Benchmarking competition streaming: Big Buck HD

Watched a couple different segments of last night’s BBH HD Women’s championship stream. I’m a big proponent of benchmarking as a means to improve. So everyone chime in with your thoughts/comparisons on how to make pinball streaming better and to reach a broader audience.

  1. the pacing of matches. I still don’t really enjoy watching BBH stream, but it’s so fast paced that I wasn’t looking at my watch or wanting to multi-task/watch. This has already been discussed, and the Heads Up tourney today is trying to address this. But it’s important and worth mentioning again.

  2. Professional appearance of broadcasting booth. @DEADFLIP and the other dude looked sharp!
    Throwing on a suit coat / blazer over the top of a non-T-shirt is a world of difference in appearance from ugly dudes like me still wearing their sweaty pin event T’s in the booth. Camera in front of the broadcasters (that the casters are looking at) also a huge difference vs a camera of casters in profile view.

  3. Pacing and quality of video transitions: BBHD Championships obviously has a large budget to pay for professional, dedicated video experts. We have some of those in the pinball community that have made our streaming better (and they all do it gratis). Pinburgh this year came closest. And in one way (instant slo-mo replay) Pinburgh17 camera work was BETTER than BBHD. As a non-BBHD player, I would have appreciated a slo mo replay showing the an amazing combination/streak of the winning player shooting targets effectively.

  4. BBHD hype man was one of the most UNprofessional idiots I’ve ever seen. Bravo to Jack and Jeff for being much better at Pinburgh. The BBHD guy was hyping the intro to the crowd at the Women’s championship by repeatedly saying “What’s up, b!tches?!?” And then dropping F bombs all over the place, all while holding a can of beer on stage. Stay classy! :frowning:

  5. BBHD has a good scoreboards for in-game updates, as well as match/player status between matches.

  6. Good background story/color information on players before / after matches.


What else?


what was the link to their stream?

Twitch channel is bigbuckhd

This is all really good feedback, and I agree 100%. I was there in the hall. #4… ugh. UGH. I wanted to punch that dude in the face. It was an exercise in me keeping my mouth shut. Also, their trophy was a pair of jugs. Because, boobs.

As to #2, the big difference is that the broadcasters here are being paid to broadcast. They aren’t coming off of playing or running the event, they are there JUST to broadcast. This is something I’ve wanted for a long time, but until we can convince someone to retire from pinball and dedicate themselves to broadcasting, we won’t have that.

.#5 is actually built in to the game. That could be replicated in video.

1 Like

Hey all, thanks for watching yesterday!
I was honored to be approached by BBH both from a professional standpoint, but also on a research level.

I want the excitement BBH has, for pinball. I wanted to know the energy levels, the shoutcasting, everything about it.

A few things that make this event what it is (These aren’t pluses or minuses, just notes):
1: The Tournament is 18 and over. This allows for more adult language to be used comfortably. There were maybe 3 kids at the event. You also had to confirm via a button before watching, that the stream contained mature content for folks 18 and up.

2: As mentioned, something really changes when you put two people at a desk, with sport coats on, talking to a camera. Two great casters (MAX) with an occasional interview, and a great director will make a broadcast SHINE (And a knowledge not to talk over each other. It happens but it should be the norm)

3: The energy of the room directly cooralates to the energy of the gameplay and to the hype man/woman.

  • This was something I wanted to do at pinburgh, to get the crowd pumped, but the speakers were also pointed at the stage and I can only assume that would have been distracting, so it became a bit more “score reading” than anything else. Still had a blast though and got a lot of positive feedback about it.

4: SCREENS EVERYWHERE to show stats and gameplay! Like, EVERYWHERE!

5: An “arena” style environment with moving lights, flashy signs, and great background music gives this a feel of a professional and enormous production. It lets the audience see the screens better, but makes sure this is enough going on around them that no one will be bored.

6: Every player there, qualified to be there. 32 woman, 64 players total. 6 of the women qualified for both tournaments. 30% of all the players were NEW to the world championship!

7: This game and it’s family/community are almost party first, while the players have their game faces on during a match. It’s a game about shooting fake deer, but the excitement built up for it with the venue keeps people enthralled!

Overall I’m learning a lot about the event and having a fricken blast. I hope you are as well!

I’m taking this info and going to replicate it best I can by renting out a barcade in Chicago and pulling a LOT of favors from lighting/sound/production friends.
It’s worth a shot, but DAMMNIT I want people to be having fun and screaming for players. Just a personal preference. Haha

I love you pinheads, and I hope to see you all soon!


Pay NES to commentate!

1 Like

And Cartagena

This. A thousand times, this.


FSPA vs PPL League Challenges on Watch 'em. Love 'em. Those two challenges were amongst my most fun pinball experiences ever.

Vuvuzelas, people!! :slight_smile:


This is an interesting thought. A lot of the pinball broadcasts have been three casters now: is that a liability? I do think two people are less likely to talk over one another than three, though the right group of three can do quite well.

Also I tried to tell you to hype MORE at Pinburgh, and that the speakers weren’t a problem, but you ignored me :wink: Next time, MORE HYPE, but not like BBH Guy. We want people to be having fun and screaming for players, too!


The “right” three casters can be much smoother, more informative, and more entertaining than the “wrong” two casters… same in pinball as in any other sport. (I watch NFL, and there are some caster teams that I love and some I abhor.)

One advantage of multiple casters in pinball is that, as a practical matter, not every caster is going to have deep knowledge of the subtle nuances of every distinct machine… but with a deeper caster pool, the odds go up of being able to talk in detail about a particular machine. This can actually be beneficial to the broadcast: the (truly) less-knowledgeable casters for the current game can act as “straight men” (or women), asking basic questions of the more knowledgeable caster(s), because the reality is that much of the audience will be wanting to ask those same basic questions.

This points to one of my personal issues with the current caster situation in pinball competitions… it often seems to be last-minute. This is often by necessity, as frequently the casters for an event are competitors in that event who bombed out. As @chesh correctly states, the ultimate would be if the caster crew was dedicated to broadcasting… but failing that, it’d be great to get a little advance notice. Just speaking for myself: I usually sign up for the casting crew the night before finals if I don’t make it in myself. The usual response is “you’re on the list, we’ll figure it out tomorrow”… which means I go to bed not knowing if I’m actually on the casting crew, or even what the finals games will be. It’d be super helpful to instead be told (the night before) “thanks, you’ll be casting the A semi-finals starting at ~ 5 PM, the games will be W, X, Y, and Z.” I could then use the evening to brush up on all the nuances of those machines. (I typically know basics of every machine, but would gladly brush up on the details of the finals machines if I knew what they were. This requires trust that the casters won’t leak the finals games to their buddies.)


It can’t be ignored that the way top notch live broadcasts happen is with tons of research and support for the casters. The on camera folks are being fed information… they have the notes and data on standby, etc. the game coverage is supported with pre-made content like interviews… the timing of things is linked and prepared for so things flow well.

The broadcast teams are pros for a reason :slight_smile:

Prep prep prep

The “party atmosphere” is something they chose when promoting this event… I don’t think that is really essential to what you are trying to follow here… which is how to provide compelling coverage of an event. No one is asking a soccer player their drinking preferences for the game…

Commentary needs to provide the filler around what we see… not just repeat what we saw. The context… the impact… the consequences. That’s why things like the overall scoreboard missing from papa was such an issue for so long.

Allowing the prep, supporting with more than just the live feeds (like papa tv did with the pinburgh event) are all moves in the right direction.

The “players need silence” thinking needs to go away if you ever want a live audience event that has energy.


The Heads Up Championship, or something like it, would be a good place to buck the trend here. A lot of the skill is being able to perform under pressure and with limited time. I see no reason that there shouldn’t be pressure inducing play-by-play commentary blaring out of speakers that the competitors can hear. (Well, maybe not “blaring”).

I guess the solution to getting professional commentary is to have the money to pay for it. I’d love to help make commentary better, but who am I kidding: I’d much rather be playing in the events.

Is it at all feasible to have the commentary be done remotely? Could we have required players to fill out a survey ahead of the heads up tournament that would give some talking points to the commentators? Is it feasible to have a “runner” at the tournament whose job it is to communicate information with the broadcast team that they can’t acquire sitting at a desk across the room?

1 Like

It’s not required, but here’s a recent attempt at that: Pinball Player Bio Sheet

I have thoughts on my preferred game to watch streaming tournaments of, Street Fighter. I don’t want to derail from BBHD discussion, but if you’re interested I think you could learn a lot from comparing these two videos:

First is Street Fighter V finals from Evo 2017, big arena at Mandalay Bay, it’s the biggest event of the year. I was there, amazing. It was broadcast on ESPN, there were local crowd commentators, and there were separate stream commentators. This is the stream version, so what was on Twitch:

Obviously a big event with a budget and stage etc. But commentary is commentary, you don’t need to rent out a Vegas arena to have good commentators. (Paying them though, that helps!) So pay attention to how they cover the match, do transitions, etc.

Then compare to this:

This is top 8, Street Fighter V, same world class players, but at a local event. This is a hotel room, not an arena. Good streaming crew, it’s well done, but not crazy budget. And my main point here is realize how close the two are when it comes to actually showing gameplay and covering the players.

I think pinball streaming would be well served by checking out what other folks are doing, to level up. And I’d love to see that happen, because I’d love to see the success that would come with it.


This, all of this.

The pool of “players who have the knowledge to broadcast” and “players who have the skill/ knowledge to play big matches” are almost the same.

As someone who has thought about what it would take to move into the caster booth, I am happy to see that there’s some serious thought into dedicated casting. I’m 25, still working a humdrum job, and don’t have the money to drop of my own to travel and do volunteer work for shows. If there was compensation for travel/some amount of pay for working a gig I can definitely see there being a few candidates!

If there’s a way to foster a local casting group in Pittsburgh there’s a lot of organic ways to train/develop skills as well - PAPA TV Live, potentially PPL broadcasts, maybe a new show. Get a team with hands-on experience so that they are ready for anything that happens and build a level of synergy working together.

If there’s a dedicated group, would it make sense to go to 2 doing PBP and another 1-2 doing between- round content?


Part of the solution would be to incorporate the process into the event/participation. As part of the schedule before the playoffs, finalists would go through a media round where they would get interviewed, profiled, etc. But this would have to be done early enough to allow the information to be processed, edited, etc. Finalists would be expected to participate as part of their entry, etc. The problem is this stuff takes time and labor… and both are things events are thin on.

But to take things to the next level - you really need to get people interested in the players and their journey IMO.

I started watching the first video last night, and was still watching an hour later (despite not enjoying fighting games and never having seen Street Fighter V before).

A great broadcast. A short primer on some of the things they talk about (resources, etc) would have been helpful, but even without that, they did a great job. It was amazing to me some of the things the commentators picked up on despite the frenzied pace. It was really smooth how the commentators would basically just trade off between each other. Almost as if one would take a few breaths while the other kept up with the action. They almost never talked over each other, except perhaps in exclamation form: “Oooohhhhh”.

But, regular pinball is just not that exciting nor fast paced enough. Our only hope is things like the Heads Up Championship…or perhaps non-live, edited versions that show only the important balls / moments / moves, etc. A bit like poker.


It’s not, but I think it could be presented and formatted better to at least come closer to it.

I like pinball! But I’ll be honest, watching a long dragging 4 player game just doesn’t hold my interest enough to want to tune in live to a stream. And that’s coming from a pinball fan. I think the barrier to entry is way higher for a casual viewer.

I haven’t had a chance yet to see what Karl’s last stream looked like, he told me it would be closer to fighting game tournament stuff, so curious to check that out.

1 Like

Just to address this separately (glad you enjoyed) whatever the format is like (obvious it will never be the same as a fast paced one on one fighting game) that should be the goal I feel like. That someone who’s not a fan, and doesn’t necessarily understand what’s going on can tune in and an hour later still be watching.

Think about pinball newbs you’ve taught, they all have similar reactions. “There are rules?” kind of stuff. How can you make the game accessible to new watchers, while keeping the commentary deep and interesting enough for players?