Thursday, September 24, 2009

Broadcast Football

As in the previous blog, Broadcasting Weddings, doing the same with football or other sporting events will present different challenges and can be much easier. For example you can broadcast a football game with just one camera and the web cam in your laptop.

A single camera and a web cam plus laptop could be a simple way to carry a game from the bleachers. I would recommend you have someone with you to operate the camera or the laptop, doing both could be done but you will be a busy broadcaster.

To pull the aforementioned off, here is a possible scenario:

Load the Livestream Procaster on your laptop. You can use it to switch between a web cam (pointed at you) and a camcorder for the game shots.

Sit high in the bleachers making sure no one can stand up and block your camera. If you can, maybe they will let you sit in the radio booth atop the bleachers? After all, you are promoting the game.

You will want the camera on a tripod, this is where you need a camera person to zoom and follow the ball. You will be busy doing the commentary on the web cam, sliding in the score from time to time with the lower thirds and overlays, and just keeping it all on the air.

Then just cut between your web cam and the camera to carry the game. Bring the audio in with a zoom mic and have fun! Theoretically you could do all this with the batteries for your camera and a fully charged laptop. Of course you need to verify you can get a internet signal from the bleachers.
Pull up a full screen video feed from your camera onto your laptop screen and switch from screen mode to web cam mode. Wala, you're a two man broadcasting team!

However, before you do all of this cool broadcasting stuff you will need permission to broadcast the game. You will need to talk to the principle of the school and probably the school board. If you are just doing it for friends they may not care, but if you are providing a service for people who cannot come to the game or intending it to be seen by anyone then the board will have a say in your actions. After all, they rely on proceeds at the gate and many will just watch it at home for free rather than attend.

Do It Professionally

For a company the rules change. First, there is the aforementioned legal angle. Second, you will want to get paid, right? And third, you want it to look good!


You can either pick a school or a school system. Get with the school board, they may want you to carry several games from a district of schools. You would go to the important games, perhaps the homecoming games and broadcast them live. They may limit you to certain games too, even if it is a single school. The board or school will decide what you can broadcast.

Unlike a play or school event you do not need copyright permissions. The school owns the game and can grant copyright permissions. You could be limited to not carry the half-time show if it is copy written. If a radio station is also carrying the game you could team up and use their commentary on the game. This can promote them, their station and you as well. A partnership between you and the radio station can be a great alliance.


Naturally you should not do this free. It takes a ton of effort and work and you should be paid for it. There are several ways to do this. One would be to sell your own advertising and cut to commercials when the action is slow. You can cover the radio station commercials with your own if they agree.
You can share in the profits of the radio station and carry their commercials with their sales force charging more if you put them on the video version of the game. You get your cut.

If there is no radio station transmitting the game and you are it then the board may pay you to broadcast the games. The school itself may give some proceeds from the gate if it's a way to get the game broadcast.

Or there is pay-per-view. You would need to bury the game behind a web page that requires the visitor to pay to gain access. Livestream doesn't currently have a way to do this themselves, but it can be done. Potentially this would be the most profitable way to go. Each viewer pays for access and that can be hundreds if not thousands of viewers.
The school board may want a cut for access to the game itself. Be prepared to give it.

After you are ready to broadcast, have everything you need and get with the school board, then you can work out ways to make it profitable.

Looking Good!

The simple way mentioned above may not be the way you want to broadcast professionally. There are multiple ways to do it from extremely elaborate to not so fancy. There are also software packages and hardware mixers that will help get the job done. Below is an easy to configure system that will be affordable and portable.


You can get a video mixer for under $500 if you shop around. Sima makes one, a used Panasonic WJ-AVE5 or MX1 will work too. Hit Ebay and search for video mixers. You will use this to mix two cameras. Having two cameras on the field will provide better mixing of the game.

Connect the two cameras with cables to the mixer. Output the mixer to a video capture device and feed it into a laptop.
Put the laptop and mixer on a folding table and get 20 foot cables to go out to the two cameras. This is your field system. The table, mixer & laptop will be on the ground in a good spot where the cameras and shooters can get shots of the field. Rope off the area so no visitors can trip on anything.

You will take a second laptop up to the booth above the bleachers. There you will receive the feed from the guys down at the table with the mixer. You will have a web cam on yourself or the booth crew calling the game. There you will mix the whole game. You can also have a web cam with a wide shot on the field from the booth or just turn the one on you toward the field if you need a wide shot.

Your field producer will switch between cameras on the ground keeping a good shot at all times. You can switch from your web cam or to the cam on the ground. (which is actually the two cams mixed)
You can add scoreboards, overlays, lower thirds and such as you switch the game. If there is no radio station to take commentary you can have a person with you to add color commentary or do it yourself. I recommend you have someone call the game so you can concentrate on the broadcast.

There ya go, a good basic set up to broadcast a game. With a high speed internet connection you can be on the air and making money. This could be a good way to make seasonal money when the summer wedding business slows down. Or go into business broadcasting football, basketball and baseball full time!

There is a game of something going on almost every weekend year round. ;-)
See a sample game being broadcast here

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