Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 25, 2018

Changes to Fairfield’s streaming service

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Apr 04, 2018
John Grunwald

The Fairfield Community School District has been streaming sporting events and concerts online for the past four years.

However, the company that has hosted the streaming service was purchased in February, and the new company is planning to charge the district for its services. District technology director John Grunwald said he wants to avoid those charges, and for the past few months has been experimenting with putting the videos on YouTube.



Fairfield schools have been using thecube.com since January 2014 when the school broadcast a junior varsity girls’ basketball game against Keokuk. In the four years since, the school has used the platform to show many other athletic events, concerts, drama productions, graduations and talent shows, just to name a few.

The new service that’s taken over for The Cube, known as The High School Sports Network, charges the public a pay-per-view fee for all sporting events, though non-sporting events are free. After 48 hours, the sporting events would be free, too. The public could purchase a season-long or yearlong pass.

“This service would not cost the district anything,” Grunwald said. “The trouble, in my eyes, is that we have been providing a free service to the public for four years now, and if all of a sudden there is a charge, then we would catch the backlash.”

If the school wanted to provide the service to the public for free, the school would foot the bill. Grunwald said the fee would increase every year for the first three years and then level off at “several thousand dollars each year.”



As a way of getting around the new company and its fees, Grunwald has been using YouTube to host its videos, which is free. However, there are a few catches. First and foremost, YouTube does not allow copyrighted content to be shown without the author’s consent. That means a drill team performance using a copyrighted song would be flagged for copyright infringement. Usually, this flagging is done by computer bots that can recognize a large library of songs, and not by a human watching the video.

In order to use copyrighted content, the school would have to agree to pop-up ads appearing in the videos.


New camera and mic

The district has relied on iPads to record games and concerts until now, but they have limits. In order to record the sound on the field, the videographer needs a special mic. Without it, the mic on the iPad picks up the ambient noise from the crowd. Not only that, but the iPad’s camera can only zoom in digitally, rendering a pixelated image.

Grunwald said he’s thinking of purchasing a camera and something called a “shotgun mic” for less than $2,000 to fix these problems. The new camera can extend its lens for an actual zoom, and it can record the game while streaming it at the same time. This would allow a team manager, who is recording the game anyway for the coach to watch later, to also livestream it, obviating the need for an adult volunteer to livestream the game separately.

“This is a big reason why the district greatly reduced the number of events that were streamed during this past year,” he said. “Getting volunteers to help was nearly impossible.”

A shotgun mic picks up whatever the camera is pointed at.

“In the example of a basketball game, you would hear much more of the action from the floor and the squeaking of the shoes and much less of the crowd directly around the camera or the camera operator,” Grunwald said.

Grunwald acknowledged that his technology budget is tight, and he’d likely split the expense of the camera and mic with the groups that used them.

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