4 Live Streaming Mistakes To Learn From

Live Streaming Mistakes

You rarely hear the word boring in relation to live streaming.

Most live streamers could probably throw together a blooper reel in the space of a few minutes, made up solely of production blunders and unexpected incidents from past live events. And it’s not just the homegrown productions that face the perils of a live broadcast. Remember Joe Namath’s irrepressible urge for a kiss during an ESPN interview? Or how about the time the Super Bowl feed was disrupted by a power outage? And don’t forget about this infamous live BBC interview.

Whether it’s a local or a national production, life goes on, strange things happen, and live video captures it all. The key is learning from these mistakes. Below are a few common live streaming mishaps we’ve seen over the years that we think can be avoided, so listen up to ensure they don’t happen to you.

Live Streaming Mistakes (And Tips For Avoiding Them)

Balls Going Rogue

Picture this: You’re watching a live streamed soccer game at home and it’s a critical moment in the game; the striker is lining up to attempt what could be a game-changing free kick. He approaches the ball, swings, and kicks, and… your screen goes dark. In this true story, the live stream came to an abrupt end when the ball hit the camera squarely and destroyed it. We’ve seen the same thing happen with a foul ball during a softball game (see the video clip below—thanks St. Scholastica Saints!). If the live stream setup was dependent on a single camera to capture the action, you and a whole lot of other fans are left hanging. And for those on the production end, well, it’s time for a new camera.

TIP: Think through your camera placement before the game starts. A camera placed too close to the action or in the direct path of gameplay is at risk of getting hit by the ball, or even by players. Also, if you’re doing a single-camera production, it’s a good idea to have a backup camera nearby just in case. Nobody ever thinks it’s going to happen to them—until it does.

Live Streaming Mistakes

Weather Wreaking Havoc

The weather is great fodder for small talk, but it’s not always given enough attention when planning for a live stream. Weather conditions can have a swift and negative impact on the success of your broadcast. We’ve called clients in the past wondering why their live feed stopped only to discover that their equipment was damaged in the rain. We’ve also seen sudden storms cause panic on camera, with everyone rushing to get the cameras under cover. And we can’t forget about gusts of wind knocking over cameras. One second your fans are watching the game and the next they’re getting a good view of the bleachers or clouds in the sky. Bad weather can easily take down your live stream if you’re going in unprepared.

TIP: Listen to weather reports on the day of the event and plan accordingly. If it’s a windy day, make sure your tripod is sturdy and well-rooted to the ground. If there’s any chance of rain, arrange your live stream setup under a pop-up tent, or even indoors if possible. Have whatever equipment you need at the ready, so you’re prepared rain or shine.

Wondering what else you should be prepared for? Download this free checklist to find out the steps you should take before, during, and after every live stream event.

Unintended Eavesdropping

We’ve occasionally gotten emails from fans who’ve heard more on a live stream than they bargained for, thanks to conversations taking place too close to hot mics. Foul language, personal rants, and even pleasant banter between friends have all been caught on tape and streamed out to fans inadvertently. Your viewers just want to watch the game—and while some may be amused, some will most certainly not.

TIP: Advise your camera operators to be mindful of nearby sound anytime mics are on. Operators should also pay attention to loud noises and/or conversations that could be caught on mic due to its positioning. If you’d rather be safe than sorry, most camera mics can also be completely disabled. While a total lack of ambient sound on your broadcast is a less desirable experience for your audience, sometimes this is the best course of action.

Technology Traps

Troubleshooting technological issues can be an irritant and a time suck. Every second counts in a live streaming situation, and the last thing you want to be doing is spending precious minutes (sometimes even hours) working out a technical snafu. We’ve seen operators frantically checking camera manuals, consulting internet forums, asking anyone and everyone for advice, and basically running around in circles, when the solution was simple: the camera was unplugged.

TIP: When troubleshooting tech problems, check the obvious first. Taking a second to do this simple step could save you loads of time. It’s not uncommon for cords placed in high-foot-traffic areas to come unplugged. Make the outlet your first stop should a problem arise and go from there.

Want more live streaming advice?

I’ll be the first to admit that you can’t avoid every mishap—nor do I think you’d want to. In those cases (Joe, I’m looking at you), score one for a thoroughly entertaining and definitively unboring live stream.

But for the most part, we know you want to have an issue-free live stream—and that’s where we come in. We can’t promise that every broadcast will go off without a hitch if you work with us here at Stretch, but I can promise that we’ll do everything we can to make all your live event streaming as pain-free and simple as possible. We’ll do for you what we do for all our clients—offer guidance and advice on everything from what kind of equipment to buy to improving your production workflow to creating a top-notch experience for your viewers. If you want to hear more about what it’s like to partner with us, let’s chat.


4 Common Issues While Broadcasting Live Sports (& How To Fix Them)

Common Issues While Broadcasting Live Sports

If you’re involved in live streaming sporting events, you more than likely have the following things in common with the athletes you’re filming:

  1. You like a good challenge.
  2. The more you practice, the better you get.

None of us will ever be perfect, but improvement is a worthy goal, especially when it comes to mastering something like broadcasting live sports. It’s a unique challenge, no doubt about it. The pace and unpredictability of live games can throw even the best live streamers for a loop. If you’ve ever found yourself shaking your fists in the air due to yet another recurrence of one of the issues below, now’s the time to get proactive.

Broadcasting Live Sports: 4 Common Issues & Their Fixes

1. The fast pace makes it difficult to master camerawork and placement.

We hear you: It’s hard to film sports—harder than almost any other type of event you might live stream. The amount of movement compared to a church service, for example, is multiplied a hundredfold. Often, teams set up one camera to cover the entire field without a single shot change. That’s fine—as long as it’s set up on the same planet as the game. A static camera placed too far away from the action means your viewers are barely getting a glimpse of what’s going on; the same goes for a camera located in a less-than-ideal position on the field. On the flip side, maybe you’ve tried doing camerawork, but it ends up being too busy, with constant movement in an effort to chase down balls and follow players. For many viewers, it might conjure up feelings of nausea rather than excitement.

The fix: We like to think of this issue as less of a problem and more of an opportunity. If you only have a single camera, experiment with different locations until you find one that adequately covers the playing field but also allows viewers to see the action relatively well (this may require a longer cable or a wireless setup). Or, try using two cameras—one for a static wide shot of the field and another manned by an operator-in-training. With someone at the computer to switch between cameras, try for a steady mix of shots: wide shots combined with baseline shots as well as the occasional close-up of the pitcher or batter getting ready for action. Eventually you’ll develop an awareness of the right shot, and it will have a huge impact on your broadcast.

2. Your cameras and/or computers can’t keep up, and your images are blurry.

No doubt about it—cameras and computers have to work harder to broadcast live sports. The more movement there is, the more your equipment works to update the pixels in the frame. (Water polo poses an extreme challenge, with the playing field and the players constantly moving.) A blurry picture could mean a few things, but more than likely, it is a sign that your CPU is being overworked, your camera might need an upgrade, or you need to rethink your encoding settings (higher bit rate and/or resolution).

You should be able to depend on your platform provider for live streaming advice and proactive tech support. Find out what else a good platform provider can do for you with this free guide.

The fix: There’s no silver bullet here—especially not one that would work in every situation. But the better you or someone on your staff knows your camera, the better your chances will be for success. To help mitigate the problem, make sure the settings on your camera are optimized to track fast movement, and verify the resolution settings are where they should be. Some cameras even have a motion setting you can adjust that will help with sports specifically. On the computer side, make sure there aren’t any additional programs running that are increasing the demand on your CPU (sometimes the old tried-and-true restart can alleviate CPU issues). Also, keep your computer out of direct sunlight at all times, which could cause overheating. If your CPU doesn’t seem to be too high, try upping the quality of your live stream by increasing the bit rate and possibly the resolution—make sure to verify your network can accommodate the higher quality first so you don’t compound the pixelation issue by adding buffering.

3. Constant venue changes make it hard to come prepared.  

For live streamers, preparation is about expecting the unexpected. Venue changes are common, which makes internet connectivity unpredictable. You simply don’t know until you show up what kind of connectivity you’ll have or what’s available to begin with. You also don’t know what to expect in terms of logistics—the best placement for cameras, the location and number of outlets, etc.

The fix: While it’s not ideal to broadcast using a mobile hot spot, it’s good to have one handy. If the internet goes down or you can’t connect for one reason or another, at least you have a way to continue your live stream. Also, have plenty of cables and extension cords for power purposes in case the distance to an outlet is longer than expected or the ideal camera position turns out to be farther away than you thought. Both are simple fixes but super helpful in a pinch.

4. Simultaneous events make it difficult to manage multiple live streams.

Simultaneous sporting events, like tournaments, pose another unique challenge. Two, three, or four games in a day can be hard on your equipment and a drain on your manpower. You need to set up equipment in two different locations and have a way to monitor the live feed in both places. Hopefully the locations are within walking distance, but it’s still difficult to stay on top of two games at the same time.

The fix: Make sure you have a way to communicate between venues as well as designated parties to manage the live feed in each location. We also recommend having simple checklists for each crew to follow to streamline the entire process—setup, event, and teardown. Keeping the lines of communication open is key. Perhaps you can identify one point person to monitor the individual sites from a central location and be in communication throughout, similar to how the Northwoods League monitors all of their league events.

If you’re having trouble resolving a particular issue with your live sports broadcast, get in touch! It’s our goal to help live streaming be as easy as possible for you while also being a memorable experience for your viewers.


40 Live Streaming Tips To Make Your Broadcast Better

40 Live Streaming Tips To Make Your Broadcast Better

No doubt about it: Broadcasting anything live has its challenges. There’s no stopping and no do-overs, which makes multitasking mandatory and quick thinking critical. You also never know exactly where your content might take you.

But the more you do it, the better you’ll get, as thousands of experienced live streamers out there can attest to. We picked the brains of some of those people to create this article chock-full of live streaming tips, which we hope will be of use to anyone—new to live streaming or not—who wants to make their process smoother and their product better.

Keep in mind, though, that there’s always an element of the unexpected with live streaming—that’s part of what makes it so interesting! As Jeffrey Harper of Adrenaline Garage Productions puts it: Once everything is in motion, sometimes you just have to hang on for the ride.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

40 Live Streaming Tips

Equipment & Setup

1. If you have two, you have one; if you have one, you have none. Always have a backup of everything—a computer, cords, cameras, etc. Audio cables and connectors, in particular, are cheap but usually not easy to get locally when you need a replacement. Anytime you’re buying a cable or connector, buy at least one extra.

2. Keep your devices charged and ready at all times. Always have a backup battery.  (Livestreaming is a heavy drain on batteries.)

3. Keep your cables and connectors organized in such a way that you can easily tell someone else where to find something. Separate and label your storage: audio, video, USB cables, microphones, tools, etc.

4. A $75 webcam, a $75 USB microphone, and a $200 investment in lighting is all you need to produce a high-quality look and sound.

5. Check the specifications on your equipment—newer isn’t always better. Even the latest technical equipment might not be optimal for live streaming.

6. Use Wi-Fi network connectivity if possible. If you’re relying on cellular service, it’s nice to have a hot spot from a different cellular provider as a backup in case one service is better in that area than another.

7. Check your internet upload speed at a site like speedtest.net before broadcasting. Disable or pause any Dropbox/Google Drive apps you might be running in the background. Know your quality options if your speed drops lower than expected.

8. If you’re working outside on a hot day, keep your computer cool to prevent overheating. Put an umbrella over it or use a cooling fan.

9. Run a test before you go live to make sure everything’s working well and that you understand the controls and mechanics of the live stream app you’re using. Ask for feedback from a friend or colleague on that live test run to know what will require your attention for the real thing.

10. If something worked yesterday but doesn’t work today, swap out as many things as you can – only change one thing at a time, though, so you can isolate variables. Start with the cables, and work your way through the setup, using all of your backup components.

11. Set things up early. Test everything, and don’t be afraid to call your streaming provider to confirm that the broadcast is coming through properly, including audio.

12. Before going live, check the location lighting ahead of time to be sure it’s ideal, and avoid backlighting your subject.

13. If you’re filming outside, be mindful of the sun. Sun glare can prevent your video from being seen at all, and if you’re filming from inside a press box, the sun’s reflection on the glass has the same negative effect.

14. If you plan on talking, minimize the background noise. A lapel mic or even the typical headphone-mic combo can achieve this. If it’s windy, find some sort of cover to block the wind. A foam wind cover on the lapel mic helps.

15. If you’re standing near a microphone that’s capturing the natural sounds of an event, remember—it will pick up your voice as well! Don’t have a private conversation near an active microphone.

16. For those who plan to be on camera, wear a single color shirt—no stripes or squares!

17. For live streaming with your phone: Match your framing, lighting, sound, and surroundings to your intended effect. For raw, “spur of the moment” broadcasts, hold your phone with your hand, use the built-in mic (or wear your headphones with a mic), and find an out-of-the-way spot where you can still capture the context. For a prepared presentation, use a tripod for your phone and a lapel mic if the environment is not quiet and ensure that the lighting highlights you or what you are trying to show.

18. Spend some time with your camera operator(s) and let them know exactly what you want to see out of the camera (from zooming to being mindful of the score graphic).

19. Give your camera operator a monitor if possible. They’ll do better camera work if they understand what it looks like on a monitor (with a score bug or lower third graphic).

20. Incorporating more than one camera makes a big difference from a viewer’s perspective. If that’s not possible, be sure your single camera has a camera operator who can follow the action and zoom in for tight shots.

21. If you’ll be stationing a camera and leaving it somewhere for the duration of an event, be sure it’s placed well away from heavy foot traffic.

Preparation & Process

22. Use checklists—setup checklists, rehearsal checklists, and show rundowns. Too much is happening too quickly in a live environment; you can think more clearly about what needs to be done days in advance.

Download our Extensive Live Streaming Checklist to find out what steps you should take before every live broadcast to make sure it goes smoothly!

23. To alleviate some of the stress of going live, preparation is key. Know what your potential audience is interested in and do your best to provide it. Grab a Post-it note and jot down three points you want to cover in your livestream. When you feel nervous, refer back to your notes.

24. Meet with your crew and broadcasters before every event. Review the timeline of the broadcast, emphasizing the most important elements to the crew so everyone can prioritize their assignments. Go over specific terminology the director will be using so there is less confusion when directions are given in the heat of the moment. If you have a new crew, show clips of previous events to help them learn their position.

25. Consider your platform. If you’re just trying to reach as broad of an audience as possible, YouTube or Facebook works. When you need more control over your live stream, choose a platform that looks professional and has options like permissions and password protection.

See Also: Live Streaming: The 4,500 Word Ultimate Guide

26. Market your live stream ahead of time. Advertise it starting two weeks before it begins, then again the week before, then one day before, and finally one hour before you go live. Record your live show so anyone who misses it can catch up later.

27. To build a following and engagement when live streaming, regular broadcasts are key.

28. For live streaming on social media, announce that you are going live at time “X,” and give prospective viewers a hint about the content. Write a compelling description to accompany the stream.

29. If possible, rehearse the entire show. You’d be surprised how often you discover an incorrect setting on your gear or a misunderstood direction with your crew or talent.

30. Keeping it simple can actually make your broadcast look more professional. People don’t notice what you leave out (i.e., graphics/videos created ahead of time, replays you wanted to fit into a break, a camera you wanted to cut to but was out of focus, etc.).

31. Use graphics, bugs, or lower thirds to add context to your broadcast—for example, a clock on sporting event to indicate time remaining, or the occasional lower-third graphic to identify a speaker.

32. Plan to have one crew member who isn’t specifically assigned to a task. When the unexpected happens (and it will!) the available crew member can handle the problem while the broadcast continues.

33. For sporting events, using student commentators or recording the natural sounds of the game are much preferable to dead silence.

34. Prepare offline screen graphics for your live stream, like a picture with the event schedule, the event name, a logo, or text saying you will be live in 30 minutes. Show them during breaks or before the stream begins.

35. Don’t be scared off by the idea of incorporating graphics or scoreboards. They’re so easy and they make such a big difference (imagine watching a game on ESPN without knowing the score!).

36. Interacting with your audience—whether through chat, on-stream, or before and after the broadcast itself—is a great way to build relationships with your viewers.

37. Your live audience is more interested in information and discussion than your personality. Give guests ample room to share their perspectives, promote other people or brands, and if appropriate, bring the audience into the broadcast by reading and answering comments.

38. Don’t strive to be perfect. Perfection will kill any broadcast (not to mention morale). Provide constant feedback to your crew without demanding perfection to reinforce positive habits and give crew members ownership over their position.

39. Be creative and don’t be scared to go big. Your broadcast can look good without much more effort than plugging in and going. Pay attention to what others are doing and copy the heck out of the good ones!

40. Have fun! This is real-time video, so mistakes and mishaps are bound to happen. This is an opportunity for you to share something you’re excited about with the world.

A huge thanks to everyone who helped us out with these live streaming tips, including:
Josh Lifton, Northeastern University
David Toelle, Kansas Wesleyan University
Christopher Sabato, Willamette University
Stephen Wilson, Park University
NG Media
The Social Media Hat
Dave Ruch
John MacDonald
Savvy Solutions Consulting
Tiffany Everett
Adrenaline Garage
Roker Labs


Creative Ways To Improve Your Live Streaming Broadcast

Creative Ways To Improve Your Live Streaming Broadcast

Fellow live streamers: Let’s make 2017 the year you up your live streaming game. The year you try something new. The year you get creative.

The start of a new year is a great time to experiment with ways to improve your live streaming broadcast. You may have already been live streaming for a while and think you’ve got it covered, but there’s always room for improvement.

And it’s not as hard as you think. In fact, many of our suggestions for how to improve your live streaming rely on good ol’ creativity. That might surprise you if you’ve been thinking that the road to improvement is paved entirely with dollar bills. That’s not to say that money won’t help, and we do have a few ideas about that… but our favorite ideas for producing a better live stream are free of charge and only require additional thought and experimentation.

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” (Thanks, Tony Robbins.) So give your viewers something a little different this year by trying one or more of the ideas listed below. You’ll likely discover that a little extra effort goes a long way.

5 Creative Ways To Improve Your Live Streaming That Don’t Cost A Thing

1. Use your secondary camera to experiment with new shots.  

If you’ve been live streaming for a while, it’s likely you have more than one camera at your disposal (even if it’s not currently in use). But it’s not always easy to determine where to position them both for maximum impact. Rather than let the second camera languish, try something new. If your primary camera is typically positioned higher up, place your additional camera at a lower angle for at least a portion of the event, to give viewers a different feel.

For instance, church broadcasts are typically pretty similar from week to week. Viewers who physically attend can change their seat for a different view, but those who are watching at home can’t—your camera represents the only position available. It helps viewers feel more at home if you occasionally show things from a variety of angles.

Put your secondary camera in a new spot for a week and mix it up a little. If the shot looks good, incorporate it into your broadcast going forward. If not, you always have your primary camera focusing on the action; have the camera operator try something different next week. Even a slight change creates a different experience for the user.

2. Use your secondary microphone to capture new sounds.

The same advice we gave for the camera holds true for your microphones. Moving a second mic to a new location can capture entirely new sounds that will enhance your broadcast.

At a basketball game, for instance, you might usually place a microphone near the announcer to capture sounds from the crowd, but for a portion of the broadcast, why not take it closer to center court so you get the whistle or the sound of the ball bouncing on the floor? Or, at a choral performance, try placing a mic farther away. A different arrangement of sound will enhance the performance. No matter what the event, incorporate audio more thoughtfully to add context.

3. Freshen up your look with new graphics.

The graphics you’re currently using are probably fine. But fine is not what we’re going for, remember? Graphics play a major role in the overall aesthetics of your on-screen presentation, so they shouldn’t be overlooked. Introduce new graphics or upgrade the ones you already have to create a noticeable change in your broadcast. Any change you make—whether it’s font, size, color, placement, or content—will be appreciated by viewers. (Just be sure to follow a few basic graphic design rules no matter what: Contain elements in the safe zone of the “lower third” to avoid blocking the action, keep the text simple, limit font selections to one or two that are easy to read, and choose aesthetically pleasing, complementary colors.)

4. Change the way you go in and out of commercial breaks.

An often-overlooked broadcast element is the way you transition in and out of commercial breaks. Just like on-screen graphics and the content itself, these transitions affect the feel of the presentation. Review your current transitions and see if they can be improved. Are they consistent and tight every time? Even the simplest details add polish without adding to your bottom line.

5. Spend just a little more time preparing.

If your live streaming process typically starts the minute you set up a camera in your usual spot and hit record, this one has real potential for you! Even investing a small amount of prep time well ahead of the event allows you to add elements of interest. For instance, some of our sports clients have three or four production meetings before a big game where they time everything out, including pregame and halftime shows. They also decide on topics to cover in the commentary (including contingency plans—i.e., “If this happens, let’s talk about it”), note which players are coming close to making milestones so they can keep track of it throughout the broadcast, and more. Churches can do the same. Find out ahead of time what the sermon is about and build elements into your live stream to enhance it. Get key quotes or passages before the service starts and have those ready for the broadcast—don’t try to do it on the fly. A little bit of preparation pays dividends.

Want your live stream to go off without a hitch? It’s all about preparation. Download this free Extensive Live Streaming Checklist to learn the steps you should take every time for a worry-free broadcast.

How To Improve Your Live Streaming Broadcast—Cash Required

Money isn’t everything, as you can see from the suggestions above, but it does help. Even moderate cash investments can do wonders for your live stream. Depending on your current situation, one of the suggestions below—in combination with one above!—might be just the thing you need to produce a more professional-looking broadcast.

1. Invest in an updated camera.

Any discussion about how to improve your live streaming usually includes upgrading your equipment. It goes without saying that a newer, nicer camera will increase the quality of your broadcast. But upgrading is also a good way to expand your resource pool. Buy a new primary camera and pass the original one down so that your secondary camera becomes your old camera. Your primary camera should always be the best because it’s used the most. But if you continue to upgrade and spread them out, you’ll increase the quality of your secondary and tertiary cameras very quickly. Remember to always vet the camera ahead of time to make sure it is compatible with your current streaming workflow (or chat with your friendly live streaming provider to be sure!).

2. Turn one of your cameras into a wireless camera.

Any camera can be turned into a wireless camera, but you might spend upward of $2,000 to do it, which makes this one of our more expensive suggestions. However, the capabilities of a wireless camera jive with some of the creative ideas above, like getting shots from different places you might not otherwise be able to go. That opens up a multitude of options for what you can actually do during a broadcast.

3. Upgrade your design elements.

Enlist the help of a graphic design firm (like 99designs) to come up with a unique identity for your broadcast. This doesn’t have to cost much; a little cash spent here goes a long way toward creating a more polished feel. A professional can help design custom logos, graphics, backgrounds, and your lower third, all of which help build your brand and enhance your presentation.

4. Invest in the right live streaming platform.

If you’re really interested in how to improve your live stream, make sure your platform has features you can grow into as time goes on. For instance, if you hope to eventually stream multiple events at once, make sure your platform supports multiplayer viewing. Additional features you might want to consider include on-demand viewing and the ability to integrate social media or live data for your viewers. Assess your needs and your current platform, and make sure it will continue to be a good fit well into the future.

If you’d like to talk to us about how our platform could work for you—or about how to improve your own live streaming—drop us a line! We’re always working to add new features and love to hear what live streamers are currently doing. Best of luck with your live streaming in 2017!


Broadcasting Live Sports: 3 Unique Tournament Challenges

Broadcasting Live Sports: 3 Unique Tournament Challenges

We stream a lot of live sporting events here at Stretch, all of which (in our opinion) make for awesome and thrilling entertainment. But the mother of them all—the most intense and epic sporting event around—is the tournament. From our point of view, not only is it the ultimate test of skill from the players’ perspective (“Go forth, good knight, and crush the competition!”), it also proves your chops when it comes to broadcasting live sports.  

While every type of live streaming event has its challenges, sports tournaments are a unique beast. Such massive events have so many moving parts that they can easily get hectic. Compared to a typical game or program, there are legions more people involved and an extensive list of details that need attention. Organizing participants, fielding questions, delegating last-minute tasks—there’s no end to the number of things an event organizer has on his or her plate on such a big day. It’s the number of things the organizer usually has to take on… times ten.

Check out the must-have equipment for live streaming and steps you need to take before, during, and after your event.

With all those hats to wear, live streaming isn’t always top-of-mind. In fact, it may fall to the bottom of the priority list after initial setup. Sometimes people assume the stream doesn’t need to be checked; more often they simply forget. Meanwhile, as the day goes on, the probability that something will go wrong increases with every passing hour.

Our advice: Respect the tournament. You need to give your live stream the attention it requires. Below you’ll find a few pearls of wisdom we’ve gathered as a result of our own experiences. Heed them, and you just might find yourself in the esteemed company of the live streaming elite when it comes to broadcasting live sports.

Challenges & Solutions of a Live Sports Broadcast: Tournament Edition

1. Challenge: Tournaments run long; your equipment may not.

Solution: In contrast to a single game, tournaments may go on for an entire day, so it’s important to check your equipment periodically for potential problems. For the computer in particular, best practice is to check it between each game and, if possible, even shut it down between games to give it a rest. Make sure it’s not running hot and that the CPU is within a healthy range. As a safety measure, prop the computer up or use a bay station with a fan to nip ventilation problems in the bud. It goes without saying (OK, we’ll say it) that all of your equipment should be plugged into power and not running on battery.

2. Challenge: Scheduling can’t always be controlled.

Solution: Don’t try to tame the beast; just play along. If the first game goes long, it affects every game for the rest of the day, turning what was once a nicely planned schedule into a logistical nightmare. To address the fact that live sports broadcasting is unpredictable, use a good provider who can help you with scheduling. You can’t forecast everything. At Stretch, we tend to set game schedules earlier rather than later. If the dominoes fall and the games get behind, at least your audience has access. Also, be sure to let your provider know when games end, so they can close the event access from their side (and keep your archives nice and tidy if that’s a service they provide).

3. Challenge: The battle will take place on unfamiliar territory.

Solution: Because most tournaments take place on neutral (read: unfamiliar) sites, it’s important to be prepared. Find out ahead of time if the venue has an IT contact you can call if disaster strikes. Even better, talk to that person ahead of time. Confirm what type of internet they have, what speeds you should be getting, and if there are any restrictions to be aware of. Even with proper testing, we’ve seen networks get “choked” with too much data during the actual event. In cases like that, having a resource who’s familiar with the site’s internet structure is invaluable and could mean the difference between success and failure.

Prepare Like A Champion

Broadcasting a live sports event has its challenges, but simply being aware of them is half the battle. Now that you have some idea of what to do on the big day, why not get another step ahead with this extensive live streaming checklist? There’s plenty more you can do to ensure a victorious live stream, and most of it happens in the days leading up to an event.  

Go forth and stream, comrades!


A Live Streaming Checklist You Shouldn’t Be Without

A Live Streaming Checklist You Shouldn’t Be Without

The stories you are about to hear are true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

The morning of the big event, Joe started up his computer and was surprised when it kicked off an automatic update. He wasn’t particularly concerned until three hours later—when he discovered the update was still in progress. With a crowd now gathering at Joe’s church and less than 30 minutes until the beginning of the service, he knew he was in trouble. He didn’t have a backup computer with encoding software, and he didn’t know how to bail out of the update. He had no idea what his options were at this point, so at twenty minutes and counting, he simply crossed his fingers…

Max headed out to the ball field to set up the night before an important game. He’d heard all the stories about the importance of extra equipment, so he had backups for his backups, and he was confident everything would go off without a hitch. Cameras in the field, computers in the press box, and a heavy-duty cable (which had set him back several thousand dollars) were all ready for the big game. But when everything was finally rigged up, he discovered that the signal strength of one of the cameras wasn’t even close to covering the necessary distance—and at that point, it was the middle of the night, which meant he had less than eight hours to come up with a solution…

In our business, we hear stories like these all the time.

Download a complete production checklist that includes tasks for before, during, and after every live-streamed event.  

You may have had your fill of scary tales by this time of year, but at Stretch, live streaming mishaps and horror stories happen all year long. We’ve heard it all—everything from equipment that acts up, to computers catching inconvenient viruses, to cables that cut out inexplicably.

Let’s face it: You can never prevent bad things from happening. Things will go wrong. Scout’s honor. And we’re of the same mind as the Boy Scouts, too, when it comes to their motto: Be prepared. For everything.

That’s what will set your broadcast apart from the legions of mediocre live streams out there—your preparedness. And the key to preparedness, we’ve found, is the pre-production checklist.

3 Live Streaming Pre-production Checklist Items

The Stretch Internet preparedness badge (if we had one!) would emphasize readiness. Just as coaches conduct targeted practice sessions, strategic analysis, and more during the week before a big game, it’s imperative to set yourself up for success. This part of the process (it’s not optional, trust us!) starts several days before the event. That way, there’s plenty of time for testing and revising your plan—and a lot less stress.

Here are three essential tasks to complete in the days leading up to a live streaming event:

  1. Ensure that your streaming computer, software, and other applications are up to date. This includes your encoder, your drivers, your firmware, and any other equipment you’ll be using. One word of caution: Before you update, check with your streaming provider first. There may be compatibility issues that would make an update counterproductive.
  2. Physically set up and check all of your equipment. Specifically, confirm that:
    • The resolution on your camera is optimized based on your setup.
    • The streaming encoder is configured to send out the highest quality video possible.
    • The output is set up properly to send to the right location.
    • The stream ID or channel name is titled properly and corresponds with your scheduled event.
  3. Ensure you have an archive or a recording set up to save your video file in case a backup is needed. If there are any issues with the live stream, having a backup will give you peace of mind and allow you to upload your file after the event. Stretch and some other streaming providers automatically archive your live stream, but it’s considered best practice to record locally as well—just in case.

Download Now: An Extensive Live Streaming Checklist

To find out what other steps are on the production checklist (including five more pre-event tasks, day-of tasks, and tasks to complete after the event) and some technology essentials, check out this extensive guide that focuses solely on preparing you for a winning broadcast. Don’t underestimate the importance of preparation! It’s not just for fanatic planners—it’s for anyone who wants to get it right the first time. Download this free checklist and set yourself up for live streaming success.


Live Streaming Sports? Here’s A Production Playbook For The Team

Live Streaming Sports? Here’s A Production Playbook For The Team

Bill Belichick is the master of all game planners. No matter the opponent, you’ll see adjustments from week to week that directly contribute to the Patriots’ success.

(On second thought, I guess most people don’t actually like the Patriots, so maybe that’s a bad example if I’m trying to get you to stick around! But you get my point…)

Teams that are most prepared have the best chance at winning. And the same rule applies when it comes to live streaming sports.

If you’ve been tasked with setting up the camera equipment and the live stream for your college’s athletic programs, AAU tournament, or any other type of event, it’s important to be prepared for game day.

Live Streaming Sports? Here’s A Production Playbook For The Team

1. If you’re on time, you’re late.

Translation: Set up early on game day!

You’ll likely be there before kickoff (or tipoff, or first-pitch) anyhow, but let’s just reiterate the importance of giving yourself time to prepare. Make sure to show up an hour before game time (at least for your first few streamed events) and a minimum of 30 minutes before all of your events.

Sometimes live streaming sports in an arena can be unpredictable. People start filing into the press box, and technology can go haywire—it might be as simple as someone unplugging a cord so he or she can charge a phone. If you’re there early, you’ll be ready to handle any situation as the game gets close.

2. Rely on your backups.

Translation: Try to bring double the equipment.

We all know about the importance of special teams, the bullpen, and the sixth man. So make sure you have (at a minimum) two of every piece of equipment you need.

Have you ever heard the expression, “If you have two, you have one, and if you have one, you have none”? Take that mindset into your live streaming production.

3. Practice makes perfect.

Translation: Test your equipment—and then test it again!

Make sure someone is on-site and able to test the live stream a few times before the game starts. That way, you can identify and troubleshoot any issues before the fans tune in.

When you’re in this testing phase, make sure to run through a few different scenarios like switching camera feeds, pulling in the running clock, and going to a video replay. This practice time before the game will be a huge factor in how well your live stream turns out.

See Also: Live Streaming Setup For The Computer Illiterate

4. Thank the fans.

Translation: Build your live stream with viewers in mind.

Ultimately, you’re making this live stream available for the fans. And in most cases here at Stretch, it’s for some special fans. We’re talking about friends who couldn’t make it to the game, alumni that live far away, or parents and grandparents who want to watch their daughter’s first collegiate game. Make it a special experience for them!

Here are some ways to really enhance the fan experience:

  • Scoreboard integration: Some newer scoreboards allow live streaming platforms to plug directly in and pull it right into the live stream.
  • Running clock: This isn’t the 1980s NBA Finals anymore. Make sure you can provide the running clock on your live stream.

5. Hire a great training staff.

Translation: Choose a streaming provider with great support.

Athletic trainers play a huge role (albeit behind the scenes) in the outcome of a game. They help players physically prepare, rehab, and get back on the field as quickly as possible.

Make sure the live streaming company you go with has awesome support, just like a fantastic training staff. Sometimes technology doesn’t work the way it should, and you need someone who can help you in a pinch.

Wrapping It Up

Whether you’re a hotshot rookie or a savvy veteran in the live streaming game, it’s so important to prepare the same way and the correct way for every game. The playbook above is a great place to start. 

If you have any questions about live streaming, get in touch with us here at Stretch. We stream more than 60,000 live events every year, so we can help determine exactly what you might be able to do with your current equipment.