The internet has had a profound impact on every aspect of our lives, and sports fans have felt it as much as anyone. Tell youngsters today that we used to have to catch the latest scores on TV or radio, or that we sometimes even had to wait till the next morning to read about it in the paper, and they will stare in slack-jawed disbelief.
But there is more to online sports coverage than instant access to the latest scores and news via websites. The proliferation of sites where you can watch live streams for free is growing with every passing month. These include sports club websites, sports broadcasters and, in particular, online bookmaker sites.
These show a mixture of live action, highlights and tips from experts that all combine to help punters decide where to place their hard-earned wagers. In addition to all these, there are also a growing number of fan blogs that are incorporating live streams into their sites.
As streaming becomes the norm, it is rapidly starting to overtake television as the go-to way to catch the action as it happens. This is a trend that can be seen from the biggest events in world sport, such as the Olympics or the World Cup, to sport at grass roots level where live streams can boost support and engagement where it is needed most.
The market is growing rapidly, and right now, demand still exceeds supply. There’s never been a better time to get involved, so here are some tips for making a success of live sports streaming.
1] Quality is everything
There was a time when people would crowd around a grainy live stream because it was all that was available. Those days are long gone. Sport is unlike other forms of streaming in that every second could be important to catch that home run or touchdown pass as it happens.
Having the right technology in terms of hardware and software is, of course, vital here, but keep in mind that other factors such as weather conditions and ambient lighting will also have an impact.
2] Choosing the right software
By far the most important aspect of the “right technology” is the software. Providers like StreamNow have a free option that will allow you to get familiar with the basics before committing any money for their premium offering.
This is not the only aspect of software to consider, however. For example, if you decide to invest in multiple cameras, it makes sense to also have an encoder so you can switch from one view to another quickly and professionally. Mixing software is also useful if you want to create replays or highlights.
3] Hardware considerations
Your hardware is likely to constitute the biggest investment that you make in setting up your online sports streaming activities. Delivering at a professional level demands equipment that is high quality and sturdy.
Make sure you take good care of it, especially if you are likely to be using it in poor weather conditions. A couple of rainproof sheets will cost you coins but could save you thousands.
If you don’t have the right camera, you will never get anywhere. Ensure you choose one that works well in variable lighting, especially if you are covering a sport that is played in the evening. Streaming technology is evolving rapidly, so look to get the very best you can to avoid premature obsolescence.
For example, many streamers are seeking to future-proof their hardware by choosing 4K-compatible equipment, even though it is still some way from hitting the mainstream.
4] Promotion and marketing
If you stream it, they will come. It’s a nice theory, but unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy. Get the word out about your streaming activities, and do so well in advance of big events. Make sure you give advance notice on your website or blog about what is coming, but don’t stop there.
Social media needs to be your friend as far as promotion is concerned, so make sure you share and Tweet regular updates and teasers. These will serve to build up hype and anticipation among potential viewers, and the more interesting they are, the better the chances of them being shared and reaching a still wider audience.
You’ll be looking for some sort of return on all that investment, and there are a range of options out there. These include pay-per-view, premium content, advertising and subscription plans.
All of these can be used in combination, but don’t go for too much too soon – remember, the bigger your audience, the more attractive you will be to potential advertisers, so this is a classic example of where you need to speculate to accumulate.
Build up slowly, and don’t risk irritating or alienating viewers by overdoing the paywalls or popup ads – remember, that “back” button is only ever a fraction of a second away.
6] Offer extras
There’s a well-known advertising campaign that talks about how everyone likes to get something for nothing. It sounds obvious, but so do all the best ideas when you hear them stated clearly.
Offer some value-added extras to accompany the events that you are aiming to cover, for example with a preview show or perhaps some edited highlights with critical analysis.
Chances are, you won’t have access to the top sporting pundits, so be smart about how you present your extras. It’s a great opportunity to get your viewers involved and engaged, so don’t simply talk at them, give them the opportunity to participate.
Even if it is just a local game, it’s great to get some inside knowledge, so see if you can set up some interviews with players, managers or even their families to provide something a little bit different.
Streaming is already hitting the mainstream when it comes to TV shows and movies. You can be certain that the same trend will emerge when it comes to sports coverage, and this is your opportunity to be a part of it from the ground floor.
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