In today’s increasingly digital world, broadcasting sports online is booming in popularity. Companies like DAZN, for example, have moved from filming in the stands to making billion-dollar deals with sports leagues.
Overall, more than 30 percent of fans now live stream sports to their phones or tablets. And that number is still rising rapidly. As this trend indicates, sports fans have always been at the cutting edge of technology.
According to David Jurenka, the NFL’s senior vice president for digital media, “Fans aren’t differentiating between a TV, tablet or phone.” Instead, they’re using all internet-connected devices for online sports streaming.
This blog is geared for sports broadcasters who want to stream live video or broadcast recordings of their league or team. Specifically, we’ll review how to set up professional-grade scoreboards with the support of streaming solutions. That way, your live streaming video will look as professional as possible for your viewers.
With that focus in mind, let’s dive right into the world of streaming sports online!
How streaming sports online is changing the game
In previous posts, we’ve covered some of the major reasons why live streaming and VOD online sports broadcasts are changing the industry. Simply put, the digital revolution is afoot. Eighty percent of sports fans today use a “multi-screen” approach while watching sports. This allows viewers to look up stats or chat with friends while watching the game live.
Furthermore, online video for live events makes good fiscal sense. In particular, one-time events like sports are perfect for pay-per-view monetization. In 2017, for example, eighty-one percent of sports fans subscribed to pay-TV services. However, the vast majority reported that they’d cut the cord if they could access OTT (Over the Top) content.
Are you ready to be a part of this cord-cutting, streaming video trend? If streaming sports online is your niche, you first need to learn how to stream sports effectively. In addition to those basics, you also need to learn how to do the little things right. This includes using the scoreboards feature, to name one salient example.
On that note, let’s look at scoreboard features with two encoding options in more detail.
How to use scoreboards with Wirecast encoding software
First, let’s consider the Wirecast encoding software options. Wirecast is a live stream software encoder and production mixer for video. We’ve discussed this in detail in other blog posts if you’d like to read more. Available for both Mac and Windows, Wirecast offers a broad range of features for streaming sports online, as well as other types of broadcasts.
Wirecast is an RTMP stream ingest software encoder that integrates directly with Dacast. As a result, it is quite fast and easy to set up your live channel and start streaming over the Dacast OVP.
When streaming sports online, some of the applications of the Wirecast software include:
- Mix and switch between multiple different cameras and audio sources
- Encode video for live streaming
- Record video for local storage
- Stream to multiple destinations at once
- Instant replay
- Add custom graphics and titles
It’s this last function–custom graphics and titles–that we’ll look at more detail here. There are three main ways to add scoreboards to a stream with Wirecast. These include using lower thirds, the built-in live scoreboard title, and the extension NewBlueFX Titler Live. Now, let’s review each method in a bit more detail.
1. Lower thirds
Wirecast makes it easy to add “lower thirds”—custom title overlays—to your live stream sports event. With a built-in clock tool and simple text manipulation, you can convey basic information like score, time remaining, timeouts, and so on.
If you’re willing to use an editor like Photoshop to create a scoreboard template, you can overlay this template with other add-ons. For example, you can float the actual score and time numbers on top.
- Professional appearance
- Easy to customize
- Requires manual updating
- As a result, the clock/score may not be 100% accurate and won’t update instantly
- On-screen typing (unless you use copy-paste)
According to Telestream, “If you have a second Wirecast Pro system you can have a “scoreboard and graphics station. A second Wirecast user could more easily manage all the scores, text and clocks and then output it to your main Wirecast system via NDI. Just make sure they overlay it on top of a green background so you can chroma-key out the background – Wirecast Pro does not yet support alpha channel output over NDI.”
2. Built-in live scoreboard tool
Next up, the second Wirecast method involves the built-in Live Scoreboard tool in Wirecast. Note that this features comes with the Pro version, but is not available in Wirecast Studio. This method makes it easier and faster to update the score. However, users still need to manually add a clock using Wirecast’s clock tool.
- Easier to update score (not on-screen typing)
- Professional looking
- Allows a custom background image
- Separate clock setup required
- Requires manual updating
3. NewBlueFX Titler Live Sport
Last but not least, NewBlueFX Titler Live Sport is a professional-grade title tool that plugs into Wirecast and a variety of other broadcasting tools. In fact, it’s a true professional-grade solution that allows for automatic updating scores when streaming sports online. Additionally, it plugs directly into in-stadium scoreboards for data syncing.
- Highly professional appearance
- Includes 3D animated graphics
- Supports NDI or SDI
- Supports automatic updating via Daktronics or Scorebot
- Custom colors and templates
- Not free ($449)
- Additional setup required
How to use scoreboards with vMix encoding software
At this point, let’s switch to consider the vMix software for streaming sports online. Like Wirecast, vMix is a powerful live-streaming encoder, production switcher, and mixing tool. This software merges support for a huge range of audio and video sources. Plus, vMix will run on any Windows PC.
Like Wirecast, vMix is a video encoder that is natively compatible with Dacast. As a result, integrating vMix with your Dacast account requires just a few clicks and your account credentials. Given that it supports graphics acceleration, a mid-level computer running vMix is more than capable of mixing multi-camera HD productions.
As with Wirecast, there are three main ways to use vMix for streaming sports online with live scoreboards. Now, let’s review each of these methods below.
1. Scoreboard title templates
First up, the simplest way to setup scoreboards with vMix is via custom text. This approach is similar to that of Wirecast. Users create a custom template image created in Photoshop or another graphic design tool, and then manually update the scores and times as they change.
However, vMix makes this process a bit easier than Wirecast, by providing keyboard shortcuts that allow you to update the score instantly.
2. vMix Title Designer
The second scoreboard option with vMix is the Title Designer, which comes with the vMix software by default. Beyond basic image editing and manipulation in vMix, it supports custom dynamic text overlays that you can update as the score and timing changes.
3. NewBlueFX Titler Live Sport
Finally, vMix also supports NewBlueFX Titler Live Sport. This option makes it easy to use professional-grade scoreboards on your vMix broadcasts. Automatic updating of the score, time, timeouts, fouls, and other metrics is also available via Daktronics or Scorebot.
Live stream sports online with other encoding software/hardware
Of course, vMix and Wirecast aren’t the only live streaming encoding software and production mixers available. In fact, there is a range of software and hardware tools out there, many of which Dacast clients use regularly. Dacast is compatible with any RTMP encoder with channel authentication (a security requirement for streaming on the Akamai network).
Many of the methods we’ve described above are applicable to a variety of these systems as well. For example, broadcasters can create custom scoreboards with every major software encoder/production mixer on our radar. Of course, hardware encoders will require NDI-based methods, such as the NewBlueFX solution.
And there you have it–an introduction to the world of streaming sports online! As this post highlights, online sports are booming. Joining this growing industry requires attention to details like scoreboards. After reading this article, we hope you feel better equipped to try out one or more of the approaches reviewed here.
Besides encoding, mixing, and scoreboards, another essential for streaming sports online is an online video platform. A pro OVP like Dacast offers both video hosting and live stream delivery. And if you’re looking to try a streaming platform today, we’re here to help.
Dacast offers a white-label video hosting and live streaming platform for businesses and individuals alike. Among other advantages, we offer low-latency HLS delivery, video monetization tools, and fast, global delivery via the Akamai CDN. Plus, we offer a 30-day free trial (no credit card required)! That way, you can test our streaming solutions yourself before making a commitment. We’d love to help you start streaming live today!
Thanks for reading, and good luck with your live sports broadcasts!
By Max Wilbert.