South central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks market is so small, it’s unnumbered. The lake is privately owned by a power company for hydroelectric generation. It has more than 1200mi of shoreline and is a popular summer destination. There are no broadcast television stations at the lake.
The weekend before Labor Day, the area becomes the home of the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, the world’s largest unsanctioned boat race. The race regularly attracts more than 100,000 visitors, and an estimated $1 billion in marine vessels are on the water. Its purpose is to raise money for local organizations such as fire and rescue, and to show how fast your boat can go. No money is awarded; winners receive only trophies and bragging rights. The race course is 1mi, a straight line, measured by special high-speed radar. Last year’s winner hit 208mph.
Between writing “Transition to Digital” newsletters, one week each year I engineer, TD and direct two nine-hour days of live TV and streaming video of the Shootout. This year seemed like a good time to hold a “Transition to Digital” shootout within the Shootout.
Market interest in Cellular/Wi-Fi ENG has been building speed like a 4000 horsepower catamaran at full throttle. The Shootout seemed like a good place to test this new technology. The action is on and around a lake. 4G LTE cell service is available, but coverage on the water is questionable. There will be 100,000 people using the same couple of towers in a location most people would call the boondocks.
On the production side, we wanted see pictures not possible with simple microwaves, such as live cameras on anchored boats, moving boats, and in a plane or helicopter. It is always an exciting event and seemed to be a good place to test Cellular ENG in a demanding EFP live sports environment. I invited my list of known Cellular ENG manufacturers to participate. TVU networks and Dejero jumped at the opportunity, and each promised to send their equipment and engineers to the boondocks for the Shootout.
Viper Communications, owner of KRMS radio, Osage Beach MO, owns the media rights to the Shootout. KRMS produces wall-to-wall radio and television coverage of the event in conjunction with Charter Media, which backhauls and broadcasts the feed. KRMS also sends the video stream to Stickam.com (34,493 viewers) and feeds live video to a rented Jumbotron near the beach.