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Event Livestreaming 101

Livestreaming is a popular tool for advertisers and marketeers. This blog looks at the available technology for event livestreaming and the Pro's and Con's of its use.

The technology to livestream via social media has been available for many years. As long as the vlogger has a reliable and relatively fast broadband connection, computer-based equipment can project a range of video images and branded overlays. It is also not uncommon for live events to be broadcast directly from a smartphone using a range of accessories to stabilise the shot and capture recognisable audio, but these are generally short pieces to camera.

Event Livestreaming by its very nature is harder to facilitate, as the lack of permanent connection leads to a series of important challenges.

Exploring technology

One method to achieve a reliable internet feed is to use cellular bonding. This uses multiple 4G data networks to provide feed that under normal circumstance would fluctuate due to local connectivity and line contention. The bonding takes the best signals available and creates a strategy to use the strengths of each source to maintain a higher-than-average success rate.

In practise, a live streaming unit with battery power offering portability and around 4 hours of coverage is contained in a box around the size of shoe. This is coupled with a camera via HDMI or the videographers preference SDI, which feeds the sound and pictures directly into the box.

In terms of quality, with most of the country accessible by 4G networks, the recommended output quality is standard HD, 1920 x 1080. I would normally wax lyrical about the benefits of 4K footage and the rise of the 4K smart TV to watch it on, but in this case, because the image is normally pretty static at finish lines or mainly watched on smartphones, the output is widely acceptable. However, 5K livestreaming units are available and 5G mobile networks are already on the horizon. Watch this space!

Let’s explore some of the Pro’s and Con’s of event livestreaming

Ask yourself the question, why are you considering livestream?

One reason is that your competitors are considering it too. New tech, adds to the differentiation of your event offering. Remember the days when photos were chargeable, but now they are a free benefit to every athlete. Competitors have so many more options open to them now and if promoted your clients will log on and try it out.

You can advertise livestreaming as part of the benefits of the race. The athlete can have their families share, say the finishing line experience of the race and even if they are not in attendance or out on the course following others, all they need is a smartphone to view the action.

Livestream will add views and subscribers to the social media platforms you already use. YouTube is a popular choice as it can be set up ahead of time and the link shared on other social media channels. I would always recommend that your course announcer continues to promote its presence during the event and importantly, although it is live, it is also recorded for posterity for later viewing.

So, that’s the good stuff, what about the reality?

Cost is a factor. Ownership of the equipment is only one element, units range from £1,500 to £5,000 for this market. Mobile air contracts (of which you need a minimum of 2) are monthly invoices that need to be paid, whether the data is used or not. There is also an annual subscription fee for the bonding service. I would recommend discussing with your event videographer your needs ahead of time to see what is possible in the time allocated.

The second issue is your complete lack of sound control. The copyright of music and what’s get spoken next to the equipment can prove challenging. In one event, a half marathon, we set up the equipment near the start and finish line where the announcer/DJ played music as part of the event. Later, we were to find out that two countries had blocked its transmission based on lyrics of a song, seemingly banned in Iran and Cuba. YouTube is adept at identifying music and do take action. Losing the whole feed over chart music would be a shame.

Choosing silence over the sound of the event is an option many consider.

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