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Case Study: Microbrewery Taps Flash For Live Coverage of Annual Cycling Event

The definition of broadcasting continues to change as more companies and service providers move into the business of video streaming. More live video broadcasts over the internet are happening with the proven ability to reach new audiences, and the video quality of both live and on-demand broadcasts increase. One recent example is the New Belgium Brewing Company, which produced a successful live, mobile Flash broadcast for its Tour de Fat event in Ft. Collins, Colorado last fall.

StreamGuys, based in Arcata, Calif. is a streaming media provider offering a variety of streaming media solutions and tools, and a content delivery network and streaming service for distributing audio and video signals via the internet. The company, which has been in the business of streaming since 2000 after the company partners planted the seeds while in college, provided the live web streaming services for New Belgium Brewing’s Tour de Fat festival stop in Ft. Collins. The success of the event has opened the door for more collaboration between the two companies in 2008, while also proving the viability of the Flash streaming format for live web broadcasts.

In 2000, New Belgium Brewing launched an annual event called Tour de Fat, named after the brewery’s popular Fat Tire Amber Ale. Initially planned as an annual "philanthropic bicycle festival" in six cities, the unique event started with a morning bike ride followed by musical and theatrical events in the afternoon, with plenty of beer and food throughout the day. New Belgium teamed with bicycle or environmental non-profit organizations in each city, with earnings from beer and merchandise sales going to the non-profits. The idea was to create a theatrical spectacle with an important social cause.

The quality of the entertainment increased as the event grew in size and popularity. The tour expanded to 12 dates in 2007, with a full-time road crew of six members and spectator attendance in the range of 6,000 to 10,000 at each stop. Tour de Fat now regularly raises money for local charities, raises awareness for reducing waste streams, and culminates in a car/bicycle swap where the winner receives a custom Black Sheep New Belgium Commuter bike.

Choosing a Delivery Solution
The popularity of Tour de Fat, which is unlike anything else in the U.S. beer industry, encouraged New Belgium to produce a live webcast of the Ft. Collins event in the autumn of 2007. The main objective of the webcast was to produce an inclusive event with people that would otherwise have been unable to participate, using internet media to tell the story. The chief live streaming event was a five-mile bike ride parade that would bring the costumes, decorated bikes and entertainment to a global audience. The brewery contacted StreamGuys to provide consultation and a robust streaming network with global delivery of a live Flash event to thousands of viewers. StreamGuys supports a variety of streaming formats, including Windows Media, Flash, QuickTime and mp3. New Belgium requested Flash video service for the live stream and on-demand streaming following the event.

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