LiveU’s Director of Sports Sales, Dave Belding sat down with School Video News recently to discuss what schools can be doing now to develop their live production strategy for the 2018-2019 school year.
Can you tell us more about LiveU?
LiveU is a pioneer in the live video arena. We’ve revolutionized the way broadcasters and organizations cover news and events using our patented cellular bonding technology. Our technology creates the consistent bandwidth and reliable connection users need to acquire, manage and distribute high quality remote live broadcasts over IP. Our broad portfolio of products ranges from backpacks to smartphones, and even satellite/cellular hybrid solutions.
What is LiveU’s history in the sports realm?
Sports is in our DNA. The idea for the cellular bonded solution was born after our COO & Co-Founder, Avi Cohen attended a soccer game in Israel. He saw first-hand how much effort was involved in broadcasting a live game – the SAT trucks and massive infrastructure needed, plus the amount of people on site and in the studio to capture and produce the game. At the same time, cellular infrastructure was changing with the introduction of 3G. What Avi quickly realized was how this cellular technology could impact the broadcasting community. He just knew there could be an easier and less expensive way to transmit live video. Since the company started, we’ve supported thousands of customers in their coverage of high-profile sporting events including the FIFA World Cup™, Winter and Summer Olympic Games, Super Bowl, US Collegiate Championships, IRONMAN and Absa Cape Epic mountain bike race (South Africa).
Why are collegiate athletic programs jumping on the “live” bandwagon?
Producing live sports events has traditionally been costly in terms of resources (people, satellite uplink trucks and production trucks), making it difficult to cover EVERY different athletic program and EVERY game, match, or meet.
With the proliferation of digital video online, schools have found an alternative way to get their content out to audiences. Facebook Live opened the doors with its notifications and ability to facilitate a two-way conversation between fans and the school in real-time.
At the same time, fans are hungry for content. They are tuning in round the clock from their cell phones and tablets to watch games and experience ancillary content, including behind-the-scenes interviews with coaches and players. This opens a whole new opportunity for sports broadcasters, teams, sports associations, colleges, and high schools to reach the fans. It is no surprise that universities and high schools want to get onboard. They have an opportunity to engage with fans, as well as connect with students, parents, alumni, donors, corporate sponsors, and potential students.
What are the challenges athletic programs are experiencing today when it comes to live video?
One of the first issues schools run into when covering athletics is lack of infrastructure at some of the event sites. Sports aren’t all played in arenas or stadiums with fiber connectivity. How do you cover beach volleyball, rowing or track and field? Historically, these sports weren’t covered at all.
The second biggest challenge is lack of human resources and budget. Many schools just don’t have a depth of talented students that are needed for a large production and don’t have the budget to hire professionals to cover all of their sporting events.
This is where the LiveU technology comes in. LiveU allows you to go live from a remote location with no fiber connectivity, and being able to do this with a very limited staff.
The first thing I tell a school who may be hesitant to pull the trigger based on budget concerns is “Don’t think of it as a cost. Think of it as lost revenue opportunities.”
What are the advantages of producing content for online viewing?
1. Now they’ve got lots of engaging content for their websites, OTT platforms, and social media
2. They provide live coverage of athletic programs that aren’t normally available.
3. Live gives them another revenue stream
4. Live gives them opportunities to engage with students, potential students, parents, alumni, corporate sponsors
5. The content possibilities are endless! Filming games, tournaments, and meets, plus behind-the-scenes, practice, players and coaches’ interviews, fundraisers, special events, etc…
6. Live helps with recruiting. If you are competing with other schools for a highly sought-after athlete, what if you could tell the athlete’s parents that their kid will be on the internet every game? That’s pretty amazing.
Can you explain the different live set ups, LiveU Solutions, and features?
Many schools already own the majority of the production gear that’s needed to go live. The missing link is often the “first mile”, that being the link between the event site and the production control room and/or internet.
LiveU offers many solutions that bridge this gap, from prosumer encoders all the way to 4K. We can offer a solution that eliminates the technical challenges within the school’s budget.
At Home Production: LiveU’s Wireless At-Home Production removes the connectivity and budgetary roadblocks typically associated with covering outdoor sporting events. With LiveU, the production team could eliminate the need for an onsite production truck, full onsite crew and costly satellite uplink. Now the production crew can stay put and all live production can happen right from their home studio. All that is needed onsite are the camera operators capturing the live content via LiveU portable transmission units. Multiple cameras can be deployed wherever the action is happening - but best of all, the camera feeds sync automatically and wirelessly. This workflow helps schools keeps costs down, produce more live coverage, and cover sports that haven’t been covered live before.
Can you explain how high schools, colleges and universities are using LiveU currently?
LiveU technology has been deployed in many different ways. From a single camera coverage of a high school football game for the web, all the way up to an eight-camera production of a golf tournament for OTA broadcast.
Can you tell us more about the revenue opportunities?
Schools can create their own OTT platform using services like Stretch Internet. Streaming live sports content to the web will create a larger fan base. This is what sponsors and advertisers are looking for. In additional to sponsorships, there is also an incremental revenue stream from merchandise sales and even ticket sales for smaller, less popular sporting events.
Dave Belding is a sales leader with three decades of experience bringing high-quality technology to the Sports Industry spanning professional teams, colleges, universities, venues and associations. Dave has been integral in driving new ways for organizations to increase fan/viewer engagement, ticket and merchandise sales, and sponsorships through the deployment of live video strategies. His background includes video production, system design, and implementation. With more than 25 years with the Diamond Vision division of Mitsubishi Electric, as well as four years at Barco Media, Dave helped set up and operate portable large-scale display systems at many sporting and entertainment events including AT&T Stadium (home of the Dallas Cowboys), American Airlines Arena (Miami Heat), and Lambeau Field (Green Bay Packers). He was inducted into the Information Display and Entertainment Association (IDEA) Hall of Fame in 2008.