FOX Sports Throws Daytona 500 Infield Party using Wirecast from Telestream
Wirecast Restream used to simultaneously live stream to multiple sites
Considered the “Great American Race,” the 61st annual 2019 Daytona 500 NASCAR stock car race energized record crowds at the Daytona International Speedway, in Daytona Beach, Florida, on Sunday, February 17, 2019.
To drum up excitement for this FOX Sports “tent-pole” sporting telecast, FOX Sports Digital produced its first-ever “Daytona 500 Infield Party,” a live, second-screen experience that gave viewers the “inside track” on events taking place behind the scenes during the race.
The FOX Sports Digital production team used Wirecast software from Telestream to produce the 4.5-hour multi-camera live stream, hosted by FOX Sports Commentators Kaitlyn Vincie, Alan Cavanna, and Bob Pockrass, and two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip.
To maximize awareness of this high-profile FOX Sports broadcast, the “Daytona 500 Infield Party” was live streamed to five sites simultaneously, including:
- Gaming platform Caffeine.TV, and
- The FOXsports.com website
Wirecast enabled us to deliver our Infield Party live stream with the high production standards our viewers have come to expect from FOX Sports. Operationally, it allowed our relatively small, four-person crew to handle all aspects of the live production, and streamlined our production costs.
Normally, whenever the FOX Sports Digital crew operates on a FOX network infrastructure, which provides about 120 megabits/second, they have sufficient bandwidth to live stream to multiple social/online sites simultaneously. And, as an integrated switching, production, and encoding system, Wirecast software is inherently capable of outputting multiple live streams to different online destinations simultaneously as a direct ouput of the system.
The NASCAR-supplied 15 megabits/second bandwidth provided some challenges for five-destination streaming.
Given the bandwidth constraints at the Speedway, producers of the “Daytona 500 Infield Party” would have had to scale back their distribution plans from five to just one or two sites and forego the rest, were it not for the Telestream Cloud web service, Wirecast Restream.
Fortunately, because of Wirecast Restream, we only needed to send a single Wirecast upload stream to the Cloud. From there, Wirecast Restream reliably distributed it, with excellent quality, to all five of our planned destinations.
From within the Wirecast software environment, users can access the Wirecast Restream service from Telestream Cloud to distribute their live signal in real-time to all of the online platforms and audiences they want to reach. This capability saves uplink bandwidth while maximising compute power for the on-site, host computer. Users simply enter the list of target sites into a Wirecast Restream settings window, and the entire CDN process is handled reliably for them from Telestream Cloud.
During the day-long stream production, Wirecast served as the cornerstone of the Infield Party workflow, situated downstream from an external production switcher. Mayock, who served as both the live director and the technical director, operated Wirecast.
While Wirecast inherently handles live, multi-camera switching, Mayock decided to streamline this remote workflow by having the four broadcast cameras switched in the production switcher first, and then bring them into Wirecast as a single, mixed source, including the following:
- Two camera feeds transferred from the network’s massive broadcast trailer via fiber optic cabling to provide different viewing angles of the 2.5-mile oval track
- A live blimp aerial shot, also coming from the broadcast truck
- A camera used to shoot the on-set show
- A roving, wireless RF handheld camera for impromptu interviews
In this way, the production would only need to plug one capture card into the Wirecast computer to enable video capture and playback. In addition to the feed from the production switcher, Wirecast was also used to integrate other elements, including:
- B-roll video packages edited by an editor on the FOX Century City lot in Los Angeles, and then transferred to the Infield Party production team
- Broadcast graphics loaded onto the computer running Wirecast
- MOV and PNG image files, such as logos and driver profiles
At several points during the race, after multi-car wrecks occurred, the roving camera followed Michael Waltrip into the garage to capture interviews with the affected drivers and to check-out the damaged cars.
Another external device placed upstream of Wirecast was a digital audio board that was used to mix all audio sources, including the live mics. While Wirecast has its own digital audio mixing toolbox, this inherent capability was mainly used to equalize the program audio upon output.
One video program output was sent from Wirecast to on-set reference monitors to benefit the talent, while another output went to Telestream Cloud for multi-site distribution.
Despite the streaming bandwidth constraints at the venue, the first-ever “Daytona 500 Infield Party” live stream was a success. And according to Mayock and her production colleague Michael Jankolovits, Director of Video for FOX Sports Digital, Wirecast and Wirecast Restream played pivotal roles in that success.
This Infield Party is just one of the many live streams that FOX Sports has been producing. The network touts 21 consecutive months of growth for video viewing on its social and online platforms. The “Daytona 500 Infield Party” generated more than 350,000 views.
We’re planning to use both Wirecast and Wirecast Restream on future live stream remotes for FOX Sports Digital. These upcoming events include other 2019 NASCAR races, as well as high-profile sporting events, like the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup from Paris this July. Together, Wirecast and Wirecast Restream empower our relatively small production crews to do very big things. This technology is well-suited to delivering the high-quality, cross-platform experience FOX Sports viewers want to see.