The Professional Disc Golf Association, in cooperation with its media partners Todocast.tv and EPlanet Media, presented live Internet broadcasting from the 2009 United States Disc Golf Championship at Winthrop University in South Carolina Oct. 7-10. The production, which ran approximately six hours on each of the four days, was the first for the sport and was viewed by fans in 46 nations.
“With the satellite uplink support from Todocast.tv and the incredible production expertise of EPlanet Media, this project far exceeded our expectations,” says John G. Duesler Jr, PDGA director of marketing and communications and executive producer for the broadcast. “The first time you do anything is always a learning experience, and there were certainly some hiccups during our over 22 hours of broadcasting. Yet our global disc-golf community flooded our messaging systems with overwhelming support and praise for the show. Now they want more.”
The disc-golf broadcast used six JVC GY-HD 110 cameras connected via CAT-5e cable to seven locations throughout the course and one studio setup. Cameras provided both video and audio feeds to the production trailer. The trailer was outfitted with two NewTek TriCaster Studio six-camera switchers, a Mackie pro audio mixer, Kulabyte Xstream Flash encoder, Telex wireless intercom system, Digital Rapids StreamZ encoder, and series of wireless transmission devices that allowed the trailer to accept radio-frequency audio feeds over the challenging topography, which included holes both on sloping elevations and within lakeside valleys.
The championship was streamed at 700 kbps (600 kbps, video; 100 kbps, audio) using EPlanet Media’s 96-cm uplink dish, which operates through a mobile IP-based satellite-transmission protocol. From the dish, the Todocast support infrastructure provided an uplink target to the Geo orbiting Galaxy 18 satellite. The signal was downlinked at one of two Todocast teleports and then into the content-distribution network (CDN), which distributed the live stream to the global audience with an average latency of only 4-5 seconds.
More than 7.400 disc-golf fans viewed the show, through two video on-demand portals: one that allowed for donations and one that required no credit-card information. Nearly 1,000 of the registered viewers opted for the donation portal. Once logged in, viewers were able to watch tee-to-green action on seven holes, while commentators called the action from a studio monitor that received a live stream from the switcher. In addition, viewers were able to interact with the on-air personalities through a Viewer Participation Window, where more than 11,400 comments were posted over the four days of coverage.
“We’ve done it now,” Duesler jokes. “With the success of our first live tournament coverage, our fans are already calling for all our 2010 PDGA National Tour events to be broadcast through this Internet Broadcast System. My challenge now is to bring more corporate support on board, so that they too can benefit from disc golf’s image, as well as our extremely loyal fan-base.
“I’ve been promoting disc golf to companies as a potent branding vehicle for over 20 years.” he continues, “and their response has essentially been the same: prove it. With the enormous success of our first project now in the can, I am confident that the marketing and branding potential of disc golf will be more fully appreciated.”
Footage is still available of all four days at www.todocast.tv/pdga and www.todocast.tv/pdga/nodonation