Fox Sports’ ‘Quadcast’ Leverages Live Streaming on Periscope, Facebook, YouTube, Fox Sports GO
The innovative digital-talk-show model will be featured during Super Bowl Week
In an age of high-quality cellphone cameras and direct-to-live streaming platforms like Periscope and Meerkat, producing fresh, new, and interactive live content for fans is quicker, easier, more direct, and cheaper than ever before — by a staggering amount. Now even Fox Sports, one of the nation’s largest sports broadcasters, is using these new live-video outlets to grow the brands of its network and personalities.
In December, the network launched a first-of-its-kind talk-show concept with provocative college-football commentator Clay Travis that is live-streamed simultaneously on four platforms: Periscope, Facebook Live, YouTube, and Fox Sports GO.
To pull off all four platforms at once, Fox Sports worked with a 3D printer in the Los Angeles area to design and build a rig that houses three iPhone 6S devices and an iPad Mini, allowing Travis to go live basically wherever and whenever he wants, responding to the topical storylines of the moment in a program called Outkick the Show, an extension of his popular blog Outkick the Coverage.
It has proved popular with fans. According to Fox, an average show pulls in 45,000 views on all the platforms and, during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game earlier this month, it got more than 200,000 views.
The concept is the result of a brainstorming session between Travis and some of Fox Sports’ top digital execs, including Pete Vlastelica (EVP, digital), Mark Pesavento (SVP, content production), Devin Poolman (SVP, digital product development), and Matt Schnider (VP, digital production).
“We discussed the future of where live streaming can go and the fact that, with multiple devices, we can take on more,” says Schnider. “That led to this funky, cool, octopus-looking device that we immediately got in front of Clay, and he loved the idea.”
The full setup locks the four Apple devices into place with a boom mic plugged into the base of each for improved audio and is set up alongside an ice light on a freestanding tripod when extra lighting is needed. It’s simple and quick enough for Travis to set up on his own, which he often does when hosting the show from his home office in Nashville.
“[Because] we do it from there, it almost has to be lo-fi in that sense,” says Schnider. “It’s not like there’s an army of technicians behind the scenes.”
It’s all as nitty-gritty as it sounds. In fact, Travis does a sound and video check with his Periscope and Facebook viewers before powering up live on YouTube and Fox Sports GO, and guests are piped in over phone using a Bluetooth speaker positioned next to the rig (which, Schnider notes, makes it significantly easier to book them). And Travis’s three kids even stumble their way into the show from time to time.
“We encourage that,” notes Schnider. “We think that’s fun, it breaks down the walls, and it makes Clay almost a sympathetic figure. A lot of people know him as Clay Travis from Outkick the Coverage, but he’s a dad as well.”
If you’d like to see more of what this programming is like, you’ll get your chance during Fox Sports’ Super Bowl coverage in the Bay Area next week. Throughout Super Bowl Week, Travis will be onsite at Twitter headquarters — which is just over a mile from Radio Row in Downtown San Francisco — hosting live streams using the “quadcast” model with A-list guests and in cooperation with some of Fox Sports’ other shows.
Growth for this strategy seems obvious. More talent is likely to want to get involved, and the engineering whizzes at Fox are already working on an updated rig, which they hope to have ready for Super Bowl coverage next week.
“I think this is a stepping stone,” says Schnider. “To be honest, quite a few of the talent are enamored with the possibilities of this because it helps not only the company but also their personal brands quite a bit. The upside is pretty massive with this project.”