Broadcasting is trending more towards a totally online platform than ever before. Most games are available for free online, and even major television networks stream live events through their web sites. While live-streaming HD video is a little above the price-point of most broadcasters starting out, there are a number of great tools available online, many for free, that allow you to connect and engage with an audience.
Here are just some:
Broadcasting Live – uStream
Everyone knows uStream. It’s one of the most popular streaming sites in the world, and is often the first suggestion to anyone asking how to broadcast something. The service is completely free, although there are pay options available. It is simple to use and can literally get you broadcasting, live online in a matter of seconds. It connects well with social media, has a built in chat and poll service, which makes engaging your audience very easy. It can also work well with various programs, such as software-based video switchers, so that you can have multiple camera inputs, and cut between them. There are some downsides to the service though, viewers are required to view a 30sec commercial before getting to your content, and the stream is cut every 10 minutes or so for another forced commercial break. Another downside to audio-only broadcasts, is that the service is geared towards video.
Broadcasting Live – LiveStream
Take most of the point about uStream and apply them here too. If uStream is 1a, then LiveStream is 1b. The natural audience you would get from uStream (eg: people on the site itself and finding your broadcast on their own) isn’t quite as big, but that may not be an issue if you promote your own show. The advantage of LiveStream over uStream is in the tools it comes with. LiveStream has a built-in video switcher setup that is free to use. It can run anything from an individual broadcast to a fully fledged TV channel. There are pay-options available at decent prices, but the free version will suffice for many.
Broadcasting Live – Mixlr
Credit to Ron Gallo of the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings for making others aware of this service. For those who are fed up with uStream’s ads and video-based nature, Mix.lr may be the option for you. It is the uStream of audio broadcasting, designed for radio broadcasts and a potential perfect free solution for a sports team on a budget. Mixlr takes a lot of the steps made by other free providers (see above) and moves them into a sleek interface that’s easy to use. You can design your own broadcast page, provide information to your fans and broadcast from just about anywhere by using the Mixlr app.
Connecting with Fans – CoverItLive
CoverItLive is a unique service that is used by individuals, right up to major networks. Most broadcasters these days have a blog that they use to keep fans updated on news related to the team and/or league. CoverItLive takes that idea and turns it into overdrive, creating a mix of blogging, chatting and multimedia sharing. Over the years, the service has grown, and users can now essentially give their fans a live experience via chatting, sharing videos and audio clips, as well as a live scoreboard for many of the popular sports. This service will not ‘replace’ a broadcast, but it is a good addition for those with the resources to use it properly.
Audio Playback – SoundCloud
Similar to uStream, who hasn’t heard of SoundCloud? SoundCloud is the premiere audio hosting service on the internet, there are few that come close to offering the amount of storage, combined with the presentation of your clips. The free version of the service gives you up to 120 minutes at any one time. Deleting clips frees up space that you can use again, but the limit isn’t enough to host a season’s worth of highlights on for example. There are pro-versions available for low monthly fees for between $5-15/mth that can give you more space. SoundCloud offers widgets for the popular blogging platforms, full social media integration, no ads and an easy to use service. There’s very little not to like about SoundCloud.
If you have a service you love using, leave a link in the comments below and we’ll add it to the list.