts use for example advertising, pay per view and subscriptions. So far, the best success that we have seen is when someone has made a larger investment to live stream a series of games of particular interest to the audience they have and used those games to fuel their main revenue mechanism since it reinforces their core offering. A typical best practice for a newspaper having a digital subscription plan would include the following components to monetize an event. First a small sponsorship fee to be seen in connection with a single game or multiple games to cover the costs of production, often in the order of magnitude of $1000-2000 per game. Then on top of that a mechanism to tap into the willingness to pay from consumers by for example putting the live streaming behind a paywall if have such a strategy and thereby requiring that users subscribe to the digital plan to watch it. Of course on top of this you also have the normal advertising opportunities in relation to display ads and video ads when people go to the site. Since a live broadcast can keep people at the site for significant amounts of time, you can be creative how you display advertising or other things around the player over an extended period of time. The key here has always been to select content that is truly relevant to your audience to strengthen your value proposition to them as well as to provide a longer term engagement than a single game that would create a habit of coming to your site over an extended period of time.