Online Sportscastingin 10 Simple Steps

Step 1

Commit to being a broadcast leader in your market

Any live event, whether it is local sports (high school or small college athletics), city council meetings or parades can be broadcast using our program. Sports is the logical place to start as it has high community interest and has the best economic prospects. It is also a competitive environment. Startup companies are beginning to move in on newspaper turf – talking to high schools about live broadcasting – and taking the initiative. Newspapers have to move decisively to control the new medium before the landscape becomes competitive and newspapers find themselves operating without the initiative.

Step 2

Talk to your local schools

New ideas often meet with some resistance and, for school officials, the idea of broadcasting high school games is sometimes greeted with trepidation. But nobody knows – or has a deeper relationship with – schools than do newspapers. Most iNK Barrel Affiliates have made revenue share arrangements with the schools or booster clubs or agreed to donate equipment or promotional assets. These understandings create a deeper partnership and serve as a bulwark against the inevitable competition for broadcasting rights or privileges.

Step 3

Be prepared for common arguments

School officials inevitably raise concerns about this new medium, but in conversation many fears are allayed. Here are some of the queries iNK Barrel Affiliates have encountered and some rebuttals that have worked:

CONCERN: “We don’t want to hurt the gate revenue.”
• Our experience across the country is that broadcasts do not deter fans from attending the games. Nothing can replace the live experience.
• These same concerns were raised in the 1920′s with the advent of radio and now every game everywhere is broadcast on the radio.
• At some point in the very near future every event will be broadcast: be a leader.
• If the statewide television station wanted to put your game on the air, would you have these same reservations?

CONCERN: “I don’t want other coaches to scout my team.”
RESPONSE: With our Network, the playing field will be flattened and no one will have an advantage.  Many leagues already share videotape and this trend is accelerating. In some cases Affiliates have agreed to a delay in the archiving of games thus removing the issue before it even starts.

CONCERN: “No one else is doing this.”
• This medium is not going away. Eventually every game everywhere will be broadcast online. There is little reason to be a late adopter.
• As the world changes rapidly, there is a responsibility to expose the students to these shifts. There is opportunity for students to be involved and it is quite likely they will introduce new ideas.

Step 4

Check if the venue is wired

Many football stadiums, basketball gymnasiums, hockey arenas, baseball diamonds and other sports venues are already wired with high-speed Internet lines or WiFi.  In these cases, papers have to have a discussion with school officials about using school connections that universally have robust security so papers have to secure access to the ever-changing log-ins and passwords. In some cases Affiliates have elected to wire venues themselves.

Step 5

Purchase the right equipment

At minimum you will need a camera, a laptop, and a tripod. Depending on what you choose to do with the audio you may need microphones as well. We have prepared a list of suggested equipment that is available. Please contact us to receive it.

Step 6

Decide who will shoot the games

We recommend that you assign, hire or contract with a reliable person for this function. It is difficult for a sports reporter to shoot the game and cover it at the same time. Each Affiliate has come up with its own best way to handle this. Some have found students to handle this job. Some have assigned an Internet or video staffer to the task. Others have found an outside person for this role and compensated him or her in the $25 – $35 per game range.

Step 7

Produce the games

Set up your tripod, establish your Internet connection and plug your camera into the computer. iNK Barrel’s step-by-step instructions – and tech support staff – will have you producing a live stream quickly. It won’t take long before you and your team get comfortable with the process. For audio, you might talk to your local radio station to see if there is an interest in being partners with you or hire your own announcer. In many markets radio stations have shown a readiness to share audio feeds at no cost and some affiliates have been able to negotiate a fee from the radio station – particularly in markets with multiple radio stations doing games. Some Affiliate newspapers have hired their own play-by-play person which creates additional revenue opportunities as announcers can plug sponsors throughout the broadcast.

Step 8

Discuss how to handle archived games

As mentioned above, some coaches (both high school and college) object to having game footage available for scrutiny right after a game because they feel it gives other teams an unfair scouting opportunity. Some Affiliates have agreed to wait until after the season to make archived games available. Some Affiliates post game highlight packages. iNK Barrel’s flexible platform enables each paper or group of regional papers to set their own policies on archives.

Step 9

Look for other ways to leverage your new capabilities

Put a daily video-on-demand highlight clip on your custom iNK Barrel Module. Produce a “sports roundup” clip. Have your reporters conduct interviews for a “coach’s corner” segment. Share these clips with papers across the Network. For a fee, let the local car dealer talk on-camera during halftime. Sell full length DVD’s of particular games or cut a season-long highlight DVD package. Shoot parades, the Prom Grand Marches, plays, debate competitions, you name it. If it happens live it can be broadcast LIVE.

Step 10

Join a network

There is no freestanding television station in the country: Each is associated with a network. Radio stations invariably rely on network content. There are reasons for this: Access to content and access to national and regional advertising. This new medium is no different. As part of a network, you can offer your consumers a wealth of programming – particularly other local and regional sportscasts. iNK Barrel Affiliates routinely report that the highest traffic is generated on their local team’s away games. Plus, many states have agreements with traditional broadcast outlets for exclusive rights to certain playoff games or championships. We see a time when newspapers – as part of a statewide network – can eventually obtain the rights to these games.