Newark High School (Ohio) is broad­cast­ing its games using Hudl Focus and BlueFrame Production Truck to make up for lost gate revenue.

In blogs one and two of this series, we talked with two schools using Hudl Focus and Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) to broadcast their games. OBS is a free and popular option, but any software that accepts IP feeds as an RTMP video source will work with Focus. So Mat Dunham and Jeff Quackenbush of Newark High School chose BlueFrame Production Truck.

Since they’re operating at 15% capacity in their gym this fall, broadcasting with BlueFrame allows Newark to monetize their content with paywalls. Here’s how they implemented and marketed pay-per-view broadcasts, plus their best advice for schools getting started with streaming.

What’s your name and role at Newark High School?

My name is Mat Dunham and I’m the broadcast manager at Newark. My name is Jeff Quackenbush and I’m the athletic director and head boys’ basketball coach here.

How long has your team been broadcasting games?

We’ve been broadcasting games for four years now. Last year was our first year using the Focus camera, and this is our first year broadcasting with it.

How has using Hudl Focus changed your game day workflow?

We’ve only used Focus to broadcast our volleyball games so far, but it’s nice to not have to go set up the cameras. Now it’s already there, so all I have to do is log in and go. It might seem a little cumbersome to get everything set up right off the bat, but once it’s good to go, it’s really smooth.

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

There were no other cameras we looked into. We chose Focus because it makes it so much easier to get game film, but we also use it a lot during practice. It’s just made life easier during practice because we don’t have to find a manager to go set up the camera and record. We only have a limited amount of time in the gym so it’s been a huge help for us.

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

We started broadcasting four years ago and noticed right away that our audience was pretty small. We were probably getting seven or eight people watching and it was mainly just grandparents. Then as we moved on, we’ve started to see that we’re getting more of an audience of people that couldn’t come to the games.

This year, we’re doing pay-per-view for the first time to try and make up for lost gate revenue. Over the last couple of years, we’ve noticed a lot more interaction with fans. I have people emailing asking about away games and noticing we’re broadcasting, so I definitely think it’s brought more attention to our teams.

What’s your primary purpose for broadcasting?

This year it’s been monetization because revenue is going to be way down this fall. We’re only operating at 15% capacity in our venues right now.

But prior to that, it was just providing the service for people who can’t make it to the games in-person, but it’s also a big teaching opportunity. This year it’s just me running it but in the last few years, it’s been a student-run program. So they’re filming, doing commentary and producing—we teach them to do all those things.

What are some of the ways you monetize your stream?

At this point, the only monetization is coming from pay-per-view. We’ve talked about doing some commercials, but first we want to understand more about our viewers before we go to businesses and ask them to sponsor us.

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

With the Focus camera, we’ve been using BlueFrame Production Truck for our broadcast software and then livestream it to different platforms from there. I usually try to do Vimeo, YouTube and Facebook because people have different preferences. 

At our football games, we’ve been setting up two 4K cameras. One that’s an overhead shot of the field and one that’s focused on the scoreboard so I can do picture in a picture.

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

We chose BlueFrame because my customer success manager, Shane, emailed that you guys had partnered with them. They’ve been really easy to work with. In late July, we found out we were going to have sports and had to figure out a new solution for what we were going to do. I ran with the first person that contacted me and gave me a good idea.

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

Right now, we do not. I’ve just been trying to keep up with everything happening from week to week. We have done audio for basketball in the past, but we haven’t done any commentary this year for football or volleyball.

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

The biggest hurdle was having to have my laptop plugged into the same network that Focus is on. That involved me getting IT here to help and they’re always super busy at the beginning of the school year. So that was probably the biggest stumbling block for us and might be something other schools deal with too. We’ve been doing this for a while but that extra step was the one thing out of our control. Once we got that taken care of, the software was pretty easy to learn so it hasn’t been hard. 

Was it difficult to implement pay-per-view and how did you market it?

We’ve also gone to online ticketing so when we confirm a game with another school, we send them the ticketing and broadcasting links so they can tell their fans and athletes. Our district sends out instructions to students and parents about where to go on the website to get that link too. All we had to do was put those games into BlueFrame and make a list of game times and dates, plus instructions on how to get to the broadcast.

We haven’t had anyone reach out and say they haven’t been able to find a broadcast, so I think it’s all been smooth.

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

Jeff: You need to find people to help you. It’s hard enough to be an athletic director when we aren’t dealing with a pandemic. Now we’re monitoring mask-wearing and social distancing, making sure people are sitting in the correct seats, and making sure coaches and kids are following all the protocols. It’d be impossible to handle all this on your own. Find someone like Mat who can run with it. He’s been a lifesaver for me. It’s going to take a group of people to pull everything off. 

Mat: Don’t try to do too much at once to get started. We started with a single camera set up and we’ve improved to have four cameras, two people on commentary and a producer. But if I had tried to jump straight into that, I would’ve quit. I just try to add one new thing a year to our broadcast.

The same goes for the Focus camera. I’m not trying to do too much. I just leave the angles and use the scoreboard overlay feature. Next year, maybe we start incorporating some advertisements into our broadcast, but just take it step-by-step. Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should.

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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