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Streaming High School Sports Online: How to Tackle the Top 5 Challenges

by Dan Petrik
October 15, 2020

It’s playoff season once again. 

Already, you can feel the excitement building. 

Players participate in daily practice sessions. The bleachers are swept clean, ready for the band. You can almost hear the roar of the crowd as you step into the stands. 

But here’s the sad part. 

Not everyone can come to watch the games. 

Hundreds of parents, friends, and fans will be elsewhere, busy at work or simply too far away to attend. And yes, you can record the whole thing on video for later, but what’s the point, right?

You wish there were a way for everyone to enjoy the fantastic feeling of seeing it all live: the tackling, the amazing teamwork, the glory of winning. 

Of course, there’s the NFHS Network. But they broadcast only a fraction of high school games, and they require fans to pay subscription fees. 

All this makes you think, “What if I can take high school sports online and make live sports streaming available to everyone?” 

The truth is, you can. 

And it’s not that hard. 

Yes, there will be challenges. But this blog is here to help you solve the top five roadblocks on your way to live sports streaming success. 

Let’s dive in. 

The top 5 challenges of live sports streaming (and how to beat them)

Hurdle these five challenges (we’ll show you how!), and you’ll be on your way to helping hundreds or even thousands of people enjoy live high school sports wherever they are.  

1. Getting permission to livestream high school sporting events

No matter how good your intentions are, it’s not advisable to show up one day and begin livestreaming a sporting event. 

Instead, you have to start at the right place: with permission. 

Here are three easy steps to avoid trouble and quickly get permission to livestream the games:

  • Speak with your school board’s athletic director. With approval from the athletic director, you’ll untangle a lot of knots you could run into by doing things without permission. In some instances, they may even pay you to take charge of livestreaming.
  • Find out whether the NFHS (or any other entity) owns rights to the games. It’s important to note that the NFHS owns rights to video and broadcasting of some high school games, especially during the playoffs. You may be required to pay for the rights to livestream any of these games. 
  • Discuss things with the district and the PTA. Dave Basulto, former media teacher and current CEO of iOgrapher, recommends building up a relationship with these two entities. “Sell it as an ESPN-style show,” he says, with remote commentary, interviews, graphics, and more. “And you can have it all available for downloading after for parents needing tape on their kids.”

2. Choosing the best streaming software and sports broadcasting equipment 

Of course, you want to offer viewers livestream videos with top-notch quality.  

The problem is, sports broadcasting equipment is expensive. You can easily spend thousands on livestreaming cameras and encoders, and school athletic departments usually don’t have that much to invest in hardware and software. 

The good news is there’s an alternative. 

When you stream sports online with Switcher Studio, you can skip the pricey equipment and software and go straight to livestreaming high-quality footage using your own iPhones or iPads. 

With Switcher, you can:

  • Eliminate the need for expensive gear — livestream or record video straight from your iOS devices.
  • Capture games at multiple angles. You can connect as many as nine iOS devices, capturing the players, fans, coaches, and more from different perspectives. 
  • Make watchers feel part of the game with play-by-play remote commentary. 
  • Keep everyone updated with a digital scoreboard you can easily adjust in real time.
  • Give watchers an ESPN feel with prerecorded openers, player interviews, and commercials rolled into the live game. This feature is amazing, as it allows you to get sponsorships and insert brand logos into the video. 

3. Getting internet and power to livestream high school sporting events

Don’t worry, you’re not going to be running cords all over the sidelines. 

    • Electricity: Because Switcher works with iOS device cameras, you can bring external phone batteries for your devices. These Anker batteries are tried and true, and each one holds enough power to charge an iOS device several times.
    • Internet: If your venue doesn’t have a dedicated wireless network, you can bring your own mobile hotspot, like the Netgear Nighthawk M1, and create your own Wi-Fi network, which you’ll use to connect your cameras wirelessly. Make sure you choose a data plan from a provider with good coverage in your area because you’ll need at least 4-5 Mbps upload speed. If you’d like, you can extend the reach of your hotspot by pairing it with a more powerful router, like the Netgear Nighthawk Router.

4. Raising funding to livestream high school sports

Cutting costs dramatically by using Switcher Studio doesn’t mean you’ll be able to eliminate all the costs of livestreaming your sports events. You’ll still have to deal with expenses like rights to broadcast the games (if they’re owned by another entity).

But no worries. 

Here are three brilliant fundraising ideas to try.  

  • Solicit donations. You’ll be surprised at how many parents and fans would love to watch high school sports live. Soliciting donations from these people can result in more than enough funds to cover your costs.
  • Sell commercials. When you use Switcher Studio, you’ll be able to feature brand logos and commercials between live footage of the games. You can sell these features as sponsorship packages.
  • Host fundraiser competitions. You can start a friendly fundraising competition between schools, allowing participants to place donations for their chosen school. The winning school will get featured in your livestreaming events. According to Gary Wipperman of W7 Productions, who livestreams 200+ girls’ high school sporting events each year, this method allowed W7 Productions to raise $20,000 for their livestreaming efforts and their schools. 

5. Getting volunteers to help you livestream high school sports

By using tripods, you can set up nine iOS devices in different parts of the stadium or court and control them from your main iOS device. 

But if you want some helping hands, you can always ask for student volunteers. Try going to the school’s media or journalism teachers and asking if there are any students who want to volunteer. Switcher Studio’s software is easy enough for students to use, and it provides real-world multicam production experience. Plus, you can always get them a pizza to reward them for their work! 

How to livestream your sporting event the easy way

Playoff season is just around the corner, and you wish you could give all fans and loved ones the chance to enjoy the action in the moment. 

The cool part?

You can. It all starts with small steps. First, contact the school board’s athletic director and discuss your plans. Then select the best streaming software for live sports. Switcher Studio offers affordable pricing, ease of use, and a host of pro features to give your livestream that ESPN feel. 

The rest will follow. In no time, you’ll start getting a ton of messages from thankful parents, grandparents, and fans, telling you how happy they are to watch the action in real time. 

Want to test how Switcher Studio works? Sign up for a 14-day free trial today!

About the Author

Dan Petrik

Dan is Switcher's customer success manager and a co-founder of the company. He is a live video expert, helping companies like Golf Channel and Korbel create amazing livestreams with Switcher. Prior to co-founding Switcher, Dan spent 4 years working at an agency that helped businesses create and stream live video.

All posts by Dan P. >

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