Cheesehead TV Streams to Fans Live From Packers Training Camp
As the cofounder of CheeseheadTV.com, an independent website devoted to the Green Bay Packers, I’m always looking for innovative ways to engage the fanbase. We stream multiple live webcasts every week, including our flagship show Packer Transplants (or, “Two Guys Who Think They Know Something about Football”) on our Cheesehead TV livestream.com enterprise account. We have been on Livestream for more than 6 years and love it—especially the flagship product, Livestream Studio. [Full disclosure: I used to work for Livestream. Also full disclosure: I am a diehard Packers fan.]
After losing the NFC Championship by the thinnest of margins and by keeping the roster mostly intact, expectations for the Packers this season are high. Accordingly, Cheesehead TV kicked off the season by going big from the very beginning.
On the first day of Packers training camp in July, we webcast an exclusive show, live from Stillmank Brewery, our show’s beer sponsor. (Stillmank is a local Green Bay brewery that makes Wisco Disco, the first microbrew ever sold at Lambeau Field during games.) With an invitation-only audience of Packers superfans, the show’s success served as our jumping-off point to push the envelope on the rest of our training camp coverage.
Back in May, I downloaded Teradek’s Live:Air. I was intrigued by the potential to switch a show from an iPad. As a live broadcast producer, the notion of wireless streaming via multiple wireless devices sounded daunting (and just a little bit crazy), but I knew there had to be multiple use cases where this technology could have a big impact, and in some instances, even make it feasible to produce a show that would’ve been impossible otherwise.
Since we started Cheesehead TV in 2007, we’ve covered training camp using the CoverItLive live blog platform, which enables fans all over the world to interact with each other and see updates in real time with photos and text. However, CoverItLive does not have live video capability. We started with context gained from our NFL Draft coverage this year, where we incorporated both live blog and video, by streaming for 3 days from our studio with the live blog on the left side and a video player on the right side of our homepage.
Our three-camera live show, Packer Transplants, streams from Stillmank Brewery.
We contributed to the fan experience by offering a supplement to network television, and the viewer experience was clean. The two-component coverage meant the live blog would be continuous, even if the video happened to go down. For the upcoming season, we’ll build and enhance that combination method.
For those new to the ways of the Green Bay Packers, training camp is a fun and circus-like family experience that is best seen in person. In a tradition started sometime in the ‘60s during Vince Lombardi’s tenure, the players borrow bikes from Green Bay children to ride from the stadium to the practice field. It’s a great opportunity for fans to get an up-close, personal experience with the players, and it was the perfect opportunity for us to try out the Live:Air software to bring that experience to fans worldwide.
For setup, we used one iPad Air 2, one ASUS Router powered by battery and attached to a Verizon 4G-LTE card, one GoPro HERO 3+ Black connected via Teradek VidiU Mini (which our technical director, Nick Micozzi, wore on his head while he was switching on the iPad), and one Sony PMW-300 connected via Teradek VidiU Mini that received audio from a wireless handheld mic for our cofounder, Sports Illustrated NFL analyst Aaron Nagler. The iPad provided our third camera, and we added custom graphics (two-box background, lower-thirds, transparent quad grid, and slates).
The biggest challenge was choosing the router and configuring it to work with our 4G card. We chose the ASUS AC3200 because it provides two 5GHz and one 2.5GHz Wi-Fi channel, and it is made for larger-bandwidth applications. It took a little tweaking to get the router configured properly with a 4G card. (Check out our how-to video and more setup info at livex.tv/ipadstreaming.) While support techs from either company weren’t able to help, significant internet research and new login variables in the router’s USB 4G settings got us connected, after which the 4G card became plug-and-play.
Capturing the most fun part of Packers training camp, where players borrow bikes from local kids and ride them from Lambeau Field to the practice field
The second challenge was powering the router with a battery. Thankfully, retailers such as B&H Photo have many D-Tap adapters that work with various DC inputs. (Note: When trying to use this approach, check the connector sizes and power requirements of your router.)
After we had the wireless router working and connected to the internet, we connected the VidiU Minis to the iPad. iPhone and Android VidiU apps allow Wi-Fi configuration on the VidiU Minis. Using the app, we connected each Mini to our router’s Wi-Fi channel. We did the same with the iPad and launched Live:Air, on which the Minis showed up automatically as camera input sources. We then accessed the iPad’s rear-facing camera as the third source for our show.
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