Although always a bit awkward to discuss, do get a feel for “how much budget is there?” While you will usually get a generalization, responses to this typically fall into two zones:
- • TV standard - Quality priority over budget. Essentially want to do “targeted” TV.
- • Adds value standard - Not really got a budget but will cover human resource costs. Can't we use YouTube Live for free?
Surprisingly, from a webcast operations point of view, and in my own opinion, while the “TV standard” type of events are typically higher profile, and therefore of great value to the webcasters acumen, in terms of profitability the “Adds value” option will usually require much less preparation time, and lower risks, ultimately returning a similar profit per hour of work contributed when you account for every hour of work required in planning for the “TV standard” higher fee events.
If you want to deliver your live event content online with the same service level agreement that TV broadcasters expect, then a simple strategy would be to send your contribution feed via satellite to a satellite aggregator (or similar), and produce the event exactly as if it were a TV program, but simply encoding the final output at the production “playout” facility. Often the webcaster in this situation is actually asked to compress a video source provided on a serial digital interface (SDI) with embedded audio. The compression unit contains all the configuration options to encode the video to a compressed form and then to transmit that over a network link to a remote counterpart unit in the target facility. The job is almost identical to that of a traditional satellite news gathering (SNG) link provider. Indeed there is so much crossover operationally that increasingly the SNG link's role is encompassing webcast compression and is being termed digital news gathering (DNG).
DNG engineers these days will usually configure their field encoder to send the stream directly to the CDN's origin server, although sometimes that may first be at a broadcast facility that wishes to modify the stream before forwarding it to the CDN.
While the travel prospects are exciting (!), once the link is established, there is little to do but wait for the event to finish or a problem to need your local hands. It can involve a lot of coffee (!).