Producing, streaming and broadcasting high-quality live events is one of the best ways to engage with audiences.
However, for streaming sports providers with multiple simultaneous games, or a large conference broadcasting a number of live sessions, complexities can be difficult to manage.
Whether you’re looking to offer a remote experience for a conference or performance, or need to provide enterprise-wide video for a training or internal meeting, there are a lot of things to consider.
Here are a few elements to consider for highly successful live streaming:
Pre Planning Your Event
Venue and location assessment - make sure your venue location can accommodate your live production. Power, sound and a broadcast booth (even a makeshift one) to centralize your efforts and control your broadcast. Ensure that your team has an alternative means of communication (not just sms).
Technical logistics - hardware and production equipment setup - ensure you have the appropriate equipment, staffing and technical director for your location. This includes cameras, microphones, acquisition and mixing gear. Your most important piece of equipment is your onsite encoder. Make sure that it has uninterrupted power, a clean internet connection, and is weather sealed if operating outdoors.
Broadcast internet connection and bandwidth - ensure that your internet connection is stable and that your upload bandwidth has enough speed to broadcast at your desired bitrate. For example, if you want to broadcast at 1080p, you want to maintain at least 4 mbps for your outgoing stream. Remember that most venues do not have dedicated internet circuits available for live broadcasts. As such, when the audience arrives you might find yourself sharing the internet with thousands of people. Always have a backup plan with a bonded cellular device or redundant connection available.
Production testing - Test, Test, Test! The best broadcasts are ones where you are able to make adjustments based on a predictable show cadence which is gained through extensive testing. The key points during testing are broken out into three categories. 1) Camera to Encoder: ensure you have a clean camera and sound feeds to your booth and encoder. 2) Encoder to Provider: Ensure you can send a clean stream to your provider. 90 percent of all live streaming issues occur from source encoder to live stream provider (eg. first mile issues). 3) Ensure that your live stream is configured and monetized properly on all your endpoints. (iOS, Android, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, Samsung TV, etc). NOTE: The most effective way to resolve first mile issues is to simply lower the streaming bitrate. It is a misconception that “if I increase the bitrate from the venue, my stream quality will improve.” This is most likely not the case, if anything, in low bandwidth environments, you will make the stream worse. Pull back the bitrates and demonstrate consistency before you dial up the birates.
Schedule your live event - Scheduling your events well in advance or reoccuring broadcasts are usually the most successful as you have more time to test, work out any issues or have a cadence that already works. Scheduling your broadcasts also allows you to ensure you are monetizing them correctly. It also gives you the time to review how your event is to be distributed.
O&O event distribution - Do you need to embed the event on a website? Multiple websites? Do you need to curate your events into playlists for OTT distribution? Perhaps you need to update the RSS feed for partner syndication. Making a Go-Live checklist for all of these housekeeping items is essential to ensuring no consumer is left in a blackout!
Social multicasting - How many social platforms are you multicasting to? (Facebook, Youtube, Twitter/Periscope, Twitch). Ensure the event you are multicasting to is FREE, unless you intend to monetize within the respective platform.
Test your stream - Ensure your live event is up early (even if its a simple slate with no audio), it will give yourself time ensure your broadcast is live on all players, O&O endpoints, syndication partners and social endpoints.
Top Tip: Record source stream locally, ALWAYS - A good operator knows that in the event of failure, they have a quality copy of the broadcast locally recorded. The internet is a very dynamic place and interruptions to your provider can happen. Never leave the security of your recording to happenstance.
Post Production, Post Broadcast
End the broadcast! - Be sure to end the broadcast a few minutes to several minutes after the event ends. Remember, you can always trim off parts you do not want later. Leave enough time on roll so you can edit later on.
Archive live event - Ensure that you archive the live event as a VOD with your provider so its able to be made available to your consumers for playback and catch up tv.
Post-production cleanup - Strike your booth, power down your gear, and wrap up your gear from your live stream provider. Ensure you answer any support questions from your consumers with fast responses (even if the resolutions are not forthcoming, it goes a long way to ensuring good customer service - don't leave your consumers hanging :) .
Add post-production source stream to video library - It is good practice to take your locally recorded video of the live broadcast to your provider. In fact, usually, the locally recorded version is a higher quality than the live archive, as such clients tend to make the locally recorded copy the primary VOD asset of the live stream during post-production.
The live streaming lifecycle is complex and relatively new for many organizations. Often teams end up purchasing a hodge-podge of point solutions that address one of the above specifically, but the result is a confusing mess behind the scenes. The tools don’t talk to each other and data becomes siloed and useless. Rarely are these services delivered on API to be broadcast to viewers on demand.
Zype recently launched a full suite of live events APIs that allow customers to manage the entire live streaming lifecycle. With Zype’s help, all of the above needs are met for organizations looking to broadcast live events.
To learn more, take a look at our Live Events API reference or check out our Ruby gem to start your integration today. If you’re an existing customer, head on over to our our help center to get an overview of Zype’s Live Events API.