Clinton-Massie High School (Ohio) is giving fans new ways to watch games using Hudl Focus, Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), Facebook and YouTube.

In the first blog of this series, we showed you how Ashville High School’s (Ala.) media department is using Hudl Focus and OBS to engage their fans and help their student-athletes stand out. But it doesn’t end there—Matt Baker of Clinton-Massie High School has been taking it up a notch with live commentary, advertisements and custom graphics. 

Broadcasting games isn’t new to Baker. He’s been doing it for more than seven years, thanks to his old gym not having air conditioning. But now he’s motivated by more than just hot temperatures. Baker wants to give fans who can’t attend games a chance to support their favorite athletes from afar. 

This fall, he started using Hudl Focus as the video source in his broadcasts, saving him time, effort and manpower. Here’s the full rundown.

What’s your name and role at Clinton-Massie High School?

My name is Matt Baker and I’m the athletic director here.

How long has your school been broadcasting games?

We started with Campus Nation about seven years ago. It started as a radio broadcast and we’ve been using that broadcasting workflow for the last six years. Now we’re able to broadcast with Hudl Focus and OBS.

How has using Hudl Focus changed your game day workflow? 

At first, it was great that we didn’t need to have a student to record the game. It helped us become more efficient in our workflow. The broadcast workflow is really going to help us now that we’re able to use the RTMP feed and put it into OBS. We’ll add commentating, put it together, and send it out to our Facebook and YouTube channels.

Focus makes it a lot easier when you can schedule everything in Hudl and the Focus camera picks it up. I use my phone all the time to schedule practices for coaches. The other night, I was sitting down, eating dinner. One of my coaches had put the incorrect time in her schedule entry so Focus didn’t start. I opened my phone, made a couple of changes, the green light came on and she was good to go.

Did you look into any other smart cameras? Why did you choose Hudl Focus?

No, I guess the only one we were really focused on was Hudl Focus since we already have a relationship with [Hudl]. We’ve used [it] for football, girls’ and boys’ basketball, and we’ve added volleyball since then. So really that’s the only smart camera we were interested in looking at.

What benefits does broadcasting provide your school, athletes and fans?

Again, attendance is probably number one. People being able to attend on a digital platform makes it very accessible. The recordability allows people to review the recordings of the game [on Facebook and YouTube] at their own leisure. People will tell me, “Hey, I didn’t get to see the game, but I was able to go back and scan through a few parts I heard about.”

What does your broadcasting workflow look like? What software do you use and do you send it to a livestream platform from there?

It’ll be new this year for us now that we can broadcast with Hudl Focus. Prior to that, we would use Hudl Focus to livestream to YouTube with no commentary. Then, we had a separate broadcast feed where we’d put four angles together (one from each corner of the gym). We’d use OBS to combine those four angles. We’d add audio commentary and fix the latency, and boom, you’re ready to go.

Now that we have that, we’re going to use OBS. We’ll use audio from the RTMP feed and from our broadcasting soundboard. We’ll push it through to Facebook and YouTube at the same time. We’re looking forward to not having to manually send to those two platforms anymore with this new workflow. YouTube will be our main avenue, but Facebook will also be able to take that feed and embed it into our timeline.

Why did you decide to broadcast your Focus video rather than streaming it directly to YouTube?

The audio was the main reason. We wanted to add audio commentary to the picture feed.

How did you decide on the broadcast software you chose? Were there any others you looked into?

We also looked into vMix. It’s pretty similar to OBS, but ultimately we went with OBS because it’s free. Plus, there are a lot of plug-ins available. I can add lower thirds and get any design, background and virtual set for free. A lot of private developers have put some time and effort into making plug-ins for OBS because it’s so common and widely used. For vMix, I’d have to purchase all those plug-ins, on top of what I’m paying to use the software.

OBS is also very easy to use, I actually found vMix to be a little more cumbersome. OBS seems really easy to use to me. It’s very efficient in explaining what each input is. But you do have to understand that if you’re getting free software, there might a little glitch every once in a while. Because you’re not paying $4,500 for a broadcast software, you’ll need to restart your computer or the software every once in a while to fix a glitch.

Why did you decide to also livestream to YouTube and Facebook?

I think just because they’re so popular. I’m actually not a huge fan of Facebook, but that’s where a lot of our parents are. YouTube covers a larger range of people which is why I gravitate towards that one.

Do you add anything to make your broadcast more dynamic? (Live commentary, custom graphics, advertisements, etc.)

We have before, the production will have to be reinvented now that we’re using Focus to broadcast. I want to make sure the view that shows the scoreboard and clock is seen and a lot of times, that’s in the lower third.

It’s really easy stuff. Names of presenters, announcers and coaches. We might present an award during a game so we’ll put some graphics on that in the broadcast. We don’t have video embedded or anything like that.

What are some of the ways you monetize your broadcast?

We looked at paywalls for the first time this year because of the limited capacity in our gyms and stadiums. Our high school football team is exceptionally good and we have a lot of people who come to those games. I thought we should create a paywall (either pay-per-view or season passes) and honestly, out of goodwill, I decided to keep it free. I didn’t want to tell people they can’t come in and then they have to pay.

We did go get sponsors though. We’ll read static copy or put a logo in the lower third opposite of the scoreboard to promote them. That’s how we make money off our streams. And it was pretty easy to get started with the lower third plug-ins. You can actually just create a Google slide and use that as a video input. There are really simple workarounds for it that don’t cost any money.

What was the hardest part about getting set up with a broadcast software?

Truthfully, it wasn’t that hard to get started. If I didn’t already have the broadcast understanding I do, it’d probably just be the time it takes to look up the YouTube videos. That’s how I learned 75% of what I do—just type in what I want to learn on YouTube and watch those tutorial videos.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to a team getting started with broadcasting?

Just don’t give up. There are going to be technological glitches. Continue to work through those with your technology department—they’re really smart people. Don’t lose hope if you hit a few roadblocks. 

Also, make sure you do your research to know what type of account you need to have to stream to Facebook and YouTube. There are different criteria for both and they change often, so make sure you do your research before you get everything set up for a game.

Ready to stream your Focus video? Check out the broadcasting and livestreaming guide to see your options and learn how it works.

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