Friday July 23rd, 2021
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Livestreaming Major Tournaments on the Internet

I livestreamed on the internet some of the games from Nashville and Atlanta to test out my broadcasting equipment and had some success. 

Cost Breakdown:

1) Livestreaming costs 11.6 cents per viewer hour.

This is a cost of $350 for 3,000 viewer hours.

This cost includes ONLY the streaming service which is called Livestream and has a website called Livestream.com

How streaming works: I have a laptop which has to be connected to the internet and my camera.  When set up properly it will stream over the internet to the Livestream service which takes the video and audio feed and replicates it on servers all around the world.  A viewer such as yourself sees the embedded video feed on softballcenter.com but it is actually being sent from the Livestream server that is the closest to where you live.

The amount of internet bandwidth that each individual uses to view the live feed of the game costs at least 11.6 center per viewer per hour.  Someone has to absorb this cost.  In the case of my video feeds from Nashville and Atlanta, I had a "one time only" free month from Livestream for 3,000 viewer hours which is a $350 value.

I did not really publicly announce that I would livestream any games.  A viewer did post on oldscout that I was doing the livestream and there were a lot of people that came to the softballcenter.com site to see if there were any updates and I'm sure they "stumbled" upon the live feed.  But even with this lack of announcing what I was doing I still had over 600 different people viewing the feed at one point or another with a high of 140 people at one time.  I livestreamed parts of 11 games for a total of about 12 hours and the total number of viewer hours has come out to about 1,000.

The USSSA did an incredible job with the livestreaming of the Hall of Fame Classic but they also paid a crew of 4 or 5 people, a professional announcer, had multiple thousand dollar cameras and broadcasting equipment and they were paying a lot more than 11.6 cents per viewer hour and I know the live feed itself cost them thousands and thousands of dollars because they had almost 20,000 viewer hours total.

2) The second cost in livestreaming which is also a problem is internet access.  In some places like Chicago they have an internet connection right there in the scorers booth that a laptop can connect into and hopefully it has a strong enough speed.  In other places like Nashville and Atlanta there was no internet at all.  So I used my Verizon 4G aircard which costs $80 a month for 10 gig worth of data.  In the 12 hours I broadcasted I used over 5 gig so about $40 worth.  In a place like Indiana there was no internet connection at all and no Verizon 4G service so the only way to get the internet would be to work with a local business within "line of site" of the broadcast and purchase a device which can point to the businesses internet (their building) and connect.  This device costs money and I would probably have to pay the business to "borrow" their internet for a day or so.  I know softball kingdom did this at the Smoky's when they used the church down the streets internet back in 2008.

3) The third cost is in order to stream more professionally I would need to purchase a better camera with plenty of extra batteries, a case, a tripod with the zoom buttons on the handle and ultimately a tree stand to put up behind homeplate.  The tree stand and a better camera would allow for camera movement and zooming the video in and out, much more professional than my current stationary camera operation. 

The camera is $1,500 – $4,000 depending on quality and features.  The case, tripod, batteries, chargers and tree stand is another $1,000.  Then there is the cost of an extra checked bag on the airplane for any tournaments not in driving distance which is $50 round trip.

4) Finally there is the fact that I go to tournaments to watch the great competition and my reporting and website are really just a means to get to the tournaments without having to pay for the travel myself.  So why would I want all the extra hassle and quite honestly hard work of broadcasting every week?  The only thing I can think of is to do it to make some money at this.  So yes, I can do this for free here and there and I enjoyed the challenge of being a one man crew/broadcaster in Nashville and Atlanta and will probably do this again for free in Chicago because I still have some free viewer hours to use, but I don't think I could keep doing it without some financial benefit because when its all said and done I get to see the tournaments regardless of whether I put up a video feed or not.

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So how can live softball feeds from Conference and World tournaments be paid for?

I don't believe there is enough sponsorship to pay for a travelling crew and the expensive streaming costs, because if there was enough sponsorship then we would still have the great SoftballKingdom today.

I don't believe the directors of the tournaments can afford livestreaming crews because only a few of the Florida tournaments have had livestreaming and that is because USSSA paid the bill and used interns and a crew that is from Orlando and didn't have to travel.

This weekends USSSALive feed from Houston is the exception but that is because the Houston director (Greg Huchingson) and some local sponsors came up with a lot of money to do it.

I don't believe paid subscriptions can pay for it either.  SoftballKingdom tried this and I do believe they got over 400 people to pay for that first month or two but once you are locked into having paid subscriptions and passwording your feed, you lose any advertising money you might be able to get because those advertisers aren't going to pay to advertise to the same 400 people every week.

So the only thing I can think of (and this may be far fetched and never work) is to:

1) Email all possible sponsors.  I have a list of about 60 and see what they would be willing to do.  They would get an ad banner on SoftballCenter.com and a banner in the tournament reports every week and some verbal and video ads during the broadcasts.  They could probably even sell product on softballcenter.com and have their own page on there.  Or maybe they could give me product to sell?  The site is growing fast and has over 20,000 unique visitors a month and is averaging 5 million web hits per month.

2) I could ask the die hard softball fans out there (and there aren't many left) who like the video feeds, the players that like the feeds, the players families that like the feeds etc to donate anywhere from $20 – $50 per year to support the broadcasts.  Why did I use the word donate and not subscription?  Well like I said before – subscriptions would mean the broadcast would only go to subscribers and then the sponsorship money would not be able to happen. 

It is my belief that the only way to make broadcasting happen long term would be to have sponsorship from the softball equipment companies AND donations from the die hard fans, players, managers, and their families that enjoy the broadcasts.

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If the response was great enough I could see the possibility of a 20 tournament schedule.

Possible Broadcast Schedule (Whichever ones USSSALive doesn't cover or in addition to their coverage)
April 1-3                     Sin City Classic    Las Vegas, Nevada
April 15-16                USSSA HOF Classic – Dual    Kissimmee – Florida
April 29-May 1          Mike Turney Memorial Classic    Kansas City – Kansas
May 6-8                     10th Annual Texas Legends    Euless – Texas – North
May 13-15                 Columbus Major NIT    Columbus – Indiana
May 20-22                 Music City Classic    Gallatin – Tennessee
May 27-29                 Peach State Shootout    Marietta – Georgia
June 3-5                    4th Space City Classic    League City – Texas
June 10-12               Windy City     Joliet – Illinois
June 17-19               28th Dudley Budweiser    Brooklyn Center – MN
July 1-4                     USSSA MAJOR NIT I – Dual    Kent – Washington
July 8-10                   42nd Smoky Mountain    Maryville – Tennessee
July 15-17                 11th Annual Cincinnati    Cincinnati – Ohio
July 22-24                 26th Annual Rocky Mountain    Aurora – Colorado
August 5-7                Worth Last Chance    Sterling Heights – MI
August 12-14           Military Worlds    
August 19-21           USSSA A World    Kissimmee – Florida
August 26-28           Black American Worlds    
September 2-4        Conf Champ    Kissimmee – Florida
September 16-18   USSSA B World    Kissimmee – Florida
September 21-25   USSSA Major World    Kissimmee – Florida
October   1-2           ASA A World    Oklahoma City – OK

Streaming costs you would think would go down as bandwidth and server costs go down over the next few years.  Who knows.

Remember this would just be a one camera operation and one crew member/broadcaster (me) until and if there is such a time where there is enough money to add a camera or an announcer etc.  At first at least this would not be every minute of every tournament.  At first it would probably just be from the winner's bracket championship on Saturday until the end of the tournament on the main field. 

I could probably even do tournaments like the Military Worlds, Black American Worlds, USA vs Canada warm up games, The Pif, Bash 4 Cash, Corky's, Toys 4 Tots etc.

Maybe the benefit of being a "donator" would be that you get a vote on which tournaments I cover in a season?

Obviously this would all be pending USSSA approval to have access to the field and facilities to broadcast.

If you have read this far then you must have some interest in this so let me know what you think or if you have any other ideas I'm not thinking of.  You can post here or email me at [email protected]

Lack of interest would lead me to believe this isn't worth pursuing.

There is a poll at the bottom of this message board post as well that you could answer —> Poll Link

Thanks,
DW
[email protected]


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