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US Chess Championship

Chess as a live televised sporting event?

If you’re not a chess fan, that may not sound so exciting, but if you add a few sports elements, it makes for a very compelling live stream. The event was the US Chess Championship held in May at the St. Louis Chess club, which is quickly becoming the center of chess in America.

About the compelling part, the men and women competitors were all Grand Masters, which is a big deal considering how difficult that title is to come by. Live in the Chess Club studio were another 3 Grand Masters, the commentators for this event.

The challenge for Fat Chimp: produce 14 days (that’s days) of live chess, 5 hours a day. With a flotilla of small cameras, we captured all the action from 12 competition tables, 22 Grand Masters all playing at the same time. Also part of our daily show, complete graphic support from the electronic chess boards as well as the telestrator action from the commentators. We were switching 14 cameras and 6 other sources as well as commercial and promotional video roll-ins. It was truly chess as it has never been televised before.

This was a repeat performance for Fat Chimp Studios. We streamed the prestigious Sinquefield Cup from the same location last fall. The ultimate compliment from a client is being called back a second time. When the Championships were scheduled, the chess people came to us first.

It may surprise you but the viewership for live chess is very robust.  Over the 14 days, the chess club collected 157,000 unique visitors from around the world. At any one time (even on Tuesday afternoon at 2 pm) an average audience of 10,000 viewers were watching our show. What helped the numbers was what happened at the championship – a three way tie for both the men and women going into the final day. The shortened time limits made the last day very exciting and kept the Fat Chimp crew busy.

We are invited back in the fall for the return of the Sinquefield Cup, and have been asked to stream the first ever Million Dollar Chess Tournament from Las Vegas in October. What the people at the St. Louis Chess Club have discovered is that it is great to host these events, but can be much more widely noticed if they are streamed to the world. If you want to add eyes to your live event, consider live streaming, a service provided by Fat Chimp Studios.

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