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Webcasting A Live Event

Q: What are the economics and questions that need to be asked when considering a live webcast of an event?

    A: Live webcasting, as well as on-demand streaming, are becoming increasingly popular, offering multi-dimensional, multi-media content and a constant flow of new information. In order to produce a live webcast, you must have the appropriate hardware (compression stations), software, licensed streams, broadcast servers, and bandwidth (as well as appropriate audio and video equipment). You also have to figure out whether the webcasting will be handled by the same company who will be doing the filming and other video and audio production or post-production. Some, companies, such as TV onthe WEB, provide a full-service solution; others can handle various parts of the process working with your own company or others.

    The following questions are the first things to consider for a live webcast to assess cost and logistics:

  • How long is the webcast? Is it more than one day? How many hours each day?
  • What (and where) is the site location? How accessible is it? Can an ISDN line be installed, or does satellite need to be used?

    Use of an ISDN line to send a compressed signal is the most cost effective way of webcasting. Temporary ISDN line installation is in the $350-500 range. If a satellite is used, the following factors must be considered (and added to the bill): uplink cost, downlink cost, and number of hours of dedicated satellite time. (Cost of an uplink is typically $2,000/day; downlink cost is $1000/day; and satellite time is $1,000/hr.

  • What Kps stream rate? 28.8k? 56? 100? Or numerous formats at the same time?

    The average home user is still on a 28.8 modem, therefore thought should be given to the target audience. Are they viewing from home or work? The recent tendency is to stream in 28.8 and 56K for those watching in offices.

  • What streaming formats are preferred? RealVideo? NetShow? RealVideo is still ahead of the game and in front of NetShow, but it's a client preference call.
  • How many viewers do you anticipate? How high profile of an event is this? Large,like the Internet Birth that had 10,000 simultaneous viewers, or targeted to a smaller corporate audience?
  • Do you want this to be a password-protected site?
  • Is this a pay-per-view application which needs e-commerce applications such as Cyber Cash?)
  • Will the same company do video production and webcasting? If so, how many cameras are needed? Is a roving camera necessary?
  • Who supplies audio?
  • What kind of lighting is needed?
  • Is "talent" needed, such as a professional news anchor?
  • What sort of after-event analysis will you need? Will you want the archive video available on your site after the event?
  • Who is responsible for the webcast promotion? (If the world doesn't know about it, the world will not come.)

    The two most crucial cost elements to a live webcast are the number of simultaneous streams (based on the number of anticipated viewers), and the length of the program. With that in mind, ball park estimates for a half-day webcast (with 100 simultaneous streams) could cost as little as $5,000. A full-day webcast, with unlimited simultaneous streams could run upwards of $15,000 or more, depending up on the intricacy of the video production. [Lisa Amore of TV onthe Web, lamore@tvontheweb.com].

 

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