Melissa Kelly, Studio Producer for the Philadelphia Eagles, remembers March 13th, 2020 as if it were yesterday.
She and her crew were prepping for their show covering the NFL draft when they were told to carry as much equipment as they could and leave their offices in the stadium.
“They gave us one day to come back and grab some things that we didn’t have, and then we just started working from home for a while,” shares Kelly.
Sound familiar? The Philadelphia Eagles staff, like millions of professionals, had to leave their offices at a moment’s notice when pandemic lockdowns began. But unlike the Eagles staff, most people don’t work for a business based around massive live events like the NFL, and even fewer people are responsible for producing high-quality content with complex equipment.
Kelly paints a picture of the Eagles’ pandemic setup: "We had our talent all in their own homes, I was producing from my apartment at that time, we had our technical director with the switcher in his basement–it was wild."
The lockdown led Kelly and her crew to ask a big question: How would the Eagles adapt the world of live sports for a stay-at-home world?
Live streaming was the answer.
👋 Inviting football fans back in with live video
For the Eagles franchise, fans were always considered a part of the "team," watching games at the stadium and attending training camp. The pandemic put an abrupt stop to those time-honored traditions.
"One of the key things for us is being able to make sure that fans can still be able to see their team and feel like they are able to get as much of an experience as they usually [do]," says Kelly.
So the Eagles recreated those live experiences, virtually. The crew started live streaming practices during training, setting up two cameras so they could have a cutaway camera and a live shot of the field. They used Restream’s multi-streaming service to go live on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and more, making sure to meet fans wherever they were.
If you’ve ever met an Eagle’s fan, you know they’re very passionate and very vocal. Going virtual didn’t stop them from sharing their opinions. Fans constantly interacted with the show hosts and with each other in the comments section.
“It's a great way to connect with fans, but it's also a great way for fans to connect with each other," shares Kelly.
🤩 Expecting the unexpected: tips for live streaming sports
While all live streaming requires quick thinking, live streaming sports can be especially unpredictable. The Eagles’ video crew and hosts don’t know the outcome of a game until 30 seconds before they go live with their post-game show.
Kelly explains that it can be a challenge to create the kind of content you prefer when fans are unhappy about a draft pick, a game loss, or a losing season. Luckily the production crew is well prepared for everything from surprise results to unexpected technical glitches.
The Eagles’ production team has developed an approach to their live videos after a loss. First thing’s first, stay calm. Don’t let disappointment or anger jostle you. Second, deliver the facts. Remember that your job is to report on the events and outcome of the game no matter what. Finally, look for the silver lining. Mention plays that went well and lessons learned. Overall, remember that fans come to Eagles live streams in part to hear commentary and insights, so deliver on those expectations.
Kelly’s crew is prepared to address any outcome on their live shows. But what happens when a video cuts out mid-stream? They have a gameplan for that too:
- Don’t panic.
- Have a backup graphic ready to crash out to buy 10 seconds.
- Bring the audio down.
- Try to resolve the issue.
Over time, the Eagles have developed tried and tested strategies for live streaming sports from home, in the face of any outcome or technical challenge. If you’re involved with a high school, college, or regional sports team, take The Eagles’ live video best practices to heart.
Melissa Kelly’s number one tip for people getting started with live streaming sports?
“Be persistent and don’t give up.”