How To Produce and Stream a live Production


Chris Waddington TV-Bay Magazine
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by Chris Waddington
Issue 94 - October 2014

Today, anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection can stream video content for free. The challenge is to create professional looking content that makes an impact; to do that it needs to have the polished look viewers are accustomed to seeing on network television, or they'll stop watching.

In the first part of our article, we looked at the first three steps in a live production; capture, production and encoding. Now let's look at how to get it to your audience.

Distribution

Instead of the satellites, radio towers and cable networks used to distribute broadcast content, video streams are transmitted over the internet in formats that can be viewed on a wide variety of devices such as computer screens, mobile phones, tablets and set-top boxes.

Although it is possible to arrange your own streaming infrastructure, it is crucial to remember that you have a separate TCP/IP connection for each viewer and all the technical support and troubleshooting is on you.

An easier option for those without the expertise or an in-house technology infrastructure is to use a Content Delivery Network (CDN). With data centres around the world connected to the internet backbone and content mirrored across them, they can deliver your content quickly to consumers. Be aware that CDNs deliver many types of internet traffic - not just video - so you need to ensure that whoever you choose is optimised for streaming services. Some even specialise in certain genres, such as music or sports.

CDNs can provide value added services such as taking a single stream from your live venue and creating the multi-bitrate versions required to serve all your different viewer profiles. This negates the need to have multiple encoders and reduces your uplink bandwidth, but can increase latency and this service usually comes at a cost. Many will also provide playback analytics so that you can see how many viewers watched, who they are, their location and even the device they used. This is valuable information for any professional broadcaster.

Additionally, CDNs will let the content creator or rights holders choose among several options such as ad supported, subscriptions and pay-per-view to turn content views into revenue.

Dry Run

When you really need to guarantee success (and when don't you?), best practice requires doing a dry run of your production the day before going live. For events that draw big crowds or in situations where other media producers are likely to stress available bandwidth, be aware that ISPs hosting the event may become strained and you may not get the same performance out of them as during the dry run. For this reason, always plan enough time to reconfigure your streaming profiles and verify that they work well before the start of the event.

Viewing

The audience's ability to tune in is the most important component of a successful live stream, and today's audiences are watching on practically every device that has a screen. By this point you should have already planned, enhanced and considered each option along the way. Your programme should stream smoothly, be viewable on any device and have maximum production value to hold your audience's attention.

Unlike tradition TV programming where shows have pre-defined start and end times, web-based shows can be streamed live and also be made available for download, allowing viewers to tune in at their leisure. Streaming your show live also provides you with an opportunity to connect with your audience. Providing additional content pre and post show, you are more likely to not only engage with your audience, but also pick up additional viewers and even retain them after the main programme has finished.

It's All in Your Hands

Creating video content and streaming it live over the internet involves many considerations but hopefully you should now have a better understanding of how to deliver content that is:

Professional quality - allowing viewers to concentrate on your content without being distracted by pixel breakup and buffering delays

Audience-maximised - making it viewable on the variety of devices used by your audience

Budget-friendly - using readily available, industry standard technology that adds value to your productions

With a wide array of cameras, production systems and encoding/streaming platforms available, technology now puts all three at your fingertips. From seasoned broadcasters to complete beginners, it's now possible for anyone to create a complete, professional-quality television programme and stream it to all the devices their audiences demand.

uk.newtek.com


Tags: iss094 | Newtek | Live production | Chris Waddington
Contributing Author Chris Waddington

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