Streaming production can be expensive…here is what you need to be prepared for.
Thinking about getting into live streaming events? The costs to begin webcasting/live-event streaming can be significant. In addition to staff and equipment, there are the costs of the actual streaming host service as well. But live streaming also opens up options for generating income that wouldn’t normally be available. Here are some of the primary costs involved with live streaming.
Obviously, you can’t stream anything without cameras. But hiring a broadcast quality cameraman for a day can easily cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Alternatively, if you are on a tight budget you can use a $50 webcam or a smartphone for streaming production but the production values will be very low.
A decent compromise is to use a consumer-level HD camcorder or DSLR camera. If you want professional results you may wish to consider hiring pros for every aspect of your production: cameraman, switcher, audio etc. but of course, that can get very expensive. A good place to shop around for the services you’ll need is productionhub.com.
What you hear is just as important as what you see. For simple productions with a talking head or two, a standard boom-pole mic may be sufficient. For larger events it is likely that numerous microphones will be needed, along with a mixing board, some wireless systems and, of course, an audio engineer to mix it all together. Luckily pro audio gear is typically much less expensive than pro video equipment and you can likely get by without having to spend too much money. Plus you can usually rent anything you need if a permanent purchase is not desired or is deemed unnecessary. In any case, do NOT neglect to provide good audio because if your audience cannot hear your message clearly it will likely be lost…and soon the audience will be lost as well. I created a brief video recently discussing typical audio for video techniques.
If you need to switch between multiple camera views or graphics during your stream it can get even more expensive. The gear you need can be rented but this cost is similar to hiring the camera operator. Renting or purchasing streaming encoders can get pretty expensive – likely your BIGGEST expense. For simpler events (and tight budgets), a higher-end laptop with FREE software may be an option to start off streaming production with and will save you some serious coin. Bear in mind that video is much more “watchable” when there are multiple camera angles used – nothing is as boring as watching a single static view for a long period of time (a great example being home movies). If you want to keep your audience captivated you MUST use multiple cameras. Period.
Bandwidth needs for streaming production are calculated by the number of expected viewers multiplied by the streaming rate. So 1,000 people viewing a 60-minute stream broadcast at 1,000 kbps will require approximately 500GB of bandwidth. The cost of this bandwidth can vary but typically starts at around $25/month for 100GB but decreases for higher values so you could get an additional 2,000 GB for under $200/month or even less with an annual subscription AV Webcast offers 1TB plans for as little as $100/month. If you know streaming is something you will be committed to for the long haul, it pays to choose the annual rates. There are a lot of technical details involved but your stream host should be able to handle most of those for you.
There may be even more costs after your event if you decide to market your video. These costs may include editing or disc authoring to prepare your product for distribution and can cost hundreds of dollars (sometimes even THOUSANDS) depending upon the length of the video and the amount of editing necessary. Animation and other post-production work may add even more to your upfront expenses. You MAY be able to minimize these costs by employing a young intern who is adept at these technologies – a growing number of public schools have sophisticated media departments that train students how to do video production (including editing/authoring and animation) as early as elementary school! You may be able to find one of these students who is eager to be part of your operation for a fraction of what a professional would charge.
In our next blog post, we will cover 10 ways to defray these streaming costs.