Increasing Streaming Engagement

 

The world of streaming technology has grown rampantly within the last few years, and schools all over the world are now publishing content live.

Websites like nfhs.com and cube.com exist solely to stream school-based events live, an indication of how popular live streaming has become in the education world.Cube01 450

Cleveland High School (CHS) is no stranger to this development. As part of the state of Tennessee’s A/V Program, which grants additional funding to digital media curriculums in schools, CHS has wholeheartedly embraced live streaming and are broadcasting all of their school’s events to the digital world. Just recently, CHS received the title of “Best Daily Live Newscast” from Student Television Network and “Best Overall School Broadcast Program” from the National Federation of State High School Associations.

As director of the school’s Digital Media Production course, Jon Souders has been overseeing the program’s success since 2006. Since live streaming took off, Souders has been instructing his students on how to stream the school’s events online, and has made it a routine exercise and educational opportunity by covering everyday events.

“We do a daily news show in the morning that gets published to TVs around the school and on the Internet. We stream all of our athletics which can be three to five events a week. We stream assemblies, pep rallies, guest speakers, concerts, everything.”

Streaming has been a challenging endeavor for Cleveland High School due to the ever-changing streaming world. Organizations and educational institutions like CHS have to adapt to new developments and mitigate financial and technical demands to stay relevant. But with their dedication to media production and the right investments in technology, the school has gained a strong following in the community and online.

With the rise of new streaming platforms such as Youtube LIve and Facebook Live and Periscope, streaming to multiple destinations simultaneously allows schools like CHS to increase the number of viewers watching even more. Knowing this, Souders decided to adopt Teradek’s latest streaming device, the Teradek Cube.

Cube02 425Cube is an H.264 encoder that streams high-quality 1080p video at up to 15Mbps in bitrates. Attached to a camera or the output of a switcher and connected to the Internet via Ethernet, WiFi or USB modem, Cube sends the audio/video feed directly to any preferred streaming platform. What makes Souders favor the Cube 655, however, is its ability to distribute his school’s stream to multiple destinations at the same time. This is configured and processed through Teradek’s cloud-based Core system.

For streaming events, Cleveland High School’s student-run digital production team utilizes an arsenal of equipment alongside the Cube. “We have 2 JVC GY-HM260 cameras and 4 Canon XF 305 cameras going SDI out to a Blackmagic Atem 2 4K switcher. After mixing, the feed is then encoded by the Cube 655 which is then distributed by Core to NFHS, Youtube Live, Facebook Live and Livestream. We’re looking at adding Periscope to that list too.”

Streaming to multiple destinations has benefitted Cleveland High School in numerous ways. First, multicasting allows theCube03 450 content to be more widely accessible to the public and audiences that may prefer one social platform over the other. Second, because multicasting increases viewership dramatically, it allows for more quality community engagement (especially platforms like Facebook Live and Periscope with real-time chat), attracting local companies as potential advertisers and sponsors .

“We justify the cost of buying the Cube because it allows way more people to watch our stream. Since we started using it, our viewership quadrupled. Because we have so many people watching our streams every time and actively engaging, local companies want to join the conversation in the form of sponsorships.”

Ultimately, the true value of live streaming and multicasting is about helping students understand the art of digital media production. As live streaming is gradually adopted by users and organizations around the world, students aspiring to enter the broadcast world will eventually work with this kind of technology.

“Here at Cleveland High School, we’re preparing our students for actual work rather than just simulating it in a class environment. When students see these products in the future, they can go in with the confidence that they have the technical knowledge to succeed.”