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!