Case Study: Online Fight Channel — Niche Sport Webcasting That Pays

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Once they have completed the shoot, they pass the content and edit decision list (EDL) to Final Cut Pro for a cleanup and then export to an MPEG-2 mezzanine file.

This all allows the team to keep the amount of preparation time to a minimum, and it keeps their operating costs to an absolute minimum. It also means that postproduction can be completed on-site or on the journey home.

Oliveira uses Ooyala’s online video publishing (OVP) platform to publish the content. He gave me a tour of the process and it looks slick. Once he logs in to the back end/administration site, he has a range of publishing tools that provide him with WYSIWYG control of the look and feel of his player and syndication and also to introduce interstitials and preroll adverts.

The mezzanine MPEG-2 file is then uploaded and transcoded to the desired output format. Once the content is ready, Oliveira then has UI control to publish it as he needs to and the content goes live.

Ooyala’s service, as with many of these OVPs, also offers detailed reporting and logging, which provides Oliveira with the insight as to what works and what doesn’t as far as his end users are concerned.

Finally, he also showed me how he could simply turn on a live stream player on his site (through the Ooyala service) and, by entering some simple URL, username and password details into a copy of Flash Media Live Encoder, he could instantly publish live events online. This means that he can take two cameras, a small mixer and a mic and ultimately produce live ju-jitsu event coverage with a team of just two or three. Live interviews could, in theory, be done by just one person. It’s true webcasting.

And that’s exactly what he has been doing, with growing frequency and to ever-increasing audiences. Having initially streamed last autumn’s World Championships from Barcelona to several thousand avid fans, the demand for his service is growing, and he is scheduling a much wider series of coverage this year. The costs are as low as possible and this means that not only can he operate within the tight budgets that the sponsors of a niche sport have, but he can reinvest in the model so it can scale up and deliver more and more events.

There have been so many entrants into this space over the years, many of whom set up without a clear focus on the content they wanted to produce and deliver, and with TV world budget ideas. They usually burn out quickly. That’s not what streaming media is about for me: it’s about democratising production and broadcast by lowering costs and working with lower production values—however, as Oliveira and Online Fight Channel prove, working within a confined budget doesn’t mean the quality has to be poor.

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