When every game is webcast

A few months ago I got a call from Brian Slawin. Someone told him I fooled around with streaming live video and he wanted some ideas on how to stream his daughter’s softball games so family members could watch her play. He gave Qik and Kyte a try but wasn’t happy with the results but he kept at it. This past weekend he packed up his laptop, webcam and Sprint cellular card and headed for the ball field.

“Initially, I was concerned that a wireless cellular card wouldn’t allow enough upload bandwidth to actually stream the signal, but it turned out that even at 100kbps upstream, the signal was rock solid and remarkably clear. My gear includes an HP Pavilion PC, the Sprint card, a Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro, a power strip with 1400 joules filtering and some other cables, etc…

“Turns out I got lucky…my Sprint signal was 5×5 and there was power right at the backstop plus an angled desk/bench that made for the perfect setup.  I used the Justin.tv streaming system and it was tons of fun to have about a dozen parents/friends watch each game and join in the chat with Justin’s embedded chat feature. I made like a play-by-play narrator typing out what was going on…and every now and then playing “Joe Buck” for fun.”

Webcam“I’ll need a better setup than just hanging the web cam from a couple of lanyards and a bag…when it got windy, or when there was a foul ball, the camera shook and I had to reposition it numerous times.  Likely a tripod or perhaps a platform that is more securely attached to the fence and would allow for a higher angle is what I’m going to experiment with next.”

Brian’s company has some big plans.

“I can see a time where we’d actually hire broadcast teams (students in broadcasting programs in local high schools or colleges) to broadcast the games. We’ve already begun working with a softball tournament company on the East coast and are going to try and bring this forward for next summer’s tournaments in the New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey area.”

“But for now, I’ll continue to enjoy traipsing after my daughter this fall and into next summer as we travel to Junior Olympic softball tournaments throughout the Midwest.  Be sure to visit Warcats18Gold.com for more information about the team and if you’re nearby, be sure to come by and say hello at the Eleventh Annual St. Louis Softball Showcase in Chesterfield, MO Oct 31 – Nov 2.”

During my early radio days (’70s) there was tremendous pressure on the radio station to broadcast high school football and basketball games. We did some high school baseball but I don’t know that we ever found air time for girls softball. There just wasn’t enough time, staff or advertising support. And if one of the local radio stations didn’t broadcast the game… you had to be in the stands.

No more.

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