Raycom Taps Swarmcast To Bring ACC Tourney Online, in HD

By Carolyn Braff

Deciding to stream all 10 games of the last week’s 2009 men’s basketball ACC Tournament, Raycom Sports elected to skip the learning curve for entry-level streaming and jump right into high-definition. Partnering with Swarmcast, Raycom streamed the entire tournament within the ACC region at a 2-Mb stream, offering fans HD-quality video online, for free.

“We wanted our first foray into HD-quality live streaming to be able to provide the highest-quality viewing experience for our audience,” explains Colin Smith, VP of new media and distribution for Raycom Sports. “Raycom Sports is committed to quality, and Swarmcast was the best solution to deliver an HD-viewing experience with the flexibility of an open-technology platform.”

Basketball fans had the choice of a high-bitrate stream or a low-bitrate stream, but almost all viewers chose the HD-quality option.

“As Raycom’s first entry into streaming, they wanted to make sure that the content was available in the highest quality possible,” explains Kelly Egan, SVP of business development and sales at Swarmcast. “Many broadcasters are being very calculating about how they enter the market, and they’re choosing to go to the highest quality first. That is yet another proof point that sports viewers really want to view this stuff in high quality.”

To ensure a high-definition–quality viewing experience, Swarmcast tapped into Raycom’s HD television feed from their broadcast center.

“We brought that feed into our downlink facility and put it out in a high-definition–quality, high-bitrate Windows Media stream,” Egan explains, noting that Swarmcast’s Autobahn HD-streaming platform ensured that all viewers, no matter their connection, could tap into the high-quality content. Autobahn enabled Raycom Sports to stream the highest-quality, most reliable live video feed currently available.

“Viewers could access the high-bitrate stream from a hard-wired connection as well as WiFi,” Egan explains. “The reason why Raycom chose to work with us is our history of providing that sustainable quality for all those different audience configurations.”

The ad-supported endeavor had been in the works for a few months and was not only the first time Swarmcast had worked with Raycom but also Swarmcast’s first live HD Webcast of a sporting event.