Daktronics Helps Iowa State Deliver In-Venue Content to Web

Long known for in-venue video displays, Daktronics is finding success on the smaller screen, helping the Iowa State Athletic Department upgrade its online video-production capabilities.

Iowa State University launched the Cyclones.tv digital network last August as a way to distribute live and on-demand athletics content to desktops, tablets, and smartphones. The workflow comprises Daktronics’ Show Control System and a NewTek TriCaster, which allows the university to stream in-venue video to Cyclones.tv.

Cyclones.tv broadcasts Iowa State's third-tier rights, including women's basketball, wrestling, volleyball, and gymnastics.

Cyclones.tv broadcasts Iowa State’s third-tier rights, including women’s basketball, wrestling, volleyball, and gymnastics.

“Cyclones.tv is off to a phenomenal start in just six months,” says Tyler Rutherford, director of Website services at Iowa State. “Our subscriber base is number two in our Web provider’s streaming network, which includes schools such as LSU, Oregon, Nebraska, and Duke. Our new equipment upgrades and graphics package have allowed us to deliver broadcast-quality streams to digital, and now linear, platforms. Our fans and even our Big 12 Conference counterparts have taken notice of the increase in quality of our broadcasts.”

Portability and Customization
Previously, for untelevised tier-three athletics events, Iowa State streamed a single in-venue camera feed to the athletics Website, with radio play-by-play. Because that camera fed the in-venue video production, viewers at home would receive a game feed interrupted, for example, by crowd shots and fan prompts.

“[Iowa State] wanted to spruce that up and have more camera angles and more of a broadcast-style production that was going to be sent out to the Web,” says Bryan Perry, event producer, Daktronics. “A hybrid of what we’re doing in the arena is also being put out to the Web to serve both audiences.”

Iowa State 2

Iowa State can broadcast from anywhere on campus, as long as the TriCaster is connected to the campus network.

Daktronics built a portable rack with an eight-input NewTek TriCaster 855, intercom system, and stats integration. The Show Control System provides a combination of display-control software, video processing, data integration, and playback hardware. Because the rack is not tethered to a control room, Iowa State can apply the workflow to various events across campus.

The four Sony PMW-350 cameras that feed the in-house production (Iowa State’s Jack Trice Stadium and Hilton Coliseum each have Daktronics video displays) now feed the online stream.

“I’m able to send multiple camera angles into that TriCaster, so [the Web feed is] getting the same camera angles as everybody in the arena,” explains Perry, who directs the in-venue show. “But [it has] the flexibility now, when we go to some sort of promotion in the arena, [it] can go to something else on the Web.”

The equipment enables Iowa State to cut to commercial, sponsor messages, statistical layouts, and more. Daktronics Creative Services also provided a content package including lower thirds, side bars, and other templates to help brand the online stream for Iowa State.

“I think this shows Daktronics’ depth as a company,” says Perry. “We are usually thought of in terms of LED displays, but we’ve provided custom content and event support that’s able to serve two separate audiences.”

Daktronics for the Small Screen
To push feeds to Cyclones.tv, Iowa State plugs the TriCaster into the university’s campus network, which send the feeds to NeuLion in Sanford, FL. The feeds are demuxed and sent to multiple server locations throughout the country.

Cyclones.tv live content is delivered to a NeuLion-built video player at 3 Mbps, with options to stream at 3,000 kbps 2,200 kbps, 1,600 kbps, and 800 kbps. A full-price subscription to Cyclones.tv will cost $9.95 per month or $79.95 yearly.

Fans with iPads can purchase the official Iowa State Athletics iPad app and stream live Cyclones.tv content. Currently, streaming video is not available for iOS and Android devices; archive/on-demand video content and live streaming audio of Cyclones.tv events are available with the purchase of the premium Iowa State Athletics mobile app and Cyclones.tv subscription.

“It’s just been taking everything we’ve done to a whole other level,” says Rutherford. “We were actually able to strike a deal with Mediacom, which is a local television organization here in the state of Iowa. They’ve looked at the content we’ve done, and our broadcast quality is good enough that they are now putting it on TV. Essentially, we do all the work, and they’re tapping in via different fiber patches to send our broadcast to master control, and they put it on TV. It’s definitely unique.”