2.7 million views recorded on live streaming service!

The Somerset Live Streaming Service 2020

By Ben Warren

It was, without doubt, the most unique of times here at the Cooper Associates County Ground this summer. From being based at home throughout large portions of the year, feeling consigned to an empty fixture list, to broadcasting and reporting on 28 days of cricket under the strictest of safety protocols in the space of seven weeks. It has been a challenging period, but one in which I hope we have managed to provide some entertainment.

The live streaming service at Taunton was first piloted in 2017 during a Royal London One-Day Cup Quarter-Final between Somerset and Notts Outlaws. We had been keen to move into the area previously but the technology, media restrictions and costs were all barriers until a solution was reached in this space. I was hopeful that it would be successful, but quickly realised that even my wildest expectations had been surpassed as we started gathering momentum for the service in 2018 with regular broadcasts, albeit from two fixed cameras.

Fast forward nearly two years, and at the beginning of 2020 we had accumulated 2.1 million “views” the previous season. It wasn’t just purely numbers, the feedback was very positive and it was clear that County Cricket was now stretching across the globe, with help from our supeb Pakistani contingent of Azhar Ali and Babar Azam. The excellent BBC Commentary, a simple score overlay and live pictures made for a robust “homegrown” product.

At this period in time, just before our worlds were about to be turned upside-down, it was decided that investment into the service was required. A change in media rights between SCCC, SKY and ECB meant that additional cameras were now permitted, meaning it was within our means to turn the stream into more of a production. Partnering with a local company in MyActionReplay, we set about mapping that process and in February 2020, three further cameras were installed at the Cooper Associates County Ground and a specialist “slo-motion” camera acquired.

Let’s fast forward to August 1st. Somerset vs Glamorgan in the Bob Willis Trophy. I’d never had imagined a situation where the live stream would be the only way of watching Somerset, but here we were. A new, untested system in place. A hospitality suite turned into the “production studio” (which sounds a lot fancier that it was) and Marchant de Lange running in to bowl at Eddie Byrom and Tom Lammonby. A couple of minor audio issues later and we are up and running, our very own homemade Somerset TV. Myself and Club Marketing Exec Dan, with the brilliant volunteering efforts of Geoff Vian on the gantry. Geoff deserves a big special mention here as a former SKY and BBC cameraman who came out of retirement and stood behind the roaming camera. Without his help and expertise all summer, we simply could not have outputted what was on show.

Onto the Vitality Blast, and with the five matches again played behind-closed-doors, it was on us to provide that spark and buzz associated with the format. An innovative partnership was extended with Trade Nation, who invested in giant T targets, charity prizes, TV giveaways and much more to help bring the stream alive. Steve Snell and Charlie Taylor did a great job under tough circumstances to provide independent commentary.

Overall, despite only streaming 13 days of cricket instead of 32 in 2019, we had generated an additional 600,000 views on the streaming service. I am incredibly grateful for the mountain of positive comments we received, and the plan is very much to continue in the same vein in 2021. The current strategy is being fine-tuned to allow an efficient hybrid experience between in-ground and digital experiences next summer.

After delving into the analysis this winter, some headline numbers stand out:

  • Total views: 2,697,119
  • Total watch hours: 175,388
  • Countries viewed: 101
  • Average watch time (UK): 28 minutes
  • Highest peak concurrent: 23,433
  • Most popular match: Somerset vs Gloucestershire (Vitality Blast)

Thanks again to everyone who tuned in this summer. Live streaming in cricket is moving forward to help compliment associations with Somerset, but certainly cannot replicate coming to the Cooper Associates County Ground and I can’t wait to welcome everyone back in 2021. In the meantime, don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel where there are plenty of videos to help pass those long winter months.

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