How did FloSports grow from a bootstrapped startup in Austin, Texas, to one of the fastest growing sports media companies in the world? The “Our Story” video above details the company’s early days and rapid ascent to a network of 20-plus sports sites with exclusive live coverage, original documentaries, breaking news, and more.
Cutting the cable has become a term that we have all become familiar with. The cable TV services have gotten expensive and don’t really provide what most of us want to see anymore. Stepping in place of cable TV is a not-so-new technology that has been around for several years now, live streaming internet content. With the ability to live stream events in real time, even faster than live television broadcasts in most cases, live steaming has taken over.
For specialized sports that rarely receive the coverage from network and cable TV, live streaming has been a Godsend. According to FloSports co-founders Mark and Martin Floreani, along with Madhu Venkatesan, that is exactly how their company started. “In 2006, you could not see track or wresting on TV,” said Mark. “When content came out that you could see the day-of, content that they had never seen before, and on a weekly basis, it was massive for the community.”
When content came out that you could see the day-of … and on a weekly basis, it was massive for the community. — Mark Floreani
As a community of dirt track racing fans, we all know this is true. There have been so many times on forums, social media channels, and personal conversations, we have complained about the lack of televised dirt track events, and the ones that did get covered were about a month late. “All we have to do is tell the story,” said Madhu Venkatesan, FloSports Co-founder. Live streaming coverage of dirt track racing takes place at FloRacing.
On FloRacing, a race fan can watch live streaming events, previously recorded events, or catch up on the latest news and standings. What the dirt track community has been asking for is finally here. We decided to watch a couple of events and provide some feedback to the OneDirt fanbase on the experience.
What We Experienced
In order to produce a live stream for real-time broadcast, all you need is a source (video camera, an audio interface, or screen capture software), an encoder to digitize the content, a media publisher, and a content-delivery network to deliver the content to your viewers. Sounds simple, and it really is. Think about Facebook Live videos.
Having said that, there is a huge difference between live-streaming on a social media site and actually producing coverage that is replacing what huge broadcasting studios are doing on network television. Basic no-frills live-steaming is available, but we have become used to something better for our live-race coverage. After all, dirt track racing is better than the stuff you watch on network TV on Sunday – so shouldn’t our races be just as polished and produced as well as your weekly “Napcar” series? You bet!
Let’s start with the thing that everyone wants to know: “What’s it cost?” Less than you think, and certainly less than cable TV. The rates we saw were listed at $12.50 per month when paid yearly ($29.99 by the month). If that seems like a lot, then consider what cable TV costs for sports packages. The basic charge for Comcast Xfinity Cable is $49.99 a month for the bare bones. Cox Cable is the same. Spectrum is 10 bucks more a month for the base cable, and Optimum Cable is $64.95 a month. Keep in mind that none of these packages have a complete sports channel selection in the base plan.
SO… you have to step up to their other plans to get the NASCAR, Formula One, Off-Road, and the bare minimum dirt track racing – which equates to one or two races every three or four months. You can bet these races will be shown at the worst possible times. What you are looking at is a cable plan ranging around $60 a month, and you still don’t get to see any dirt track racing.
Cable packages have a lot of hidden additional fees that you have to read the small print to discover. For example, Comcast has broadcast TV fees that can add-on up to $7.00 a month. There is also a regional sports fee that can add another $5.00 a month, and a few others that we didn’t even bother to look up. So that $60 fee per month can grow an additional $12.00 a month, just because.
If you get in on the Cox plan and opt for the DVR service to record the few dirt track races they broadcast at really weird hours, then you are going to get up to a monthly charge of nearly $95 when you get the bill and you have to commit to the service for a year. All this and you are still not going to get the dirt track racing or news that you want to watch. See where we are going with this? All things considered, $12.50 a month for some great dirt track racing and the latest news is pretty good.
The Live Steam
Most fans don’t realize it, but we have become conditioned to seeing certain shots during racing events. Whenever the sequence of shots changes, it becomes troublesome and fans notice. It takes work to keep the coverage exactly the way we expect to see the race being covered. This is a difficult task to achieve for even the biggest sports networks.
Imagine how it is for a streamlined crew armed with only what they bring to the facility. Dirt tracks are generally not as well equipped as NASCAR tracks either. The infrastructure of the track is minimal by those standards. Keeping that in mind, we can understand what these video crews face every time they show up at an event.
No one wants to broadcast a boring event, so the producer has to go out and find the stories that will be covered during the race, at intermissions, or between races. Many broadcast teams coordinate with the track to use the house announcer who has in-depth knowledge of the competitors and the facility to keep the broadcast interesting. If the crew is lucky enough to have multiple camera locations – many tracks don’t offer a second camera location, like a crow’s nest outside one of the turns – then switching camera shots at the right time becomes an issue. Camera switching is a talent and more technically-involved than most fans/viewers realize.
What we have experienced through FloSports has been a top-notch live streaming that is ground-breaking in several areas. Its broadcast covers the entire event. How many times do you get to watch the hot-lap sessions on live streaming events? With the FloRacing live steam, you get to see from the moment the first car hits the track to the victory lane celebration.
Every event we have watched has had at least two cameras, with most events having four or more. The switching from one camera to another is smooth, and well coordinated so that there is no break in the action. The excitement level stays pegged to full. The audio is incredible. If you have a surround sound system and want everyone in your neighborhood to believe you are racing cars in your back yard, you can pull it off.
If you are one of those people that still like to get the pre-race ceremony, national anthem, invocation, and all of the other build-up to the event while your popcorn is popping in the microwave, FloRacing hits all those targets too. As a matter of fact, the only thing you don’t get in FloRacing live-steam coverage that you get at the track is parking fees and dirt in your drink. A handful of soil from the back yard solves one problem, but the parking fees is one thing we’d rather not duplicate.
In all honesty, watching the live-stream events from FloRacing is on-par with actually being at the track. In many ways, it is much better. There are no lines for the restrooms, the food is exactly like you want it, and you can sit in your favorite seat (other than your driving seat). FloRacing is a bargain, no matter how you slice it.
Some handy links to the FloRacing content:
FloRacing Homepage: http://bit.ly/2EQGH4H
FloRacing News: http://bit.ly/2EQNriS
FloRacing Events: http://bit.ly/2IZlBmZ
FloRacing Results: http://bit.ly/2J0g1ks
FloRacing Rankings: http://bit.ly/2J0Td3Q
For more information on how to sign up for FloRacing’s live online streaming packages, visit them online at www.FloRacing.com (http://bit.ly/2EQGH4H) and check out their live event schedule here (http://bit.ly/2IZlBmZ).