Do you want to succeed on Twitch? Advices for broadcasting sports events
People who plan to initiate in the audiovisual content creation should pay special attention to Twitch. This platform is on its best moment: its leadership on content streaming is indisputable. Twitch is way far beyond its competitors when we talk about the number of users who consume live content. This data just increase day after day. That means we are at the right moment if we plan to ride the wave: Twitch’s bubble raises every day and specialised media states that this will not change in a long term. Pandemic era hasn’t done anything but multiply this factor, turning the platform in the most influential in our country (even above YouTube). There are 7 million new users every day.
There is a huge variety of content in the platform for all tastes. While one of the most consumed categories is Just Chatting (which consists of someone talking to the camera), the broadcasting of videogames and live sports is at its best.
The major downside with Twitch is that it can be more difficult to get up and running than other platforms. Instead of recording, editing and uploading directly, Twitch requires third-party software to serve as a control center for broadcasting, as if it were a television set on our monitor. Through the software, we can add different cameras, microphones, background music or labels among many other elements used to set up the show, adjust them and use them as and when we want easily. At first it is complex, but once you earn skill with the software, it becomes child’s play where the only limit is imagination.
The basics: how to create an account
We can complete the registration process from the website in our computer or through the app on smartphones. The steps are few and simple.
First, we have to access the website and click on register, in the upper right corner. A new menu will pop up and we will have to fill it with our data. It is recommended that we choose a secure password and try to keep it safe. It is always advisable to use a password generator to make it as secure as possible.
Once we have our account confirmed (via email or text message to our phone), it is advisable to take a tour of the platform to see how it works and how other users post their content. For example, if we are interested in sports broadcasts, we have to start looking for channels and live broadcasts that are dedicated to it and follow them. The algorithm of the platform will gradually adjust to our preferences and show us relevant content on the main page.
It is very important to make our profile attractive to the public: «If your profile is well designed, your visits will increase considerably and it will be much easier for you to become a star of the social network» (Bloygo, 2020). An eye-catching, well-designed profile has better chances of attract new users. It is very important to constantly update it with links to our websites and social profiles, so it become easy to find us. It’s really important to find a good nickname: choosing the right nickname is the thing we have to dedicate more time to, because it is going to become a brand, our seal.
It is easier to say it than to do it. Anticipating new trends will produce a massive increase of new subscribers. Combined with a good promotion on social networks, it can save us a lot of time and effort on this arduous path.
Although it is very difficult to anticipate a trend, what is not so difficult is to differentiate yourself from other streamers. Differentiation can be the breaking point on every Twitch channel. Differentiate yourself and succeed. This is the cornerstone of any content creation platform.
Regularly update social networks
«New streamers on Twitch often overlook the power of social media in building their brands» (Juego y Streaming, 2021). Today’s reality consist on the interaction between people. Social networks occupy a large part of users’ time: Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are great springboards in which we can promote content, keeping our followers up to date. They will know the content we upload or the next events that we are going to cover and broadcast.
One of the best uses that can be given to social networks is the posting of content previews: lives, trailers, banners, and even posters of everything we have planned. That way, we can create hype and moreover, make clear the dates of broadcasts. Of all the range of possibilities that we have at our disposal to promote ourselves, social networks are the most direct, easy and fastest way.
What we need
The choice of hardware is more complicated than the software one, since it is something that directly depends on the type of content that we are going to create. On the other hand, the software can be the same for any type of content that we create, although the configuration varies.
There are a number of different programs we can use to control our Twitch livestreams. OBS Manager, being the most used one, is an open-source (free to use) program that collects most of the required tools to have a tv production set in our computer. Nevertheless, it’s not the only one available. Twitch has developed a new software with very similar tools: Twitch Studio.
An alternative to the conventional OBS is Streamlabs OBS. It’s very similar to OBS Manager since it was used as its base. The main difference is the interface, which is more intuitive and possesses more Twitch-oriented tools (as it was basically made to stream on the platform), and is also much more customizable. The application, unlike the traditional OBS, has a premium paid part, but it does not provide anything essential and the average user will not need it.
These softwares allow us to gather all the signals that are connected to our equipment and manipulate them as we want. We can create a scene and add the elements that we want to see. For example, if we wanted a scene to be a split screen with two cameras and a microphone, we would add the signal from both cameras and the microphone, resize them to our liking and that’s it. It is as easy as making several scenes with the content we want in each one (audio only, video only, everything, our logo, advertising…) and switching between them. We can even add animations to make the transition between scenes seem very smooth and professional.
We have to connect the application with our Twitch account and press the start button directly at the bottom left to start the broadcast.
The best thing about these software tools is that they offer us a lot of information about the visits we have, the profits we have gained, the points of greatest expectation and even sociodemographic data about our followers so that we have an idea of our target.
We have to be very clear about the type of content that we are going to produce, and then make a plan to decide what instruments are we going to need. For example, when broadcasting a videogame, we have to get a very capable computer, a suitable microphone and a webcam with certain attributes, among other things.
Some scenarios require more planning than others. If we want to broadcast a sports event, the planning will be complex and will depend on what we want to do.
We have to think about which planes are we going to cover to choose the number of cameras we are going to use, think if we are going to record the audio of the event to get a microphone, if we are going to make more extensive use of the audio casting on the event to get a mixing desk with several microphone inputs, a laptop for connecting all (which should have all the necessary inputs) and control the broadcast software, enough power sockets, etc.
Broadcasting an sports event
Let’s imagine that we want to broadcast a football game in the most professional way possible. We need the following:
- As many cameras as we want. One may be enough. The camera that we use must be able to connect to our computer so we can access the video signal from our production software. Many Canon and Sony cameras have an utility to connect directly to the computer via USB and broadcast the video signal. Thanks to this function, the signal can be used even as a good quality webcam. On the bad side, if we have a video capturer, we can connect the camera via HDMI to the capturer and the capturer to the computer to carry the signal. This method offers a much sharper image. We can connect several cameras and use OBS to organize, name and create scenes with them.
- Microphones: we have several options. The ideal option is to get a USB Mixer Desk (there are very cheap ones), with input for different microphones and analog control of their gains and volumes. These tables also have Phantom Power, the electrical power necessary for the microphones to work. On the other hand, we can get a hold of USB microphones and connect them to the ports of the computer. This, however, greatly limits the options and the range of manoeuvre. The audio signals are also handled with the OBS program.
- A connection point: The internet connection is the most important factor for streaming. We can have a spectacular set put together, but without connection to Twitch, we have nothing. We can connect to the establishment’s Wi-Fi, use our smartphone as an access point or get a portable router (that works by inserting our operator’s card).
- Others: Electric power must be taken into account. We need a multiple socket to allow us to plug in the laptop, the video cameras, the mixer desk (if needed) and other tools. It is also advisable to be careful with the cables, so that we can separate the cameras and microphones far from the equipment and from the power supply. It can also be done wirelessly. However, the delay that is added to the image and the loss of quality do not make this the best option.