Technology advances and competition have made live streaming easier than ever to deploy, but schools must be careful to pick a solution that meets their needs—and their budgets.
With commencement season in full swing, parents and alumni are flooding campuses nationwide to partake in the festivities. For those unable to make the trek in person, many schools are now broadcasting the ceremonies via live streams, giving audiences a front-row view of the proceedings.
Live streaming is nothing new, of course, but industry changes in recent years have made the technology far more accessible to institutions of higher education. As a result, schools are expanding their live-stream operations to encompass everything from graduation ceremonies to musical events, sports, and religious services.
“Live streaming captures the excitement and power of now,” said Chris Knowlton, vice president and streaming industry evangelist at Wowza Media Systems, a Colorado-based company that specializes in the technology. “It’s more compelling than on-demand, particularly for events such as sports where you would likely hear details about a game before you watched it.”
This sense of excitement is important on a university campus, according to Ian Fritzsche, director of media services at Southeastern University, a Christian liberal arts school in Florida. “These live events really connect the community together,” he said. “People feel as if they can participate in the event.”
Southeastern streams its commencement ceremonies live each year, but its streaming efforts are focused most heavily on the school’s four chapel services each week. “The live stream is intended primarily for those students who can’t attend the service in person,” explained Fritzsche. “But it’s also a way to advertise the university and say, ‘Hey, if you’re thinking about coming to school here, take a look: This is what we’re about.'”