BAYSIDE, CALIFORNIA, August 12, 2008 – StreamGuys, Inc., a streaming media and content delivery provider based in northern California, is managing enterprise-level live and on-demand video streaming for St. Olaf College of Northfield, Minnesota. St. Olaf College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, with world-class programs in music and academics. The college relies on StreamGuys to provide high-quality, enterprise-level audio and video streaming services globally for live concerts from many of the college’s music ensembles, including the world-famous St. Olaf Choir, and Sing For Joy, a weekly half-hour radio program syndicated in 200 U.S. communities plus many international countries and regions. StreamGuys also hosts live and on-demand streams for daily chapel services, guest lectures and commencements among other events. Jeffrey O’Donnell, Director of Broadcast Media for St. Olaf College, is in charge of all the event recording, webcasting and streaming, and serves as executive producer of Sing For Joy. According to O’Donnell, the college began working with StreamGuys after experiencing server capacity issues with a live concert stream that had an unusually high audience demand compared to its previous events.
“We learned the hard way. We held a big concert for a building re-dedication on campus and were using our own servers to stream the event live. There was so much demand for bandwidth that the entire campus network shut down,” said O’Donnell. “I knew of StreamGuys from their reputation in the public radio industry, and our campus IT department found their pricing competitive and reasonable. They have focused specifically on our technical needs, and the server capacity they provide allows a large volume of users to access our streams around the world. They have eliminated any problems we had before in accommodating our online audience.”
O’Donnell and his team have established several encoding locations across the campus where the majority of events take place. StreamGuys provides a dedicated server for St. Olaf College, pulling content from the various encoding points and allowing the campus to retain its house bandwidth for other data services. In addition to live events and radio programming, StreamGuys hosts archived streams of past concerts and mp3 Podcasts of daily chapel services.
The college’s strong culture of music and performance carries over to its streaming approach, which emphasizes audio quality first. O’Donnell and his team use professional grade microphones and recording equipment to capture the audio, with StreamGuys retaining the pristine audio quality from the server point onward through distribution. Live video is sent to the StreamGuys server at 256K using Windows Media encoding. Bit rates are increased to improve video quality for lectures and other events where audio quality is of less significance.
“We consider the true focus of the event and change the bit rates to put more emphasis on video quality when required, remaining within that 256K window,” said O’Donnell. “We’re constantly striving to offer the highest quality possible for events, and StreamGuys makes it possible to focus on the quality of the event instead of worrying about the server load capacity.”
O’Donnell added that StreamGuys allows his team to remotely control the server from St. Olaf College. “The remote control aspect is a nice bonus,” he said. “We can create publishing points and receive reports on who is listening, and change the encoding and bit rates accordingly. They provide an interface to the server through our website to access that information, and it’s very helpful.”