A Buyer's Guide To Smart Cameras and Livestream Solutions
Trying to pick the right automatic capture and livestreaming solution for your high school? Here’s what to ask.
Technology changes quickly.
Think about the smartphone you had five years ago. Seems pretty ancient now, right? In this rapidly changing landscape, it’s easy to get lost in confusing terminology and fine print. We created this guide to help you understand the value and quality of the product you’re paying for and make informed decisions about which smart camera and livestreaming solution makes sense for your high school.
Interested in Hudl Focus? Get answers to all your questions about broadcasting, installation, cost and contracts.
Livestreaming & Broadcasting for High Schools
Ask about streaming platforms, media rights and ways to earn revenue.
It’s important to have flexibility when it comes to streaming platforms, monetization options and in-stream advertisements. Unfortunately, that’s not something every camera company offers. Ask how many streaming services the company partners with and if you have the freedom to decide who advertises on your streams. If you don’t want parents and fans to face a paywall, check into their options for free streaming services. Last but not least, ask about privacy. Some companies share video recorded on their cameras with media partners, allowing them to reproduce, transform and distribute it.
Questions to ask about Livestreaming & Broadcasting
How automated is the process for capturing film from the camera and putting it into livestream/broadcast production?
How much control do we have over our advertisements?
Can our school advertise in-production?
What control do we have over charging advertisement fees?
Can we choose who advertises with our school?
What's the cost for each product or service included in the livestream program?
How flexible are the camera’s streaming options?
How many/which platforms can our school stream to?
Can our school select the streaming service of our choice?
Are there any required contracts with a specific streaming partner? What are the terms of the contract?
How quickly can we monetize our livestream to generate revenue for our school?
Are there any upfront fees our school needs to pay to monetize our streaming content?
How much of the revenue do we get to keep?
What rights does the vendor have over my school’s video?
Will they resell our school’s content? If so, do we share in that revenue?
Can our school use the streamed content outside of the livestream? If no, why not?
Total Cost for Your Athletic Department
Watch out for hidden fees and additional costs.
The price of the camera doesn’t always tell the whole story, so it’s important to ask for details. Beware of anything that’s “free”—you’ll still need to pay sales tax and, in most cases, cover the cost of the installation out-of-pocket. Some camera solutions can be installed by you (or someone at your school) and will cost about $400 to get on the wall. Others have mandatory and expensive installation processes that require you to hire a contractor and can cost upwards of $2,500.
All of these expenses can add up quickly and might not be shared in initial sales conversations. It’s up to you to do the digging, but don’t worry—we put together a list of important questions to ask so you know exactly how much to budget for.
Questions to ask about Total Cost
What's the overall price of the camera?
Is it a one-time payment or yearly subscription?
Will I need to pay taxes? (Tip: If your school is tax-exempt, make sure you get that form to the vendor!)
What's the average cost to install?
Will I need to hire a contractor, or can I install it myself?
Does the camera come with installation hardware or will I need to purchase that?
Does the camera require separate software to operate?
Does that software enable me to provide game and practice analysis?
Does the camera upload automatically to Hudl?
What’s the price for any software the camera requires?
Does our school get a new camera if there’s a technology improvement during the contract period? Is there an associated cost for the upgrade?
Is there a warranty on the camera?
If it breaks, do I cover the cost of a new camera?
Is there an additional fee for a new installation?
If there’s no free replacement option, what’s the cost to replace the camera and reinstall it?
Contracts & Agreements
Get the details on contract lengths, cancellation fees and ownership.
We’re all guilty of clicking the “I Agree” box after only skimming the terms and conditions page—but it’s important to read the fine print so you don’t get trapped in a bad deal. Technology changes quickly. If you sign a five-year contract for a camera, chances are you’re missing out on new features and capabilities by year three. You should ask the vendor about contract length options, as well as cancellation fees, before you’re stuck in a long-term contract your program can’t afford to leave early.
This is also the time to get clarity on if you own the camera after payment, or if you’re leasing it from the company. Why? Leasing means you get free hardware upgrades and replacements as the product improves. If you own the piece of hardware, you usually need to pay more to reap the benefits of the updated version. Think about an iPhone. You get software updates occasionally, but if you want a clearer camera or a bigger screen, you need to pay. Again.
Questions to ask about Contracts & Agreements
What’s the duration of the contract?
How many cameras are included in the contract?
Is there an exit fee if our school decides to end the contract early?
Is the exit fee prorated based on how long our school stayed in the contract?
Is there an exit fee for each camera?
Are there additional camera removal fees?
Will I own the camera after payment, or am I leasing it?
Make sure the camera works in your space, within your capabilities and on your timelines.
Before you find yourself on a ladder for multiple hours or rewiring your gym, see what you can learn about your camera’s installation process. To start, make sure your gym or field is compatible with the camera’s requirements. You might have to relocate a state championship banner so the camera has a clear view of the court, or make changes to the existing environment, including running ethernet cables and installing servers.
After you understand the camera’s requirements, ask how you’ll get it mounted on a wall. Some companies have clear, intuitive processes and helpful onboarding materials that walk you through how to install the camera yourself. Others hand you a 50-page user manual and require you to hire a contractor to mount and connect the camera.
Questions to ask about Installation
Does my school’s gym or field work with the camera specifications?
How long does it take to get a camera shipped after payment so I can plan for installation day?
Can someone from my school install the camera?
If so, how long does it take on average?
What will we need to install the camera?
Will I need to hire a contractor and rent any equipment to get it installed?
What equipment should I look into?
What are the internet cable requirements?
Can our school hardwire internet to the camera location on our own?
What's the average cost to have the gym wired and “camera-ready”?
Will the camera provider charge me anything for installing the camera?
What is the breakdown of each charge that goes into the total cost to install?
Does the camera provider supply wiring services?
Does the camera provider still require an installation fee even if I use union labor? If so, what's the fee?