How TVU Anywhere Transforms User-Generated Content into Vital Election Footage from the Campaign Trail

As the nation enters campaign season and news directors begin planning how best to use their station’s limited resources to cover races as they unfold, user-generated content has emerged as a new source of footage with the potential to contribute mightily to daily news production.


User-generated content: a new source of video contributions

Not the viewer-submitted shot of a striking sunset or traffic cam footage that catches a tornado as it bears down on a local neighborhood.

No, this new source of political footage is from viewers who wish to get involved in documenting local races and who stations intentionally outfit with the TVU Anywhere mobile broadcasting app from TVU Networks.

To be absolutely clear, this user-generated political footage of stump speeches, rallies, civic meetings and the rest is NOT something a station simply takes to air. Rather, using TVU Networks’ TVU Partyline, content from multiple viewer-turned-stringers is submitted and curated before the decision is made to take it to air.

Think about what recruiting 100 or even only 50 viewers to supplement the efforts of reporters, news photographers and MMJs could do for a local race and election night coverage, ratings and a broadcaster’s place in the local community—all without adding a huge capital expense.


Making It Happen

TVU Networks makes TVU Anywhere available for free. The mobile live streaming app, which is available for Android and Apple smartphones, leverages TVU Networks’ patented Inverse Statmux+ (IS+) protocol to transmit reliable, high-quality IP video and audio streams over the internet. That’s the same technology at the heart of the professional TVU One IP transmitter already used every day by thousands around the world.

That’s important because broadcasters have experience with this TVU Networks technology and know they can depend on it for reliable performance that can support 1080p HD and 4K live streaming from the field and low latency.

Stations wishing to deploy their own corps of TVU Anywhere-equipped stringers around their markets are even allowed to brand the TVU Networks app as their station’s video contribution app at no charge.

Distribution of the app is a two-step process. First, stations should begin promoting the fact that they want to recruit viewers to shoot footage as campaigns get into full swing. Second, they should set up a website where viewers can download their branded version of TVU Anywhere as well as a QR code that stringers will use to begin contributing video to the station’s instance of TVU Partyline running in the cloud.

This QR approach removes any potential tech support issues for new stringers because it painlessly links viewers’ smartphones to the station’s TVU Partyline instance in a way that minimizes what viewers have to do to begin streaming footage from the field and makes the process painless.

News directors can then designate someone in the newsroom to monitor contributions to determine if something newsworthy is being contributed and then make the footage available to producers, reporters and editors to integrate into stories or –if determined to be reliable and breaking—take to air immediately.


Contributing video using TVU Partyline

TVU Partyline initially was developed to address the unprecedented, rapid change in TV production thrust upon the industry by the pandemic. With social distancing mandates in place, traditional intercom communications among production crew members was impossible. While skeleton crews—separated by six feet—held down the fort in the studio, others on the production team worked from home.

Ditto when it came to talent. With anchors, meteorologists and reporters working from home –even instructed not to return to the station for a period during the height of COVID-19—real-time communications between director and on-air reporters, anchors, news photographers and others needed to be maintained.

TVU Networks addressed these issues early on in the pandemic with its release of TVU Partyline, a cloud-based collaboration solution with two-way professional communications supporting intercom and IFB applications with important features like automated mix-minus support.

Easy to use from a station or studio, TVU Partyline runs in the cloud while a producer or director manages an instance of the tool from a laptop computer.

Soon after its introduction, it became apparent that newsrooms needed a way to interview newsmakers from the field without asking them to come to the studio. TVU Networks adapted TVU Partyline for just that application. Since then, many broadcasters have adopted TVU Partyline to cue up a limitless number of newsmakers, remote guests and others contributing video and audio from their smartphones and digital tablets who can be taken to air by themselves or with others at the same time.

TVU Partyline has even enabled virtual press conferences where reporters work remotely from a COVID-safe setting on the production of awards shows with hundred or more nominees contributing video and audio remotely.

When it comes to supporting new viewer-stringers covering the campaign, the same features used in these applications make TVU Partyline a simple and affordable solution to support contributions of those running from office for as little as $35 per hour. TVU Anywhere remains free.


Beyond Politics

Launching an effort to recruit viewer-stringers to cover the campaign and election night is only the beginning. Once newsrooms and viewers alike experience how these new sources of footage enhance local news, using this setup will likely become commonplace for news coverage in general.

Imagine viewer-stringers contributing from the tailgate parties before an NFL or college football game to a local pre-game show. Or, how a station’s newly minted stringers could contribute footage from around the market of breaking news before a station could deploy an MMJ or news chopper.

For the past decade or more, a common direction among many news directors has been identifying media workflow changes they could make to put “more feet on the street.” The adoption of MMJs by many newsrooms is a prime example.

At the same time, smartphones have become far more capable with support for 1080p and 4K acquisition, enhanced zooming capabilities and reliable streaming, and many news directors have responded by directing station personnel, including talent, to shoot news footage they may encounter by happenstance, such as during their commutes.

Outfitting local viewers to become stringers using TVU Networks’ TVU Anywhere on their smartphones and using TVU Partyline at the station simply takes these trends to their logical conclusion and in the process should be able to supercharge campaign and election coverage this fall.


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