Isaac Bennetch on 25 Apr 2016 19:26:36 -0700

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Re: [PLUG] Live streaming sports events (Cross posted to Tech list at LOPSA)

Hi, I do a lot of work on sports broadcasts, so I have some perspective
I might be able to offer. A lot of the others came up with good ideas,
so a portion of what I say is already filtered through their ideas and
your responses.

On 4/25/16 9:32 AM, john boris wrote:
> Where I coach Football they have decided to look into live streaming our
> games this upcoming season and since I am the teams "Computer Guy" they
> have asked me to look into this. I am searching the web but I would
> really like to talk to someone who has done this. We don't have a
> dedicated Internet connection at the field so we would have to use
> Celluar. I have searched for hot spots near the field but as usual
> Sports fields usually end up in dead zones. 
> So if anyone on the list has experience with this even using a service
> I'd appreciate it if I could converse with you.


Your first obstacle is internet connectivity.

>From your other replies, it sounds like you're unlikely to be able to
get a hardwire from the school LAN to the football field. If it's just
an "effort" issue, I suggest getting quotes for a contractor to dig a
ditch and run conduit. If the district IT person is okay with the
concept but doesn't want to run the cable himself, it's a one-time cost
that the football program might be able to absorb. I'm pretty confident
saying that length of cable should be fiber optic, then you can come out
to copper at some closet in the stadium.

You've mentioned poor cellular reception. That's too bad; between
consumer "hotspot" cellular packs and professional "video over bonded
cellular data" type transmitters, if you'd have decent cell phone
coverage in the area this might be an option. I'd first want to look at
upload speeds and data limits on a consumer hotspot service, but if a
lot of the sites are in dead zones this probably isn't the way to go,
either. You _might_ have luck reaching out to the cellular providers
directly about increasing their network in that area, selling it as a
way to improve their service for people who are attending games, but
I've worked in 50,000 seat stadiums where my phone is roaming and 90,000
seat stadiums where I can't make a call or send a text, so provider
interest _might_ be nonexistent. YMMV.

You could get your own cable/DSL connection at the stadium. Depending on
whether Comcast or Verizon (or whichever other service area you're in)
would hook up regular service, you might be able to get dedicated
internet to the stadium. You probably would have to get business class
service, since it's clearly not a residential area, and there's a good
chance they don't actually have the stadium address in their system (I
remember years ago how difficult it was to convince Verizon's DSL
department that my apartment complex contained more than one a
time when I actually had Verizon phone service with an actual account
number and everything). Whether you could (or would want to) shut it off
during the off season and whether the cost is worthwhile are things I
can't help with, but this seems to me like your only real option.


Next up in difficulty/cost is finding a streaming service, provider, or
software package. You're going to be uploading the video live through
your internet connection, but if you're anticipating any amount of
traffic you won't want to host each connection yourself. I don't know
what the cutoff is -- and it largely depends on your connection upload
speed and encoding type. I have some 7.5Mbps MP4 files on my computer
right now that look decent, but even if you have the top of the line
Comcast Business Class account, your upload is still 20Mbps so you'll
max out after two viewers. Much better to stream to a CDN who can handle
scaling up to the load. I often work with an organization that live
streams a couple of times per week, using a streaming service that I
believe uses Akamai for their backend, and through a different project
we use CDN77 for file hosting (they also appear to do video stuff but
I'm less aware of that), but I'm rambling a bit. Anyway, the streaming
provider they use has custom hardware and software that runs on Windows,
basically they feed video in to it and press "Start stream". Their
encoder is by Kulabyte, which was bought by Haivision. I won't vouch for
how it compares to other similar products because I don't often use
other products and have nothing to compare it to. You could certainly
roll your own using a cloud-hosted server and some open source software,
but for the hassle I wouldn't even think about it. Youtube was rolling
out some streaming package last time I looked, however I do not know
anything more about it than that.

If your encoding company provides hardware or a list of supported
hardware, you're in great shape. They'll most likely tell you "we
support these encoder cards" and you'll buy one. That's how you get the
video signal in to the computer. There are a lot of signal types you can
use to get it there, HDMI, component, composite, HDSDI, and more. You'll
want something high definition, we're well past the years of 360p video
(oh, how I miss them, though).


The easy part is the rest of the gear. Camera (pretty much everything in
the same price range has the same feature set; the sub-$500 cameras are
all pretty similar, likewise for $1,000-$2,000; what separates them from
other classes of cameras are the lenses, record formats, and other
features. Something where you can manually set the iris and focus is
about all I suggest here. Something that at least allows you to add a
remote zoom in the future would be helpful (usually it's a small 1/8th
inch audio-style plug with a small rocker switch that gets mounted to
the tripod arm). An external audio input, if your encoder card doesn't
have one, is a good idea, but I imagine your encoder card will allow you
to send it audio independently. Tripod: do not cheap out. You want
something that can pan and tilt smoothly and that doesn't fight to tilt
down or up (that is, it can be balanced well with your camera). If you
want more than one camera, you'll want a switcher and communications
gear so the crew can talk to each other, but I don't perceive that this
is the direction you're going; it sounds like just one camera shooting
down from the press box. I'd put the camera as near the 50 yard line as
you can, away from noise such as coaches or the public address
announcer's seat, and protected from vibrations from people walking
past. You'll also want somewhere that won't be obstructed when fans
stand up.

If you want to have announcers, you'll need an audio mixing console and
microphones for them. Again, I'm not sure if this is the direction
you're looking to go; I can elaborate on this further if you want. If
not, I'd stick a microphone out the window, or preferably a shotgun
microphone mounted on the camera, pointed at the field. You won't pick
up the grunt of the quarterback or the hitting of the pads, but you'll
get a sort of ambiance of the game. Advanced techniques might involve
getting a feed from the public address announcer and mixing it with this


Assuming there's a band performing at halftime, you might get in to
trouble by webcasting their performance; this will depend on the
licensing agreement under which they are performing the music and
whether the arrangement of their movement is licensed or original.

Rachel mentioned getting permission for appearances; this is not an
insignificant point but probably isn't a dealbreaker. I am not a lawyer
and this is not legal advice, but this is probably a public event where
there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. You mention that your
kids have signed a waiver, but what about the students from the opponent
school? There are a lot of little factors here, some of which are more
important from a legal standpoint than others but again, I won't attempt
to make legal advice, I'll just list a few. When a fan attends a game
at, for instance, Lincoln Financial Field, it's pretty safe to assume
there will be television coverage. Everyone knows that, but for a high
school game it's not assumed. Having a 53 foot expanding TV truck with a
giant "The Comcast Network" logo on the side and camera guys positioned
around the stadium is a good indicator, but when you only have one
camera "hidden" in (or just outside) the press box, it's less obvious. I
would think -- but don't have direct proof either way -- that both NFL
players and fans have some fine print (in their contracts and tickets)
and/or signs around the stadium, and it probably wouldn't hurt to post a
sign near the entrance or ticket booth mentioning that the game will be
life streamed. Another factor is that NFL players are over 18, whereas I
assume most of your players are not. All that to say, I don't know.
You're probably okay, but you should ask someone more knowledgeable (and
accountable to the school district!) than myself. I've been a part of
televising conferences and even a wedding, and we make sure to put
plenty of signs up warning people; for some reason sports are the one
area this doesn't really seem to happen. But like I said, it may be on
the ticket or or something.

Hope that helps,

> -- 
> John J. Boris, Sr.
> Resident Computer Geek and Football Coach.
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