5 Must-Haves For Streaming High School Sports Live

Live streaming technology allows anyone, anywhere to broadcast live content to a global audience. A person with a connected camera and Internet connection can now reach thousands of people -- something only network television broadcasters could do in the past. Schools are increasingly using video streaming, not only for online classes and distance learning, but also for curriculum, news programs, and of course, to broadcast their sporting events.

Have you thought about streaming your school’s sports? Are you interested in giving live sports streaming a try, but not sure where to start?

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the what you need to get started streaming your sports live, and how to make the most of your efforts.

1. Equipment

To get started with streaming your sports programs, first, you will need a camera.  Depending on your school’s resources, you have several options. At the most basic level, you can use resources you likely already have, namely, a smartphone or tablet.

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One advantage of using a phone or tablet as your live streaming camera is that you can often send your live stream directly through a mobile live streaming app (like the Facebook app, or something like GoCoder from Wowza, or Wirecast Go). Also, if you use a smartphone or tablet, you have the ability to access the internet directly through WiFi or a cellular network without any additional equipment.

The downside to using phone or tablet cameras is that you lack the ability to do any high-quality zooming, and the overall quality of the picture can be lower than for traditional video cameras.

If you choose to use a video camera or camcorder, then you will also need a capture card to ingest your footage to a computer (from which you will access the internet and convert your camera footage to streamable content -- see the encoding step below). There are lots of capture cards on the market. Here is some information on choosing capture cards.

2. Encoder

Next, as mentioned above, you need to convert your footage to streamable content that can be distributed over the internet and viewed easily. To do this you will need an encoder.

If you use a live streaming app on a phone or tablet, often, the encoder will be included as part of that app.

If you’re using a more advanced camera and capture card setup, there are lots of live streaming encoding software and hardware encoders to choose from. What you choose will depend on your budget and computer speed. Hardware encoders are generally more expensive. They are independent to your computer and run on their own processor. Software encoders are generally less expensive and depend on your computer for processing.

There are several free software encoders, including OBS. If you want a more professional software encoder, one of the best available is Telestream’s Wirecast. You can download a free trial before purchasing. For more information on encoders, you can check out this article.

3. Internet connection

A stable internet connection is vital for any live stream.

To test the speed of your connection at the location you are planning to stream, go to www.speedtest.net.

The important thing to note is your Upload speed. This is the speed at which you can transfer (or stream) content up to the Internet.

The upload speed you need for live streaming depends on the quality of broadcast that you want to produce. Different video qualities have different amounts of information that must upload over your network.

High quality 1080p video has more pixels – and therefore more data – that needs to upload than a video with 480p resolution. More data requires a higher upload speed. The speed you need will also depend on what type of encoding you’re using. This goes beyond the scope of this article, but suffice it to say that there are two main video encoding technologies in play today: H.264 and H.265 (also called HEVC). HEVC is a newer, more advanced encoding technology that requires more advanced encoders, but on the flip side, is also more efficient - and so requires less bandwidth to deliver, and less processing power for viewers to watch.

The table below shows some general recommendations.

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*These are rough estimates. You should plan on testing in your own environment to see what factors affect your upload speeds and what your minimums are for producing a smooth live stream that is watchable by your audience.

Additionally, we recommend that your upload speed be twice as fast as the speed at which you want to stream.

For example, if you want to stream at 1 Mbps, your upload speed should at least be 2 Mbps. Or alternatively, if your upload speed is 6 Mbps, you may want to throttle your stream to be no more than 3 Mbps. (The Mbps setting is usually something you can set in your encoding software or hardware platform.)

4. Live streaming platform/service

The next thing you’ll need to decide is where you want to deliver your live stream to. There are a variety of options out there. Some of the things to consider when choosing a platform are:

  • Cost
  • Supported players and devices
  • Player customizability
  • Monetization options
  • Digital rights management and other content protection
  • Does the site deliver additional viewers?
  • Social media support
  • Analytics

Free options include Facebook Live and YouTube Live. But if you want more control or additional features, you can consider a platform with some additional features such as monitoring, and analytics.

Here’s an article that helps compare the many options

5. Video management & maximizing your ROI

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The final consideration is how you are going to manage all your video and make the most of all the footage you’re gathering.  If you’re taking the time to live stream your games, you want to ensure that footage can be easily used for other purposes, such as for promotion, distribution to interested parties, content for curriculum, and even to help boost fundraising efforts. The more places and people that can access and make use of that footage, the better your Return on Investment (ROI) of your initial live streaming efforts.

Adding Fantag as part of your streaming workflow lets you access and deliver your footage in a variety of ways that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. Firstly, Fantag stores all your live stream footage, which you can then access in one central location for hassle-free sharing of highlights, clips, replays, and reels.  

Additionally, when you send your stream to Fantag, you can easily capture real-time highlights during the game, and deliver them directly to phones through the free Fantag Mobile app. This allows you to share instant highlights – with just a click of a button – with fans, parents, coaches, scouts, marketing people, and anyone else who needs them.

Also, creating highlight reels is as easy as selecting your highlights and clicking “Create Highlight Reel”. No editing experience required. This can save you hours of time in post-game production and gives you even more content you can use for promotion and curriculum.

Fantag is the easiest and fastest way to promote and share highlight clips from your live stream.

  • Save hours of time creating recaps and highlight reels
  • Increase fan engagement for your events
  • Easily share video highlights with everyone who wants them
  • Control, monetize and brand your video content
  • Get centralized access to all content -- visibility across all your teams

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Now that you have the basics, we’d love to hear how your live streaming programs go!

Let us know what equipment, tools, and platforms that you use for your live streams!

Lynn Elliott