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MLS’s DC United plans to boost fan engagement with Facebook Live

The soccer club has partnered with Telestream Wirecast to simulcast its linear pre- and post-game shows with Facebook Live.

Major League Soccer (MLS) team DC United has teamed up with Telestream, a provider of digital media tools and workflow solutions, to up its Facebook Live game.

Telestream’s Wirecast technology will help enable club – the most decorated in modern USA soccer history – to simulcast its linear pre- and post-game shows with Facebook Live, and take fan engagement to a new level.

Quality content

Samantha Perrie, video producer for DC United, said: “We’re a small crew and our department does a lot of different things. We do social, we do PR, and we do video.

“I was tasked with finding the right platform for us to stream live shows, something that would allow us to produce professional quality content for our fans. After a thorough search, we found Wirecast, took it for a test drive, and knew it was what we were looking for.”

The pre- and post-game shows include interviews with players and coaches, analysis, and an assortment of other packages routinely produced for television consumption. One of the goals for the production team was to support fans that are actually at the games, as well as give those outside of the D.C. market the opportunity to be involved. The tailgate scene is very active, and fans enjoy watching the pre-game stream from the parking lot on their phone or tablet. There’s plenty of interaction between fans, with people continually commenting on the live Facebook stream as excitement builds.

One of the biggest streaming successes of the past year was the re-broadcast of the team’s 20th anniversary MLS Cup win in 1996 on the anniversary of the match. It was the team’s most watched streaming event of the season with a Facebook reach of 763,775 and 110,552 video views. Reactions, comments and shares totaled 24,716.

Perrie said: “To celebrate we did a full rebroadcast of the entire game. It was an exciting time back then, an amazing game, played in the rain, and visually awesome. It was a long game too: a 2-hour and 18-minute stream. I broke it up into the first half, second half, halftime, and overtime, with different video clips using the layer feature in Wirecast, and worked things back and forth between layers to stream the whole thing.

“We created our own “back in the day” breaks for the original commercials too. It was hugely successful as fans got to relive their glory days. We were somewhat shocked but delighted at how many people it reached. It’s easily one of the most successful things we did this past year. That’s another one of the things we like about Facebook Live: it gives us the opportunity to do things like that, and we’ve discussed doing similar broadcasts again in the future.”

The Insights tool in Facebook Live allows the team to get a good overview of their performance metrics for the year. The average reach for the weekly show is over 50,000 with typical views ranging around 4,500. As more fans learn about the show, the team expects engagement to continue to grow significantly during the 2017 season.

Wirecast allows Perrie and the team to create a professional on-line broadcast, completely on par with what’s being shown on air. The graphics department supplies Perrie with the slates so that branding and graphics treatments match completely between the ASN (American Sports Network), who broadcasts the matches, and the Facebook broadcasts. Perrie has Wirecast set up in the OB truck and shares camera feeds with the broadcast crew. She creates slates to advertise the team’s information such as when the next home game is happening, the next away game, season ticket renewal offers, etc., to make sure fans are well informed.

Perrie appreciates the simplicity of Wirecast, and finds the different layers an intuitive way to work since anyone who has edited video before is likely to understand the paradigm. “I could just hop right on, create different layers for graphics, turn them on and off, it’s so easy. There wasn’t really any learning curve for me having been in the video industry for years,” she said. “That was something we looked for in a new app, the usability. After playing around for 10 minutes I had the basics of it, but at the same time there’s plenty of potential to do more, and raise the bar for next season.”

One of Perrie’s favourite features in Wirecast is the ability to test the stream before it goes live on Facebook. “I test the stream output before every show. Our stadium is very historic and with that comes the occasional Internet issue. So, being able to set up a stream really fast and test it so that only I can see it and make sure everything is working gives me confidence and peace of mind,” she added.

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