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How can I Webcast a live football game (audio AND video) inexpensively?

Posted on 2007-09-28
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I am looking for a webcasting solution for a live, video webast of a football game.  I'm a hybrid or sorts; a coach who is fairly tech savvy.  Software developer, really; not too much in the hardware arena.  I found an answer relating to webcasting, but I don't think it would fit my situation.  So here's (hopefully) the whole scenario.

We have a website on a webhost that isn't able to stream live audio and/or video.  Cost is a substantial consideration.  We want to do this on the cheap, but quality enough to have a fairly clear webcast.  We would be broadcasting from football stadiums using one camera (professional, local Access Channel quality) and a laptop (2GB RAM, 100GB hard drive minimum, 99% certain XP Pro) with a broadband card since few staduims have broadband capability; or broadband capability that they won't let us use.  Maybe a small camera (e.g. Logitech) for in-booth cutaways.  Vanity, really; but such is volunteer work.  The locations would be in the Pacific Northwest: Washington, Idaho and Oregon.  

The bottom line is what type of hardware (and configuration) and Internet connectivity would we need?  Do we need to start our own ISP, or find a host that can take our stream and set it up for maybe 100 folks (to begin with) to "tune in?"

I'm probably not clear enough, or I might not be asking the right questions.  But is there a simple (humor intended) solution for a beginner?

StateGuy
(A.K.A. Coach Randy)

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Question by:StateGuy
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grahamnonweiler earned 2000 total points
ID: 19983847
What you want to do is not impossible - but unfortunately it won't be cheap by any stretch of the imagination. The basics are:

At the game: Digital broadcast quality video camera - connected to laptop (needs to be real fast - minimum 2Ghz Core2 Duo + 2GB RAM) which has 3G Broadband mobile connection to internet or Satellite uplink (the Satellite internet connection will be cheaper in the long run) with an uplink speed of at 512mbps and some "encoding" software to convert the live feed in to a "streaming" format (Windows Media Encoder is "free" from Microsoft and creates WMV on the fly). You need "broadcast" quality camera becuase it can do a lot of the encoding work in the camera itself - which will help ensure the laptop is not overstretched.

At your operational base/server: a method to receive incoming video and audio streams (again you could use Windows Media Encoder or MS Server 2003 Std  comes bundled with "media streaming") from your "game set-up" and then "push" that  stream back out to "connected" viewers. (again MS Server 2003 Std includes this option).

Simple so far - now here comes the catch - bandwidth costs.

Sending 90 minutes of video up to your "distribution" server is going to be a whole lot of data at basic watchable quality, around 340MB - and most 3G/Broadband connections have set limits so you would have a cost there (Satellite connections usually come inclusive - more expensive to setup but cheaper in the long run).

Next pusing the stream back out to 100 or so viewers in real-time will also consume massive amounts of bandwidth - easy to roughly calculate if you want "watchable quality" then minimum would be 384Kbs so 90 minutes of video is going to be around 36GB -  even though that's less than 100Mbps you would in reality still need a minimum of 2 x 100Mbps connections on to the internet backbone if you were to get "watchable quality" that means two servers and some software to stream between them.

Ok - these limits are all within whats available - but you will need to budget for it all and also build in the cost of having somone at "base" to make sure the streams are going out correctly and bandwidth stays within your limits.

I have mentioned Microsoft products here - not becaause they are the best or only option - but they are the simplest to get up and running and the "server" elements are availlable from a number of "web" based hosting companies.

Using just Windows Media Encoder running on the laptop at the game - if you have the external IP address of the laptop - upto 5 people could connect and watch and hear the output from the camera - simple way to test it all works.

In theory - you could then build on that idea - in "virual marketing" kind of way - and have each of those 5 people run Windows Media Encoder and distribute to another 5 people - and they in turn distribute to another 5 and so on. The only downside there is a small time lag will be introduced to each connection (around a second per hop) - but it will work! That way the cost is split between "the viewers"

Using video conferencing web based service is also possible - but I think you would run into very high costs there - and certainly higher than if you set-up the infrastructure yourself.

This is the barebones - and if you really want to progress with this I can help you along the way.
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by:Mark
ID: 19985600
I hope you're not going to pull a Belichick, taping the other teams signals ;-)
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